Thursday, May 28, 2015

VESSEL Blog hop, guest post and giveaway!

I'm super excited to have Lisa T. Cresswell here today, sharing her writing process for her new release VESSEL. Make sure to scroll to the bottom of the post to read more about the fantastic story and to enter to win your own copy!

Guest post by Author Lisa T. Cresswell 

To write Vessel, I followed a very basic format.

1) Get idea.
2) Plan outline by chapter.
3) Write first draft.
4) Edits and rewrite.

I didn’t always write this way. I used to pretty much skip 1 and 2 and head directly to 3, which was very frustrating for me. I would always reach a point in the story where I didn’t know what was going to happen next and stop. Sometimes I would start to edit what I’d already written, which was also very frustrating. Now I know this is a recipe for disaster. If you start editing before you know the ending, you’re wasting time switching things around that may not do you any good. I’ve learned the hard way, it’s much better to get the WHOLE thing out on paper first before you ever cut a word. And it’s better to get the WHOLE PLOT OUTLINED before you even start writing. I know there are many writers out there who claim to be pantsers, but I suspect they have an entire plot from beginning to end in their head before they start. It just isn’t written down.

I started writing Vessel for NaNoWriMo in 2011. I’m not a fast writer and I didn’t have any notions of finishing the book in one month, but I love the idea of writing every day on a project. If you write a page a day, in a year, you’ll have a 365 page book, right? Anyway, I started Vessel in late 2011 and worked on it off and on for most of the following year. In 2013, I started querying. I had seen Month 9 Books on Twitter and Facebook and was intrigued. Their focus on speculative fiction and the paranormal seemed right up my alley. I was delighted when publisher Georgia McBride requested the full manuscript based on a twitter pitch! I sent the manuscript to her and tried to forget about it for awhile. Waiting is really hard!!

In July 2013, on the last day of a writing workshop I was attending in Oregon, I got an e-mail from Georgia offering me a deal. Talk about make my day! It’s been a lot of work since then, but it’s a labor of love, that’s for sure. In the long waits between editing assignments, I’ve written three new novels. Now that Vessel is going out into the world, I’ll be starting the whole process over again! Whew!

Thanks Lisa, for stopping by to share your experience!

ABOUT VESSEL:
The sun exploded on April 18, 2112. It exploded in a Class X solar storm the likes of which humankind had never seen.

They had nineteen minutes.

Nineteen minutes until the geomagnetic wave washed over the Earth, frying every electrical device created by humans, blacking out entire continents, every satellite in their sky.

Nineteen minutes to say goodbye to the world they knew, forever, and to prepare for a new Earth, a new Sun.

Generations after solar storms have destroyed nearly all human technology on Earth and humans have reverted to a middle ages like existence, all knowledge of the remaining technology is kept hidden by a privileged few called the Reticents and books are burned as heresy.

Alana, a disfigured slave girl, and Recks, a traveling minstrel and sometimes-thief, join forces to bring knowledge and books back to the human race. But when Alana is chosen against her will to be the Vessel, the living repository for all human knowledge, she must find the strength to be what the world needs.

Goodreads Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks


ABOUT LISA T. CRESSWELL:
Lisa, like most writers, began scribbling silly notes, stories, and poems at a very young age. Born in North Carolina, the South proved fertile ground to her imagination with its beautiful white sand beaches and red earth. In fifth grade, she wrote, directed and starred in a play “The Queen of the Nile” at school, despite the fact that she is decidedly un-Egyptian looking. Perhaps that’s why she went on to become a real life archaeologist?

Unexpectedly transplanted to Idaho as a teenager, Lisa learned to love the desert and the wide open skies out West. This is where her interest in cultures, both ancient and living, really took root, and she became a Great Basin archaeologist. However, the itch to write never did leave for long. Her first books became the middle grade fantasy trilogy, The Storyteller Series. Her first traditionally published work, Hush Puppy, is now available from Featherweight Press.

Lisa still lives in Idaho with her family and a menagerie of furry critters that includes way too many llamas!

Connect with the Author: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Giveaway Information:  Winner will be drawn June 26, 2015
·        Five (5) winners will receive a digital copy of Vessel by Lisa T. Cresswell (INT)

Monday, May 25, 2015

Common Critiques



Last week, a fellow writer in my writers workshop told me that they always paid a little extra attention to my critiques in class.  That comment meant a lot to me.  It meant that I was not only going through the exercise of "critiquing", I was providing value.

Having reviewed and provided notes on scripts and manuscripts, here are a few issues that seem to pop up often and with a few tweaks, they can be resolved quickly.

1) Who's POV is it?

Sometimes we forget who's POV we're writing from.  We'll be deep into our protagonist's head and all of a sudden a scene pops up from a secondary character's POV.  You may have several characters who's POV's you're writing from and that's ok. The key is to ask yourself who's scene does this belong to and does switching POVs take your readers out of the action. 

