Thursday, February 28, 2013

Interview with Marisa Cleveland!!

Hello! So today I have something different - an interview with the delightful Marisa Cleveland about her novella, The Valentine Challenge

1. What's the best Valentine's present YOU'VE ever given someone?
                Is this rated R or... *grins*

2. Favourite romantic love interest - excluding your own?
                I don't understand the question. Excluding my own? OH, like... Kate and Leopold! I love them! Also Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy.

3. Candy hearts with writing on them, or cinnamon hearts?
                Both. Do I have to choose? I've never been stellar at limiting myself.

4. Flowers or chocolates?
                Depends on what kind of flowers. Well, actually, no, never mind. Chocolates. Always chocolates.

5. Do you have plans to write more of Stacey and Marsh's story, or are you content to leave them where they are?
                They appear in other books. I have three South Beach books scheduled to release with Entangled's Indulgence line, with the first Indulgence out this July 2013.

6. What's your favourite part to write of a couple's journey to (hopefully) falling in love?
                I love the moment when they realize they are friends, and then they know it's something more than anything else they've ever experienced with another partner. It's more than attraction or lust. It's that moment when they need someone most - that shoulder to lean on or cry on or bounce an idea off of - and that other person is there for them in the most complete way possible. Yeah. That moment.

7. True or false - Romance is dead.
8. What's the craziest thing you've done for love? Was it worth it?
                I'd rather not say. I'm an intensely private person. It was beyond crazy - in my opinion - and it was absolutely worth it.
9. Is there anything you want your readers to know about The Valentine Challenge?
                This is my first anything ever published anywhere. I loved researching my South Beach series, and I hope this novella inspires office romances across the universe. :)

She is adorable! And fiercely talented! Thanks for being on my blog today Marisa! Be sure to check her out!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The next big thing

I'd been tagged by a few people to do this, the newest being the incorrigible Mina Vaughn

What is the working title of your book?

Where did the idea come from for the book?
I was reading a book one day, and it had been a bad month. I NEEDED a distraction in the form of a new, anticipated book. Then on the second page, there were underlined passages. 

I hate when people underline in books. Fine, if it's your textbook, great. But a public LIBRARY book, and a novel at that? *Feaky Smash!!*  I was SO ANNOYED! And the underlining didn't stop. It was throughout the book. I couldn't ignore it, and couldn't read the book. It got me thinking that would be a good scene. Who was reading the book, and why would she need a distraction? 

I have a condition called 'Synaesthesia.' I didn't think it was particularly interesting until people kept asking me about it, so I worked that into it as well. 

What genre does your book fall under?
 Definitely New Adult Contemporary commercial fiction. Some might say it's Chick Lit, but it has more of an edge. 

What is your book about?
A synaesthetic librarian who self-medicates her recent break up by smoking enough pot to give an elephant emphysema. 

 Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I'm represented by the amazing Marisa Cleveland of The Seymour Agency  

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I haven't found anyone who looks like Elle to me yet, but Dominic looks like Peter Badenhop.

 What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
This manuscript has the most ME in it of any other that I've written. It was painful, and cathartic to write. But it's also fun, and sometimes funny, and I think Elle is a character people will relate to. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Second. Book. Syndrome.

Confession time.

I didn't start reading Young Adult books until last year when I wrote my first YA manuscript. Once I did that, I figured I should see what else is out there. Know my (presumptuously hopeful assumption) competition. I was pleasantly surprised.

See, when I was a Young Adult, the YA category didn't exist yet. We had one little rack in the juvenile section in the library - with everything from James Howe, to Sweet Valley High, to The Baby Sitter's Club ETC. But nothing like there is today.

*mutters about today's teens being spoiled*

Anyway. My budget doesn't allow me to buy many books, so most of the books I read are loaned from the library I work at. Our system has a handy dandy feature that maintains a reading history. Since Jan 1st 2012, I've taken out nearly 500 books. Now, I'd say about 50 of these items weren't books - CD's, Movies, Magazines.

But even if taking half of these as Adult, that's still a crap load of YA books to jam into a year - especially since I didn't begin reading YA until about May of 2012.

