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.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Challenging Destiny Blog Tour Sign Up!

I'm very excited about my upcoming spotlight on Fandom MonthlyYou can sign up for the tour and enter the giveaway by clicking the link below the banner.

Click here to sign up today!
About the book...

Being Chosen is a terrible thing when 
there's no one you can trust.
Logan Ragsdale and his younger sister, Ariana, have been marked, chosen to be unwilling participants in a war between angels and demons.

Logan can sense something's not quite right. Like an unexpected chill on a summer's day, he can feel the unseen closing in. He's had these feelings before and, each time, someone close to him died. He's afraid this time it might just be Ariana.

​Logan's fears are soon confirmed when he discovers their new friends aren't human, but rather representatives from Heaven and Hell sent to Earth to ensure he and Ariana accept their roles in an ancient prophecy. Demons want Logan to open the gates of Hell. Ariana has the power to stop them, but if she chooses to side with Heaven to spare the lives of thousands of innocent people, she'll damn her brother for eternity.

Together, they must derail the biblical event if they hope to save themselves and the future of mankind...but what price are they willing to pay to keep the other safe?

On a side note, here's still time to enter to win a $20 gift card in the Challenging Destiny Book Blitz hosted by YA Bound.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Finding a Good Editor

This post continues with the writer-ly questions I was asked earlier this month. Now, keep in mind there are many answers to this question. Below are my thoughts. Please share your thoughts in the comments. The collective information will help us all.

"How does one find a good editor?"

I've been fortunate to work with two amazing editors at two different publishers. We clicked, and we had the same vision for my stories. That’s not to say they didn't questions a character’s action or a plot point. They did. Sometimes brutally, drilling down to the smallest details, and my stories were always better for it. If I ever dive into the realm of self publishing, I’d want my novels edited to the same degree as my traditionally published novels.

So how does one find a good editor? References.

I’m a firm believer in word of month. If you’re in the market for an editor, be it for line edits or developmental edits, ask your agent or other authors if they have an editor that they would recommend. If there’s an editor you have in mind, ask for references and then reach out to several people to find out what their experience was like.

No matter if you’re looking for an editor to help polish your story before going out on submission or because you are self publishing, you want her to be familiar with the category and genre you’re writing. There are elements of young adult you don’t find in new adult or adult and vice versa. You want an editor that knows what they are. Look at books the editor has worked on. Ask the editor questions. You can get a feel for a person by their responses. Ask if she is willing to read the first few pages of your book to make sure it's something that interests her. This last point is important for developmental edits. An editor that connects with the characters and plot will be able to provide better feedback than someone who doesn't

Thanks, Ken, for the questions!

Let us know if you have additional advice.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

My Time Divvied Up -- Pie Charts Included

I want to thank everyone who asked me a question for my Dear Author Dearest post on Darkly Delicious YA. It was difficult to chosee just one question, but I went with "What's your take on voice? Some people say it can't be learned. Do you agree?” because this is a subject that comes up a lot when speaking to aspiring authors. You can click here to see my response.

As promised, I'm going to take the next few weeks to answer the other questions here on my blog, starting with how I divvy up my time. 

Here's the question:

     "I'd like to see how people divvy up their time between writing/blogging/social media. Pie charts please."

I have this information included in one of my school presentations, pie charts and all. J

For the purpose of this post, "blogging" is included "social media". Most of that time is either writing or reading blog posts, with time on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media kept to a minimum. 

How I divide my time changes depending on the time of year (I write less in summer than I do in winter) and if I have a book coming out (just swap “writing” and “marketing” and you’ll get a good idea of how my time shifts during the weeks leading up to a release). But overall, the charts below do a good job of depicting a typical workday. 

Before I was published, writing time really was writing time. You'll notice I include querying, social media, and reading. I'd take a break from writing to do research on agents and editors, keep up with my friends on social media, bounce around the blog-sphere, and of course enjoy a good read.

Once I sold my first book more time went to keeping up with emails and marketing. Just before a release, writing time is spent writing guest posts, doing interviews, and preparing for the release date.