2) Too much exposition

We want our readers to get to know our characters and we may feel it's important to tell stories about their past, family or history.  But instead of increasing the emotional connection between our readers and the protagonist, we may actually be distancing them.  Providing too much backstory can actually be a disservice.  It changes the mood and pacing of the scene and takes us out of what's going on at that moment.  If information about the past is to be revealed, it has to be grounded in the present.

3) Dialogue Tags

He said, she said, they asked, he mumbled, she griped.  These are all dialogue tags and having too many of them can be a distraction for the reader.  A great exercise is to print off a few pages of your manuscript and circle all the tags.  If you're seeing a lot of circles per page, then perhaps it's time to eliminate some of them.  One possibility is to replace the tag with an action by the speaker.  For example, "This tastes delicious!" Gary took another bite of the apple. 

Are there any common criticisms that you've seen in your critique groups?  Feel free to share here!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Win Books, Critiques, Swag and More During READ OR WRITE ANYWHERE!

~READ OR WRITE ANYWHERE~

Prizes for readers and writers alike!

To celebrate our love of reading and writing, I’ve teamed up with the YA Chicks and many participating authors on a global campaign to encourage readers, writers, students, and teachers to share pictures all of the places—both ordinary and extraordinary—where they are reading and writing. Sounds fun, right?  

So join us by taking part in a 

MONSTER GIVEAWAY! 

33 winners will receive books
16 schools/teachers will win Skype visits
16 writers will receive query and/or chapter critiques
2 Winners will receive swag!

 Every author participating in this campaign is giving away books, critiques, swag and/or Skype visits, including a chance to win a copy of my recent debut WHERE THE STAIRCASE ENDS. All you have to do is guess where we are reading or writing and enter to win.

So are you ready?


Drum roll….



My roof deck in this city is my most favorite place to write!
Can you guess where I am? 

Clue #1: If I moved to the left, you'd see the island where Al Capone used to "live"

Clue #2: There are delicious Dungeness crabs living in that bay behind me!

Clue #3: The cloudy sky behind me? This time of year it's sometimes called the "June Gloom" or "May Gray."

Clue #4: I left my heart here (literally, because I never left!)

Clue #5: Some people think that Rice-a-Roni is a treat for people who live here.


Once you’ve figured out where I’m writing head over to the YA Chicks site and:

Officially enter the giveaway by inputting each author’s name and your guesses about our locations. Every author location you guess correctly increases your chances to win. 

For even more chances, post a picture of yourself reading or writing on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #ReadOrWriteAnywhere (must have the hashtag). 

For writer prize packs:

Post pictures of yourself writing in a fun location on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #ReadOrWriteAnywhere. Then follow the directions on the Rafflecopter giveaway to let us know you did it. 

For even more chances, gather your writer friends together and post a group shot with the hashtag #ReadOrWriteAnywhere (must have the hashtag). And hey, since you're already together, why not host a write-a-thon?

For teacher prize packs:

Post pictures of your class reading or writing on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #ReadOrWriteAnywhere (must have the hashtag). 

Then let us know you did it when you enter the Rafflecopter. If you don't have a Twitter or Instagram, you can email your picture directly with the picture pasted directly into the email (no attachments--we won't open them) AND the subject, “Read or Write Anywhere.” 

You can also check out the YA Chicks Read or Write Anywhere lesson plan, available on their site

Now, what are you waiting for? Get out there and READ OR WRITE ANYWHERE!

#ReadOrWriteAnywhere






Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Writer's Voice Blogfest - Montana Gold

Note to our regular readers: I'm participating in The Writer's Voice Blogfest today with a pitch for my latest manuscript. We'll be back to regular blog content tomorrow!

Query
For perpetual slacker Simon, graduating from high school just means his parents are going to make his life a living hell until he manages to get into a good college. When he finds a map his miner ancestor left to a hidden cache of gold, he figures getting out of dodge—and adding a little adventure to his monotonous life—might be a good idea. He hops a plane to the wilds of Montana, but it doesn’t take him long to realize he’s completely in over his head.

Savvy local Maggie takes pity on the city boy, but she has a secret past and a hidden agenda of her own. Finding the gold is her last chance to keep everything she loves, and she doesn’t care who gets hurt in the process.

As Simon and Maggie follow the clues left by his ancestor, what started out as a fun adventure quickly turns serious when they're stranded in the woods and word of the clues gets around to the wrong people. Simon and Maggie must outsmart a crazed mountain man, drug smugglers, and the wilderness itself to get to the gold first and get out of there alive. And when Simon starts falling for Maggie—not to mention Montana—he begins to think life after high school might not be so predictable after all.

MONTANA GOLD is a YA adventure/romance in the vein of a genderswapped Romancing the Stone. It's complete at 85,000 words. I make my living as a freelance copywriter and am a member of SCBWI.