Many of my writer friends have been reading YA for years, and were more than happy to give me their recommendations.

I was playing catch-up like nobody's business!And surprisingly, most of the books I read were good! Some great!


Here's the thing.

My writer friends who read these books all along may not have noticed some of the things I have. Similar plots. Similar characterizations.

*I* may not have noticed if I'd read these books over Four or Five years like they did. But because I jammed them into a few months I couldn't help but be smacked in the face by some blatantly overdone things.

*Sidenote, one of my biggest pet peeves is the MC being SO shocked any guy would look at her because, gee she's so clumsy and that is obviously a deal breaker to anyone, and omfg why would any guy ever think she's hot because she's soooooo plain, but every single male in the book basically trips over their erections trying to make her their girlfriend, but she doesn't notice this because her hideous clumsy plain looks block her sense of reality*

But I digress...

From movies to books, you have to have noticed that we're living in the era of the trilogy. Sometimes this is warranted: Lord of The Rings. Sometimes it is NOT: The Hobbit. The Matrix.

Some of them are making trilogies to milk as much cash from the franchise as possible. Other times, it's because there's too much story to be told in one book, or two. Regardless of WHY they do it, they are still doing it. Some more successfully than others.

I've suspected for some time that many YA series' could be done in one book, maybe two. But definitely not three.

Because I didn't have to wait a year in between book one and two; because I've come upon the series NOW when it's complete, I've read the complete story in a short amount of time. And something's amok.

Generally in book two.

Middle Book Syndrome.

Did the author REALLY plan this book? Was it because it was rushed?

I mean, assuming your writing journey goes in a fairly steady pace, and you write the first book and polish it, and rewrite based on crit partners feedback, then maybe you get an agent R&R and then they FINALLY sign you. Say that happens.

Then the agent sells your book! YAY!

But maybe you get a three book deal. OMG! YAY! CONGRATS! Book one is worked on - inline edits, copy edits etc. Then it's PUBLISHED!

But what if you never planned to have more than two in the series, or worse - what if you never even really thought about book two because you were a focused laserbeam of writerly intensity about book 1, not daring to look beyond getting signed?!

So all the sudden you've got to come up with a synopsis for a book two and three in a series you never intended on being a series, but you do it anyways because now there's a contract and it's in writing and the advance has already been spent on paying off bills.

Here's the thing. Book one usually rocks because the writer spent the most time on it. It was their baby. The one that scored an agent or a deal. It was coddled, and polished, and hated, and loved, and cursed, and loved. It had time to percolate.

But here's the thing about multi book deals - they have tight fucking deadlines. You definitely will not have two years to give to book two.

You might not even have 6 months.

And here, in my opinion, is why a lot of the time, second books in a trilogy SUUUUUCK:

Because the author doesn't have the same amount of time to devote to book two. Maybe they never intended for there to be three books, but the good, amazing, juicy parts are the things they have plotted for book three.

Which leaves us wading through a bunch of bullshit in book two - and here's something else I've noticed.

Book 2 usually has no plot. Or not much of one.

Here's my observation of the arc of most YA trilogies.

I said MOST. I know there are fabulous ones out there. I'm ranting about the bad. Don't give me shit in the comments section defending the ones you love. Focus.

Book 1 - Main Character - usually a 16/ 17 year old girl meets The Boy she can't live without. Things Happen that keep them apart. Girl realizes she isn't a pathetic loser, and draws from inner strength. She gets with The Boy and saves the day... but then there's a twist showing the story isn't over!

Book 2 - Despite finding a HEA with The Boy, for some reason the plot of book 2 is generally a non plot of the MC's inner dialogue of neuroses and insecurities about The Boy and her relationship. 'WHY does he love me' 'I can't really trust him' blah blah blah. These "issues" and trust fails are the impetus for 98% of the book. The MC has lost all backbone we saw her gain in book 1. OR there's a REASON they can't be together - LI's safety, or some "noble" self sacrifice from the MC. The only plot comes in in the last few pages, revealing a GIANT "twist" and cliffhanger, which is basically only there as a setup for book 3. This WHOLE fucking book could be discounted and erased by taking those last ten pages, and putting them at the end of book one - or as the beginning of book three. NOTHING would be lost.

