Friday, August 22, 2014

Book Blitz & Giveaway: My Tethered Soul by Dorothy Dreyer

Welcome to the My Tethered Soul Book Blitz and Giveaway.

About the book:

It’s been months since Zadie faced her sister’s Reaper, months during which she’s been under her mentor’s magical protection. But now that she’s turning seventeen, that protection is about to run out.

When dark forces lure Zadie to wander at night, she’s manipulated into committing unspeakable acts. With her friends and family at risk, Zadie must try to use her powers to break free from the Reaper’s grasp, or surrender to the Reaper’s Rite, which can only lead to death.


Once I reached the hall, all the blood drained from my head. I stumbled in the hallway and had to slap my hand against the wall to steady myself. Everything swayed back and forth before me. The lights dimmed then got brighter. Or was the headache merely traveling to my eyes?

I pushed myself forward and finally reached the bathroom. I had to pause at the door for a moment to get the room to stop swimming before me. The sink was just two feet away from me, but it felt like miles. Holding my fingers to my temples, I thrust myself forward to the sink. The cool porcelain felt great on my hot skin. But only for a moment. Maybe I really was coming down with something.

I turned the tap on and leaned down, hoping a splash of water on my face would do the trick. Closing my eyes, I filled my palms with cold water and then splashed my face with it, allowing the icy liquid to run down my cheeks to my chin. The floor moved under my feet, so I steadied myself by gripping the counter.

You’re fine, Zadie. Get ahold of yourself.

I straightened up to check myself in the mirror. The eyes looking back at me were black.

That couldn’t be, could it?

Then my reflection smirked at me.

Read My Tethered Soul (Reaper’s Rite 2) today:

Don't miss MY SISTER'S REAPER, book one in the Reaper's Rite Series:

My Sister’s Reaper (Reaper’s Rite 1)

Connect with Dorothy Dreyer:

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

SCBWI Summer Conference in Review

It seems like the conference was just last week, but in reality I’ve been back from Los Angeles for two weeks. The time flew by. My day job helped with that. It’s been crazy busy, but I’ve also been inspired to finish my YA realistic fiction. I’m happy to say I’m well on my way, but I’ve put off sharing some of the highlights from the conference long enough. So, without further procrastination…

I flew down with my good friends and writing buddies, Kym Brunner and Katie Sparks. 

Our first stop -- the Pink Taco for lunch. 

Katie Sparks, Kym Brunner, and me
Katie and me

The conference officially started Friday. 1,235 people gathered this year. 630 were published authors or illustrators from nineteen countries, plus the USA. The energy in the ballroom was incredible.

If you want our children to be intelligent, read your children fairy tales. If you want them to be even more smart, read them more fairy tales. –Einstein

Award winning author, Meg Rosoff, shared that Einstein quote at the beginning of her inspiring keynote. She reminded us that faults are important and that we should treasure them. Enjoy your good qualities, but when the going gets tough, fall back on your faults. As should your characters.

I like that little tidbit of advice.

Speaking of advice, seven editors shared their do’s and don’ts during the editor panel.

It was no surprise that the editors look for stories with a strong voice that is fresh and age appropriate. They also want to be hooked on the first page. This is something writers hear over and over. So what are some of the turn-offs? Here’s what they had to say, in no particular order:

  • Don’t overwhelm the reader with all the details on the first page.
  • Don’t try to mimic another writer’s voice. (Suggestion on this one: write in your own voice.)
  • Don’t try to teach.
  • Pay attention to the end. You want it to go right into the heart.
  • Don’t tell with long descriptions. (Show.)
  • When submitting, don’t be weird by accompanying your submission with odd items.

Are any of these don'ts in your writing? If you answered yes, no worries. That’s why we revise.

And good news for all picture book writers, they’re continuing their come back. Middle grade is also growing.

Stephen Chbosky, author of Perks of Being a Wallflower, broke down the secrets of writing your timeless classic, or die trying. He makes it sound so simple. Find a great idea. Find the right genre and age level. Find the right POV. Come up with a great title. Easy right?

