Thursday, June 28, 2012

Tips and Links with Myra McEntire, author of TIMEPIECE

I'm pleased to welcome GCC sister Myra McEntire to the blog this week, celebrating the release of her new book, TIMEPIECE. Myra knows the words to every R&B hit of the last decade, but since she lives in Nashville, the country music capital of America, her lyrical talents go sadly unappreciated. She's chosen, instead, to channel her "mad word skills" into creating stories. She's an avid Doctor Who fan and will argue passionately about which incarnation is the best.  (Linda's note... it's #10 David Tennant, right?) : )


Kaleb Ballard was never supposed to be able to see ripples—cracks in time. Are Kaleb’s powers expanding, or is something very wrong? Before Kaleb can find out, Jonathan Landers, the man who tried to murder his father, reappears. Why is he back, and what, or whom, does he want?
In the wake of Landers’s return, the Hourglass organization is offered an ultimatum by a mysterious man. Either they find Landers and the research he has stolen on people who might carry the time gene, or time will be altered—with devastating results for the people Kaleb loves most.
Now Kaleb, Emerson, Michael, and the other Hourglass recruits have no choice but to use their extraordinary powers to find Landers. But where do they even start? And when? Even if they succeed, just finding him may not be enough. . . .
The follow-up to Hourglass, Timepiece blends the paranormal, science-fiction, mystery, and suspense genres into a nonstop thrill ride where every second counts.

You can find Myra online on her website and on twitter.

Myra's Tip:
Writing the first draft of TIMEPIECE almost broke me. I couldn’t make it happen the way I wanted it to, so I was pushing my deadline like crazy. I would hole up in my room and do nothing but stare at the computer for hours.
I learned that you can’t make stories if you don’t live life. I learned that when nothing is coming, nothing at ALL, you might need to walk away for a bit.
I learned about BALANCE. 

This Week's Writing Links:

The winning continues at the LIGHTS, CAMERA, CASSIDY Charmed Summer Giveaway! Please feel free to share the link with any MG girls you might know!

Writer'sButt Wednesday: Getting Down with Fish Oil (Ginger Calem)

50 Iconic Writers Who Were Repeatedly Rejected (OnlineCollege)

15 Grammar Goofs That Make You Look Silly (Copyblogger)

5 Story Mistakes Even Good Writers Make (Writer's Digest)

3 Tips for Writing Heavy Emotional Scenes (Jamie Gold)

3 Myths About Villains (QueryTracker)

MediaBistro's Blackmail Writing App (MediaBistro) Love it!

Who Publishes YA? A Breakdown of the Big Six (The YA Curator)

Break the Rules of Writing to Get Inspired (WritersDigest)

Putting Your Writing First (Adventures in YA and Children's Publishing)

Is Your Modifier Dangling? (PocketFullOfCharms)

Taking the Mystery Out of Query Letters (Rachelle Gardener)

The Rules of Storytelling Pixar Style (WritersDigest)

On Staying Open to Inspiration (BeyondTheMargins)

Adjective Advice (GailCarsonLevine)

Writing Lessons Learned from MATCHED (Julie Musil)

How Agents Choose the Best Publishers to Submit to (Rachelle Gardner)

When your MC Changes her Mind (

Who Publishes YA? A breakdown (The YA Curator)

How to Tackle Critique Notes (Writer Unboxed)

Comics for SCBWI Conference Newbies (InkyElbows) : )

Performing the Invasive Edit (MagicalWords)

Middling Beauty (BeyondtheMargins)

The Trips and Traps of 1st Person (Omnivoracious)

What Makes Bad Writing (WallStreetJournal)

Character Block (Gail Carson Levine)

How Writing the Query Helped Me Finish the Novel (BeyondTheMargins)

Authenticity of Voice (MagicalWords)

The Rules for Suspense Writing (Writer's Digest)

Sell it to Me (QueryTracker)

Now go find your balance and write!

P.S. I have no idea how come parts of my blog are highlighted in white and the rest of it is black. If anyone knows how to avoid this, please let me know. I should be writing, so I haven't the time to figure it out!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

What Makes it MG with Amanda Ashby

I'm happy to welcome my friend and TFC and GCC sister Amanda Ashby to the blog, celebrating the release of her new MG series, SOPHIE'S MIXED-UP MAGIC. You might know Amanda as the author of YOU HAD ME AT HALO, FAIRY BAD DAY, and ZOMBIE QUEEN OF NEWBURY HIGH. Her books have been nominated for Romantic Times Reviewer's Choice award, New York Library's Stuff for the Teen Age, and selected as Voya's Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers. She's also a SCBWI Crystal Kite Finalist for the Australia/NZ region.

She lives and writes on the Sunshine coast, where she also likes to eat chocolate, watch TV, and sit around doing not much. (Her words, not mine. Personally, I don't believe the not do much bit. I've read her books. She's doing. Plus she's got two kids, so not doing much isn't even an option!) 