The above charts make it look like I spent most of my day writing, and that would be amazing. But I work full-time and then there are all of life's other little distractions. Below is a realistic look at a typical 24-hour day.

How does this compare to your typical day? Do you limit how much time you spend on social media? Does the amount of time you spend writing/blogging/on social media change depending on the time of year?

Thanks Leslie S. for this questions!

Feel free to use this idea for a similar post on your blog. Be sure to come back and post the link to your post in the comments so I can stop by.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Challenging Destiny Book Blitz & Giveaway

Being Chosen is a terrible thing
when there's no one you can trust.

Welcome to the CHALLENGING DESTINY Book Blitz!!

I'd like to thank YA Bound Book Tours for putting this event together. They are truly amazing to work with! I'd also like to thank the wonderful book bloggers for participating. Your support means the world to me.

To celebrate Challenging Destiny's worldwide release, I'm giving away a $20 Gift Card, so be sure to page down and enter the giveaway.

Publisher: Wild Rose Press, Black Rose Imprint
Kindle Release: March 27, 2014
Worldwide Release: July 11, 2014

About the book:                                  
Logan Ragsdale and his younger sister, Ariana, have been marked, chosen to be unwilling participants in a war between angels and demons.

Logan can sense something's not quite right. Like an unexpected chill on a summer's day, he can feel the unseen closing in. He's had these feelings before and, each time, someone close to him died. He's afraid this time it might just be Ariana.

Logan's fears are soon confirmed when he discovers their new friends aren't human, but rather representatives from Heaven and Hell sent to Earth to ensure he and Ariana accept their roles in an ancient prophecy. Demons want Logan to open the gates of Hell. Ariana has the power to stop them, but if she chooses to side with Heaven to spare the lives of thousands of innocent people, she'll damn her brother for eternity.

Together, they must derail the biblical event if they hope to save themselves and the future of mankind...but what price are they willing to pay to keep the other safe?

Available from:
AmazonAmazon UK * Barnes & Noble * Kobo Books

$20 Amazon or Barnes & Noble Gift Card (INT)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book reviewers can request a review copy by clicking here.

Book Blitz Organized by:

Friday, July 11, 2014

Second Daughter (The Dharian Affairs #2), by Susan Kaye Quinn

Second Daughter (The Dharian Affairs #2)

Assassins, skyships, and royal intrigue...


Kindle, Kobo, AllRomance

Second Daughter is the second book in The Dharian Affairs trilogy (Third Daughter, Second Daughter, First Daughter). This steampunk-goes-to-Bollywood (Bollypunk!) romance takes place in an east-Indian-flavored alternate world filled with skyships, assassins, royal romance and intrigue.

Reviews of the first book, Third Daughter:

"The author fuses carriages, steam trains, airships and clockwork with the rich eastern culture that underlies Bollywood storytelling..." - Cherie Reich

"The political intrigue, the steampunk gadgets, and the beautiful costumes kept me in wonderment." - Tony Benson

“Third Daughter is vividly breathtaking. Quinn delivers royal intrigue, exotic locations, and sweeping romance. Not to be missed!” - Pavarti Tyler, author of Shadow on the Wall

ON SALE - 99 cents until 7/21

Third Daughter (The Dharian Affairs #1)
Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iTunes, AllRomance
(also available in print)

The Third Daughter of the Queen wants her birthday to arrive so she'll be free to marry for love, but rumors of a new flying weapon may force her to accept a barbarian prince's proposal for a peace-brokering marriage. Desperate to marry the charming courtesan she loves, Aniri agrees to the prince's proposal as a subterfuge in order to spy on him, find the weapon, and hopefully avoid both war and an arranged marriage to a man she does not love.

Both books now have a map!

Thank you so much for helping me get this book out in the world! Win paperback copy of Third Daughter  $10 Amazon Gift Card
check out the gorgeous formatting of the print book!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Stop by PNR Radio: Entertainment that Goes "Bump" in the Night

I'm super excited to be a guest on PNR Radio with host Arial Burnz. I hope you'll take a few minutes to check out the show.