Okay, that won’t guarantee an instant classic, but I imagine that’s where the die trying comes in. And, really, every great classic started with an idea. Speaking of the classics, study them. Stephen’s advice: pick your genre and look at every truly outstanding novel in that genre, and then look at what they have in common.

Me with Maggie Stiefvater
A big time highlight of the conference for me was meeting Maggie Stiefvater. I discovered her first novel, Lament, at the library and really enjoyed her twist on fairy lore. This was long before Shiver was published.  If you haven’t read Lament, I highly recommend it.

In Maggie’s breakout session she talked about building characters. Her rules for characters started with the narrator, who should be the character who shifts the plot the most—the character who changes the most. I happily agree with her. 

There were so many inspiring keynotes and breakout session—like the interview with Tommie Depaola and Judy Blume’s keynote. Unfortunately, it’s impossible for me to talk about all of the great sessions without making this post too long, but you can read about them on SCBWI’s conference blog. Team Blog did an amazing job of keeping the blog posts coming throughout the conference. Hop on over to peruse the site at your leisure.

A few of last quotes before I end this post…

Writing is the art of choosing detail.  – Bruce Coville

Write what you know the essence of.  – Maggie Stiefvater

When diversity is done well, readers emphasize with the characters.  – Adriana Dominguez

A big thanks to Lin Oliver, Stephen Mooser and the rest of the SCBWI staff for putting together yet another amazing conference. I hope to see you next year!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Meet Jordy Albert of The Booker Albert Literary Agency

With me today is literary agent and co-founder of The BookerAlbert Literary Agency, Jordy Albert .  She was gracious enough to answer some questions for us on writing and the type of books that hook her.

My followers would like to get to know you better for stalking purposes. Tell us a little about yourself and what made you want to be an agent.

I’ve always loved to read, and I was interested in the publishing industry from an early age.

What advice would you give aspiring authors?

Keep writing! It might not happen with your first dozen projects, but I think practice does make perfect and eventually it will happen. Also, READ. A LOT. Especially in the genre you write. Join writing groups, get a Beta reader/critique partner (group), enter pitch contests, and attend conferences.

What elements are MUST HAVES in a story you’d ask to see more of?

Characters that draw me in right away.

Besides basic grammatical errors and writers sending stories in genres you don’t represent, what are most common problems with the submissions you receive?

Many submissions just don’t follow guidelines. For instance, we ask that you don’t send attachments unless requested, or the author will just send sample pages with no query. I also receive submissions that have no name or contact information, and sometimes the author will just send a link to a website.

What’s on your wish list?  

I am such a sucker for historical romance (especially Regency). I’d also like to see more realistic MG/YA…Oh! And contemporary, and sci-fi YA.

Okay, now for some fun questions to get to know you.

All time favorite villain – Voldemort.

Last book that made you cry – The Fault in Our Stars.

Guilty pleasure – French fries and chocolate shake, and binge watching Doctor Who/Sherlock when I have time.

Book you feel everyone must read that’s not from one of your clients? To Kill A Mockingbird.

Hobbies – Reading lol …knitting, trying to learn more French and Japanese.

Favorite place you’ve ever visited – Japan.

Thank you, Jordy, for taking the time to answer the questions.

To learn more about Jordy Albert, follow her on Twitter or visit The Booker Albert Agency.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Shoving Insecurities into the Corner #IWSG

Hi everyone! 

Welcome to Insecure Writer's Support Group. We are a group writers who share our doubts and encouragements. I'd like to thank Alex Cavanaugh and this month's hosts. Learn more about the group here.

I just got back from SCBWI’s Summer Conference in Los Angeles, so I’m energized and excited to get back to my work-in-progress and to apply many of the tips and techniques learned. (I’ll be posting some of the highlights from the conference next week.) My insecurities are just going to have to hide in a corner until the high from the conference subsides, because I’m sure it will.