First 250 Words
The day Simon found the first clue to his great-great-great-great uncle’s gold started out pretty crappy. In the morning, he graduated from high school. A class of three thousand, seven hundred forty-one pretty much guaranteed a comatose audience by the time they got to Wexler, Simon. After the ceremony, he stood on the lawn in front of the school with his mom, dad, and brother David like the other graduates and tried to pretend he wasn’t bored out of his mind.

Afterward, instead of giving Simon a break, maybe a little time to shower off the rented gown stink or chill at his computer, his parents had planned a graduation party. Simon's former classmates must have been more impressed by his Dartmouth-professor parents than he was, because there were over a hundred people at their house by four-thirty.

He escaped to the backyard after an hour and was sitting on the edge of the pool with his dress pants rolled up, shoes off, and feet in the water when his best friend Matt found him.

"This party blows chunks," Matt said, kicking off his shoes and flopping down beside Simon.

"I had nothing to do with it," Simon said. "I take no responsibility for its vomit-inducing properties."

"MageWars later?"

"Definitely." A few hours of the best online game in the universe would go a long way toward erasing the suck of the day.

The porch door whacked open behind them.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Keeping It Real - Food For Thought

We are what we eat. . . or so the saying goes. According to scientists, this statement may be true. Apparently, bacteria inside our guts affect how we think and even behave. Interesting!  Food affecting personality. Huh?!  What a fun way to add another dimension to our characters by pairing their personality to the types of food they eat.

Doing a little research, this is what I came up with for snacks and ice cream:

Snack Foods and Personality
 
(www.nytimes.com/2000/01/03/weekinterview/word-for-word-junk-food-psychology-triscuit-cheez-doodles-window-into-soul.com)
  
1. Tortilla chips - ideal house guest, concerned about others, strive for excellence
2. Pretzels - energetic, Life of the Party, likes novelty and challenges, starts new projects without  
                    finishing old projects
3. Snack Crackers - thoughtful, shy, avoids confrontations, doesn't want to hurt people's feelings,
                     diverse interests & has multiple projects going on at once
4. Cheese Curls - formal, proper, conscientious, high morals & sense of justice, planner
5. Meat Snacks - social, generous, loyal, self-sacrificing

                                                           Ice Cream and Personality

(www.buzzfeed.com/joannaburns/what-your-favorite-ice-cream-says-about-your-personality)

 1. Vanilla - classy, wise, respectful
 2. Strawberry - kind, but bold
 3. Chocolate - smart, loved, talented
 4. Mint Chocolate Chip - jovial, but complains about social injustices
 5. Coffee - laid back
 6. Cookies and Cream - smart & loves reading
 7. Butter Pecan - old fashion values, classic
 8. Green Tea - calm on the outside, personal strengthen on the inside
 9. Rocky Road - risk taker
10. Cookie Dough - child at heart & charming
11. Chocolate Chip - know what you want
12. Peanut Butter - rowdy, go after what you want
13. Chocolate Peanut Butter - hugger
14. Pistachio - sophisticated

For some more fun with food, try out these sites:

www.playbuzz.com/what-kind-of-food-describes-your-personality
www.divinecaroline.com/lifestyle/food-drink/eating-habits-and-personality-surprising-connections.com
www.timigustafson.com/2009/different-personality-types-different-eating-habits

And remember, it doesn't matter whether a character is sweet or salty.  In the end, readers just want a character who is real.  Happy snacking . . .  I mean reading!


And in case you are wondering about my ice cream choice, then yup, I'm jovial and I totally complain about social injustices.  I am Mint Chocolate Chip all the way!!! 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Gearing Up to Tackle Revisions

I'm plugging away on my draft (whenever I can!), and now I'm starting to think about the major revisions looming in my future. I have "to fix" and "to add" documents that I've been keeping up as I draft, but the sheer number of items on each is daunting.

What I need is a revision plan. Luckily for me, there are lots of great resources to help me get organized. One of the absolute best I've ever seen is Susan Dennard's Tackling Revisions post on the Pub(lishing) Crawl blog. She suggests isolating the big-picture issues first, then breaking each one into a series of manageable chunks. One of my favorite pieces of advice from this post is to do an outline of your story after you finish the first draft, and before you revise. This will show you pretty quickly which scenes add to the story and which need to be cut.

(Side note: that Susan Dennard's pretty smart. She's also the author of the How to Write a 1-Page Synopsis worksheet, the only one I've found that actually makes short synopsis writing bearable.)

Marissa Meyer (author of the Lunar Chronicles series) explains her revision process here. She's also a fan of writing out all of your scenes to see which ones are working and which ones aren't. She adds the advice to color-code all of the main plots and subplots. I love this advice! It seems like an excellent way to see at a glance which plots need more airtime and which are taking up too much space.