Follow one of the links below to listen to the podcast:

About Arial and PNR Radio:

In partnership with ILoveVampireNovels.com, author Arial Burnz is the host of the podcast PNRradio.com, where she features entertainment that goes bump in the night. If you love paranormal and fantasy books, TV shows and movies, you’ll love PNR Radio! Guests include bestselling authors (e.g., Nalini Singh, Kami Garcia, Julie Kagawa) and celebrities (from TV shows like Supernatural and Dracula), and every show has a giveaway.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Book Birthday! The Devil Made Me Do It by Shawna Romkey

Congratulations to fellow Darkly Delicious YA member, Shawna Romkey on her release of The Devil Made Me Do It, book two in her Speak of the Devil series! Shawna is here with us today, plus I have an excerpt for you, but before we get to that, here's a little about the book...

The Devil Made Me Do It, Book two: Speak of the Devil series

By Shawna Romkey
Coming July 1 - Go to hell!

The demons strike back!

Lily is working with the angels to stifle the last of the demon outbreaks and to figure out how to stop the Silence of God, so life can get back to boring normality. But all hell breaks loose when she’s stolen from school and brought face to face with the devil himself. Lily has to find her way back home to Luc, crack the prophecy that breaks the curse silencing God, and figure out how she and Luc can ever really be together; but Lucifer has other plans for her that don’t include her ever getting out of Hell in tact.

Book One, Speak of the Devil, 
is currently on sale for $2.99 for Kindle.

Please let me welcome Shawna.

Cherie: Tell us about your novel, THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT, in your own words.
Shawna: THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT is Book two in the Speak of the Devil series. Speak of the Devil is the introductory book where we discover the characters, the world and the situation. In TDMMDI we are left in that world, and taken even farther when the main character Lily discovers a prophecy about the Silence of God and is taken to Hell.  It’s darker than the first book and is the transition between the origin book and the resolution book, which will be the third one in the series.  It’s The Empire Strikes Back of the trilogy, hence my tag line: The demons strike back!

Cherie: Where did you get the idea for your novel?
Shawna: Three of my friends died in a car crash when I was in high school. The first book in the series starts with a similar event. It’s something that happened nearly thirty years ago but still touches me, so I wanted to write about it to get it out but also have it make some sense. With real life, it’s hard to work through those things, but the paranormal allows me to give it meaning and purpose.

Cherie: It’s nice to have writing as an outlet. What was your most difficult chapter to write?
Shawna: My first chapters always suck, and the first chapters are the important ones. So usually I write them, the trudge along and finish the rest. The story matures and grows and twists from where it was at the beginning, so I can then go back and do a complete first chapter rewrite. That happened with both of these books. In the first book it originally started with Lily getting a phone call hearing about her friends dying in an accident. That was too passive. After I finished the book, I went back to chapter one and put Lily in the accident with her friends, and that, as Frost would say, made all the difference. It made for a much more immediate beginning, added action and gave a reason for how she got her abilities.

Cherie: Oh! I like that you put her in the car. That is more immediate. What are you working on now?
Shawna: I’m currently working on a new potential series called 13 Moons. The first book is called CROW MOON, which is a YA/NA paranormal about a mixed race character who, after losing her father, finds herself trying to unravel the secrets of her estranged mother’s family. I’m about a third of the way through this and plan on self-publishing it by the end of the year. The blurb looks something like this at this point:
After Leni loses her father, she’s sent to live with her eccentric aunt out in the country. She wants to go to college and do what her father has always wanted her to, but the mysteries of her estranged mother’s family lead her to start unraveling the secrets long ago lost and hidden away. Will she be able to find out who she really is while living up to her father’s last wishes, or will the powers of the Crow Moon claim her for itself?
Cherie: Sounds interesting. J Now that we know about your book and you as a writer, I have some fun questions for you. Try to answer in five words or less:

Favorite color?

Secret crush? (It can be anyone real or fictional.)
Dean Winchester

Do you believe in love at first sight?
Most definitely!

Have you ever experienced that head-over-heels, tingly, have-to-get-to-know-someone feeling yourself?

Who are you drawn to the good guy or the bad guy?
Bad boys, bad boys… what ya gonna do?