As some of you may remember, last month I asked for writer-ly questions for a post I was doing for the group blog I’m a part of. Since I could only pick one question for that post, I answered the others on my blog. The last two are below.

  Q:   “When you are writing, do you need complete silence or do you prefer some sort of background noise?” Optimistic

A: I don’t mind background noise. In fact, I often write in the family room when my husband is watching TV. I’m good at blocking it out. I can’t, however, listen to music when I’m writing. I end up singing along with the songs. J

  Q:   “What were the factors that led you to the decision to give so much of your heart and time to writing?” Nikki

A: I find writing relaxing. It’s not a job or a chore, but something I enjoy. Plus, I have so many story ideas floating around in my head. I like taking the characters and snippets of a scene, sitting down with my laptop, and seeing where they take me.

Thanks to everyone who asked a question for the Dear Author Dearest post that I contributed to on Darkly Delicious YA. For those who may have missed the posts, below is a list of the questions. Just click the questions to be redirected to that blog post.

How are you doing this month? Do you need silence to write? How do you decide what to spend money on when it comes to improving your craft? What led you to dedicate so much time to your writing?

Friday, August 1, 2014

Signed copy of CHALLENGING DESTINY up for grabs on Goodreads!

Hi everyone!

There's not one, but two signed copies of my newest teen paranormal romance/thriller up for grabs. Two giveaways means more chances for you to win. Check them out for yourself!

On Goodreads... 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Challenging Destiny by Cherie Colyer     

Challenging Destiny

by Cherie Colyer

Giveaway ends August 28, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

On Fandom Monthly... 

You can sign up for the tour and enter the giveaway by clicking the link below the banner.

Click here to sign up today!

And, as if that wasn't enough giveaways for one post, there's still time to enter to win a $20 gift card in the Challenging Destiny Book Blitz hosted by YA Bound.

Whew! That's a lot of giveaways. 

Good luck!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

When To Spend Money to Improve Our Writing

This topic comes from questions asked earlier this month. It's a multi-part question, so I broke it down a bit.

     “How about some guidance of spending money to improve our writing?"

     “When should a writer invest money in attending conferences, or getting professional critiques from writers/agents? When should a writer attend classes or workshops vs reading and practicing on their own?" 

Look at the money spent on conferences, critiques and classes as investing in yourself. There is no wrong time to invest in you.

If you have the opportunity to attend a writing conference, I highly recommend you go. These conferences have keynotes and workshops designed to help you with your writing. You will leave with newfound ways to improve your work. The same holds true with writing classes. Professional critiques can go either way. I’ve been fortunate when I’ve done these. The editor or agent provided thoughtful feedback that helped me to see where my writing lacked, what would improve the scene, and what worked. Critiques from established writers are also valuable. Writers know what elements are needed to catch a reader’s attention. They’re passionate about their craft and, if they’re doing critiques, they want to pass along their knowledge.

     “What about entering contests as a way of perfecting their craft, even if novels are their main interest?”

Some contests do offer feedback to contestants. Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award is one of them. If you make it to round two, you will be able to see the judges’ comments. I found this very helpful when I participated in this contest. Not all contests provided feedback, though. If you’re entering for feedback, then select contests accordingly.

     “General guideline stuff. It's easy to go too much one way or the other.”

The guidelines I use to decide if I’m going to attend a conference or sign up for a writing class are as follows:

  • Does the class/conference offer something that will help me improve my craft?
  • Can I afford to go?
  • Of my choices, is this the best choice for my current needs?
  • For conferences, are there going to be speakers there I want to hear?
  • As far as if I’m going to spend extra money on a professional critique, do I have something to submit? Even though the idea of a critique is to get feedback on my current work-in-progress, I know the first chapter of a first draft is most likely going to change. I like to wait until the first draft is done or I’m sure there aren’t going to be major changes to the plot or characters before submitting material for a professional critique.

I hope you find this helpful. I'd like to thank Kim for provided this quesitons.

If you have a tip to share, please share it in the comments.