And finally, former agent-turned-author Nathan Bransford has some encouraging words for the inevitable revision fatigue--you know, that moment when you're so sick of the book that you never want to see it again. Having gotten to this point with all four manuscripts I've finished, I'm keeping that one in my back pocket. The comments are definitely worth a read, too.

How do you tackle revisions?

Friday, May 8, 2015

Author Spotlight + Giveaway: Lisa T. Cresswell with Giveaway #M9BFridayReveals

Hi everyone!  I'm excited to introduce you to another great YA author and giveaway. 

This week, we are featuring
Lisa T. Cresswell, author of Vessel

Lisa will be joining us later this month with a guest post as part of her upcoming book release.

Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!

Lisa 

T. Cresswell

Meet Lisa T. Cresswell!
Lightening Round Questions

Twitter or Facebook? Twitter by far!
Favorite Superhero? Hulk
Favorite TV show? Um, I don't watch tv anymore.
Sweet or Salty? Sweet
Coke or Pepsi? Pepsi before I gave it up; now its coffee :)
Any Phobias? Heights/fear of falling
Song you can’t get enough of right now? They play it way too much, but
I still like Uptown Funk.
Who is your ultimate Book Boyfriend? That's tough. I'm sure Peta's up
there. I'll get back to you on that one ;)
What are you reading right now or what's on your TBR? I want to read
the latest Neil Gaiman book. Always!
Fall Movie you’re most looking forward to? It's really next winter,
but it's STAR WARS!!
Lisa, like most writers, began scribbling silly notes, stories, and poems at a very young age. Born in North Carolina, the South proved fertile ground to her imagination with its beautiful white sand beaches and red earth. In fifth grade, she wrote, directed and starred in a play “The Queen of the Nile” at school, despite the fact that she is decidedly un-Egyptian looking. Perhaps that’s why she went on to become a real life archaeologist?
Unexpectedly transplanted to Idaho as a teenager, Lisa learned to love the desert and the wide open skies out West. This is where her interest in cultures, both ancient and living, really took root, and she became a Great Basin archaeologist. However, the itch to write never did leave for long. Her first books became the middle grade fantasy trilogy, The Storyteller Series. Her first traditionally published work, Hush Puppy, is now available from Featherweight Press. 
Lisa still lives in Idaho with her family and a menagerie of furry critters that includes way too many llamas!
Connect with the Author:  Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads



The sun exploded on On April 18, 2112 in a Class X solar storm the likes of which humankind had never seen.
They had exactly nineteen minutes to decide what to do next.
They had nineteen minutes until a geomagnetic wave washed over the Earth, frying every electrical device created by humans, blacking out entire continents, and every satellite in their sky.
Nineteen minutes to say goodbye to the world they knew, forever, and to prepare for a new Earth, a new Sun.

Generations after solar storms destroyed nearly all human technology on Earth, humans reverted to a middle ages-like existence, books are burned as heresy, and all knowledge of the remaining technology is kept hidden by a privileged few called the Reticents.
Alana, a disfigured slave girl, and Recks, a traveling minstrel and sometimes- thief, join forces to bring knowledge and books back to the human race. But when Alana is chosen against her will to be the Vessel, the living repository for all human knowledge, she must find the strength to be what the world needs even if it’s the last thing she wants.
add to goodreadsTitle: Vessel
Publication date: May 2014
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Author: Lisa T. Cresswell
amazon
Giveaway
Complete the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win!
The book will be sent upon the titles release.

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Monday, May 4, 2015

Climbing the Writing Mountain

Man climbing mountain

It's been a few weeks since I've jump started my writing again and while things are slow (well, compared to NANOWRIMO, slow), I can't help but feel invigorated.  I count myself lucky to be living in a city with a resource like San Diego Writers, Ink. and I'm now in week four of T. Greenwood's Novel II: Intermediate Novel Writing course. 

I've taken a number of classes and workshops previously and it did cross my mind 'am I taking a few steps back?'  But that idea was quickly wiped out as I immersed myself in the course and my writing.  Some of you may be in the same boat.  You may be asking yourself 'should I take another course when I've taken workshops before?' 

In my case, the answer was yes.  Having taken a break from writing, I needed to be reminded, to exercise my brain, and listening to others talk.  Reading John Truby's The Anatomy of Story and following the exercises and experiences of others in class helped me to think and build my own story in the process. It made me think about things that I wouldn't have thought about and in a way "forces" me to think.

Next week I submit the first four pages of my new manuscript.  Wish me luck!

In the meantime, I leave you with this great article about filter words by Suzannah Windsor that was forwarded to me by another great writer/editor Lorin Oberweger

"Filter words are those that unnecessarily filter the reader’s experience through a character’s point of view." 

It's one of the most useful articles I've come across in recent history.  How many of these can you find in your own work?