What’s the first thing you notice about a guy?
sense of humor

If you had all the money and time in the world, where would your dream vacation be?
Greek islands.

Are you a morning person or an evening person?
Ha, evening, definitely

Favorite author?
Poe, Shakespear, George RR Martin, Joss Whedon, Steven Moffat. Dark emotions are my thing.

Favorite movie or television show?
Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones. Love American Horror Story and just getting into Penny Dreadful and really digging it too.

Guilty pleasures that get you through the writing/revising process?
Pictures of cool people and places on Pinterest. Sitting alone in my room with my lap top, still in bed with my dogs lying beside me. Chocolate. Wine. Modern alternative rock.

Favorite place to write?
In bed. LOL! It’s cozy.

Who is your mentor?
My RWA chapter members. They are amazingly talented and prolific. They educate and inspire me regularly.

What book are you the most excited to read?
The next in the Song of Ice and Fire series by George RR Martin

Are there any types of books you don’t read?
I have to have supernatural elements.

Thanks, Shawna, for being with us today!


Why me? I asked this question a lot, when I died, when I lived, when I’d lost my friends, when I’d hooked up with angels, when I was chased by demons, so it seemed trivial to ask it now, but why me? Why couldn’t I have a regular non-angel boyfriend to make out with and not worry about ruining, well, everything for everybody everywhere?
Snap out of it, Lily, I told myself. You have an amazing ability and super-hot— too hot— angel boyfriend, a blessed life that someone upstairs seems to think is valuable and worthy of protection. Quit feeling sorry for yourself and girl up.
“Right, girl up. I can do this,” I said aloud. My body was under control finally and I felt like I could go back to class as long as we got a new scene to work on. But I’d hurt Luc. I had to talk to him. I had to fix it and make it right. He was suffering with this as much as I was and probably more so since he had to have that pious-angel behavior and all.
I stood to go, pushing the vanity chair back as I did so.
“Lily!” someone whispered.
“What?” I turned to see if Cassie was there.
“Lily, look!” It was difficult to tell if it was a male or female voice since it was a whisper.
The voice was coming from behind me. I looked back around – that’s when I saw the surface of the mirror tremble, as though it were liquid. It rippled from the center. “Lilith!” The whisper came from the mirror.
Too late I remembered something Luc and Belle had said about mirrors. The surface splashed out toward me, and though I reflexively turned away and pulled back, the watery mirror grabbed me with its newly formed reflective arms and pulled me inside.

About the author:
Shawna Romkey, teacher by day, writer by night (or day or whenever anyone leaves her alone long enough to get some work done). Bestselling YA / NA paranormal author of Speak of the Devil. The second in the series, The Devil Made Me Do It, will release July 1.

Shawna is from Kansas City, Missouri, but resides in Nova Scotia in a house by the sea with her husband, two sons, and currently two dogs but that’s subject to change depending on the local homeless dog population.

For more info, check out her website at www.shawnaromkey.com.

Connect with Shawna Romkey:
Facebook  |  Twitter  | Pinterest  |  Goodreads 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

What if no one asks? #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.

My insecurity this month has to do with a blog post I need to write for Darkly Delicious YA, a group blog I'm a part of.  We have some fun new topics coming up, one of which is Dear Author Dearest. Think along the lines of Ms. Snark's advice column, only the authors of DDYA will take turns answering questions from writer. This is where my insecurity comes in. What if no one ask me a question?

I could really use your help. If you have a writer-ly question you'd like answered, I'd love to hear it. I'll select one or two for my post on July 11th. 

Even if you don't have a question, I'd love to know how you're doing with your insecurities, so leave a message so I can hop over to your blog.

Before I go, I thought I'd share this week's Paranormal TidbitT here. I'm posting these every Tuesday on my Facebook page, so hop over if you'd like to read more. 

Want to know if there are faeries living near you? You’ll need a stone that has a natural hole in it, one hollowed by a river or spring works best. Looking through the center will grant you faerie sight. But beware: faeries can be mischievous, vindictive, and evil. It’s best not to interact with them.

Know another way to see fairies? I'd love to hear it.