My New Project: Korinna

I am so excited about this new book that I am writing and I feel like it’s really coming together. I am so close to publishing Small Town Witch, so I haven’t forgotten about that and I will be doing a lot more work on that very soon to give everyone some excitement for the new release, but right now I just want to let you all now about my newest project and how well it’s going.

I don’t have a title yet, because I am horrible at naming stories. I usually use just the name of the main character as short hand for the story until well into the first draft or even during revision. This book’s main character is Korinna, and since she’s probably going to fill up at least three books, I’ve labeled the project “Korinna Book 1”. Here is the plot in a sentence:

The illegitimate daughter of the murdered duke must capture and tame a dangerous monster in order to take control of the city away from the greedy council before the curse that killed her father destroys them all.

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My eBook Reader: My Best Friend

I have always been an avid reader. Once upon a time, that meant carrying a bag full of books with me everywhere I went: usually one set of books for school, at least one book of fiction, and at least one other nonfiction book for non-school-related research. A heavy backpack or messenger bag went with me everywhere. Sometimes people, including my friends, would make fun of me for that: “Why do you have your big bag with all of your books? You don’t have school today.”

Riding the bus everywhere played a big part in why I always carried a large bag (I think that most people take for granted how much stuff they always have with them in their car), but I also just wanted to take my books with me. Even if I only had a few minutes to read while I was sitting and waiting for someone else to show up, or be seated at a restaurant, I liked having my books there. And I couldn’t pick just one book to bring with me, even knowing that I would not read every single one of them on a given day: I wanted the flexibility to choose what I wanted to read in the moment. (more…)

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My Top Ten YA Books (When I Was a Teen)

One of the biggest buzzes in the book world right now is NPR’s latest top-100 list of books. They are compiling a list of the best-ever teen/YA novels, and asking everyone to vote for their favorites. There are 235 finalists, and your challenge is to pick only 10 of them. (To make it a little easier, an entire series like Harry Potter or The Song of the Lioness count as only one vote.)

While I was struggling to get through the list, which has a lot of awesome books on it, I had to think about not only which books I was going to choose, but also why. Which books did I read again and again? Which books changed the way that I saw the world or inspired me to be a different person? Which books are still sitting on my bookshelf, a little worn with time and love, because I dragged them with me through numerous moves and clutter purges? (Some of my books are still in boxes, because a house full of book-lovers will never have enough shelves to support all of our reading habits.)

All of these books were ones that I read as a young teen (maybe a little younger; by the time I was fourteen, I was reading mostly adult stories). There are some YA novels that I’ve read and loved as a grown-up, because I’ve never stopped reading YA, but those don’t make the list. Not all of these are ones that I could vote for on NPR’s list, either. This list is also going to show my age a little (since books like The Hunger Games did not exist when I was a teen), especially since most of them are older books. (I got books from the library, not the New Releases at the bookstore.) (more…)

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Using Critiques Effectively

Receiving critiques and knowing what to do with them is hard. As a writer, you need to get people to read your stories and give you a perspective other than your own. Fresh eyes can tell you so much about a story: is the picture in your head actually coming through on the page? Have you left out important pieces, needlessly repeated yourself, or gone off on a tangent that just doesn’t make sense? A reader can tell you all of this and give you suggestions for improving your work that you may never be able to think of on your own. People who are willing to read your work-in-progress and give you feedback about it are an invaluable resource, whether you pay them or they volunteer their time.

But how do you decide what to do with those critiques once you’ve received them? That is the challenge. Sometimes people may not understand your work, or it’s not really their type of story, or they may have suggestions that you just don’t agree with. This is complicated when you are getting feedback from multiple people, who can often contradict one another. “More description!” says one person. “The prose drones on without any plot!” says another. How do you maneuver through the myriad responses and try to find the elements that will actually help you improve your writing?

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