Book 3 - More neurotic flailings between the MC and The Boy, until he does something that finally "proves" he was her true love all along. They beat the baddies, and save the day. And live happily ever after.

WHY do we need book 2? We don't. In many cases, and many series' I've read - we didn't need book two.
 And as of late, I've read no less than *5* book two's that followed this formula, wasted my time, and made me regret that I fell in love with the first book.

Because book two has soured me to both your MC, and you as a writer.

I'VE read books out there. I'm assuming you have too. So why do I keep seeing this pattern?


Writers, don't let your CP's get away with this lazy bullshit.

If you read this in a friend's MS, SAVE THEM FROM THEMSELVES! SAY something!

Writers, for the love of all that is unholy, and the last, rapidly fraying shred of my sanity - PLEASE stop doing this to your trilogies!

With each book we write, we should get better. Our voices should shine more than ever. We should stretch and grow! Book two should be BETTER than book one - or at least not make the reader feel like throwing the book across the room, and cursing you out on twitter/ goodreads/ facebook/ to anyone within bitching distance.

(Bitching distance used to be limited to friends and family. Now, with the internet as it is, word of mouth is worth WAY more, and can be WAY more damaging than it used to be. Keep this in mind.)

If you're writing a YA urban fantasy, or thriller, or ANYTHING YA really, that can't be considered a stand alone, then baby, you need to have plans in motion for book two.

Because that agent/ book deal will take forever, then come out of nowhere. And you need to be prepared.

(Also, if I'm your CP and you've written book one, and then skipped merrily away leaving me with a cliffhanger, I probably hate you, and you probably know it. I'm vocal like that.) :)

 Don't wait until you've got a three book deal to try to figure out book two's plot. Guaranteed if you do that, you won't have the time to make book two all it should be.

We can't unwrite a book once it's been published. You can't take a rushed non-plot back. You might not get those readers to give you another chance.

Do you really want your readers to say, 'OMG book one was AMAZING! Well. Okay. Book two sucks, but the series picks up again in book three! Hang in there!' ?

Because, LAME.

Plan ahead. BE VOCAL with your CP's if you see them making this mistake. Spread awareness about this fucking issue, because honestly, I'm going to lose my fragile little mind if I read more of these shitty book two's.

Only YOU can prevent Second Book Syndrome.


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The winner - Angsty Poet Laureate!

There was anger. There were tears. There was smack-talk on Twitter. Now there's the winner.

BUT FIRST, let me present MY Angsty Poem.

I wrote this in 2000. I was 18. I could see it being a song. A very angry song.

It's called, 'All's well that ends well.'

Hell doesn't exist, and if it did
It still wouldn't want MY suicide
My lover is missed
He makes no bid
To salvage the remainder of my pride.
Do you appreciate your punishment?
Of having me stay by your side.
Can't alleviate my banishment
You never even fucking tried.
All is perfect, all is well
All's fantastic
Burn in hell
I'm all that's left
A fucking shell
All is well that ended well.

So. Yeah. AWKWARD! Hope you enjoyed that. ;) I'm sure you're itching to know who the winner is - that is, if you haven't cheated, and scrolled down to see who won.

The winner of the first annual Feaky Snucker's Angsty Poem Contest, is...

 Rebecca Mckeown

YAY! Congratulations! You win the $50 Thinkgeek gift certificate! Put your email addy in the comments section, and I'll get that code to you immediately.

But wait - there's more!

There's always fine print. And fine print usually bends you over and leaks unpleasantness all over you. NOT THIS TIME!

There will be ANOTHER vote. Fan's choice. Comment in the comments section of THIS post with the name of the entrant you want to win the Fan's Choice prize!

YOU get to decide who gets a $25 Thinkgeek giftcard! YAY!

Pimp yourself out on twitter or wherever you want. Voting for yourself is tacky, but allowed. ;)

Voting ends, and winner of the runner up prize will be announced on Saturday.

Go! Vote! Win!

And I'll see you later.