Anyway, here's the lowdown on her new series:

Book One: Wishful Thinking 
Be careful what you wish for…
After eleven year old Sophie accidentally gets herself turned into a djinn, she starts to think that it might not be so bad after all. (Of course, that’s after she gets the whole orange skin problem sorted out.) Who wouldn’t enjoy having the power to grant wishes! But when Sophie develops RWD (Random Wish Disorder) and can’t STOP granting wishes, things get more than a little mixed-up!
Book Two: Under a Spell (May 31st Puffin)
And that spells T-R-O-U-B-L-E…
As Sophie gets used to her magic, her relationship with the adorable Jonathan Tait is blossoming. There’s only one problem: Jonathan’s twin sister, Melissa. She’s a total mean girl who seems intent on making Sophie’s life miserable. On top of that, Melissa somehow seems to sense that Sophie has powers–and manages to bind Sophie to her in a totally self-serving way. Can Sophie figure out a way out of this–without ruining her chances with Jonathan?
Amanda's Writing Tip:

"When I started writing this middle grade series, I read somewhere that the difference between YA and MG is that while MG characters do have cellphones, they still need to ask permission to go to the mall. That advice really resonated with me and helped me out so much when I was writing Sophie's Mixed-up Magic. In fact, I used it when her djinn guide tried to tell her that they needed to fly to Istanbul to get the secret cure she needed!"

You can find more about Amanda's books and stalk follow her online on her website, on twitter, on facebook, and on goodreads.

This week's link roundup:

LIGHTS CAMERA CASSIDY Charmed Summer Giveaway (LightsCameraCassidy)

A Checkup from the Neck Up (Ginger Calem)

1,000 Words A Day Or Else! (Arthur Slade)

7 Strategy Tips from the World of Screenwriting (Big Spaceship)

5 Things that Turn Agents Off in Chapter One (Words I stole)

5 Reasons Your Current Scene Isn't Working (Great Minds Ink Alike)

5 Techniques for Adding Subtext to Your Stories (The Bookshelf Muse)

3 Writing Exercises in Search of Character (Jungle Red Writers)

2 Questions That Will Stunt a Writer's Progress (Christie Craig)

Ursula LeGuin's Hypothesis (Book View Cafe)

The Need for Speed (Is it advisable?) (Nephele Tempest)

Your Punctuation Personality Type (Brian Thomas Schmidt) Made me laugh.

How Writing is Like a First Date (Novel Rocket)

The First Basic Question (Genreality)

Remaining True to Your Vision (Write it Sideways)

There Are Two Kinds of "Busy". Is Yours the Good Kind? (Jane Friedman)

What Inspires Sarah Zarr (Distraction No. 99)

Using Setting as a Character (Rachelle Gardner)

Making the Most of a Scene (Jamie Gold)

Layering Emotion (

Fight Scenes: The Waltz of Death (Fiction Notes)

What Makes a Children's Book Great? (Publishing Perspectives)

Write a Killer Query Letter for Your YA Manuscript (WriteWorkshop)

The Ultimate Guide to Pitch Writing (Jamie Gold)

Now go. Write!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

ETERNAL SPRING with Jennifer McAndrews, plus links

We have a very special guest this week. My own dear friend, crit partner, and workshop co-presenter, Jennifer McAndrews, is joining us today to celebrate the release of ETERNAL SPRING, a young adult anthology available as a free  kindle download from Amazon. Jen's one of my favorite writers ever. You can find out why by picking up her latest novel, DEADLY FARCE is a humorous mystery from Avalon Books, and by checking out her contribution in ETERNAL SPRING.


Flowers, vacation, baseball, prom...what does spring mean to you? From unicorn hunters and teenage exorcists to Egyptian princesses and aspiring ballerinas, this collection of thirteen stories by some of the most exciting authors in Young Adult fiction explores young love and new beginnings during the most beautiful time of the year.

You can catch Jen at RWA Nationals next month, presenting on the Hero's Journey in YA (with yours truly), and you can find her online on her website, on twitter, on facebook, on pinterest, and at Honestly YA.

Jen's Tip:

It’s a standing joke, the actor asking “But…what’s my motivation?” As clichĂ© as it sounds, in fact it’s a very important question to ask, not only for actors but for writers. It is critical for both to identify and understand the motivation of a given character. For an actor, it’s the character he or she is portraying; for the writer, it’s every major character in the story. Yup, every major character.
For a minor character, there’s no need to move beyond a “simple” motivation. To say the minor character mows the lawn for the elderly couple on the corner because that character is kindhearted is sufficient. If, however, we’re talking about a main character, a major character, kindhearted is only the surface. For the main character, dig a little deeper. Why is kindness important? What need does the character have that showing kindness fulfills?

Let’s say he or she does kind things because failure to consider others’ needs during childhood resulted in a scolding from Mom. One step deeper? That scolding from Mom resulted in feelings of guilt and inadequacy. So acts of kindness today may be motivated by fear of inadequacy.
On the flip side, what if the character does kind things because doing good deeds during childhood resulted in praise from Mom. One step deeper? That praise from Mom resulted in a feeling of happiness and security. So acts of kindness today may be motivated by a desire for happiness.
Either way, now you know that main character’s core motivation. That motivation is going to define that character, in easy situations and in tough ones. You’ll know how a character is going to react because you know that motivation.

And for extra fun, next time someone pretends to be a “suffering actor” by whining “but… what’s my motivation?”, answer them! (hint: tell them it’s fear. that stops ‘em every time!)

This week's link roundup:

My latest, LIGHTS, CAMERA, CASSIDY Episode Three: HACKED, hits the shelves tomorrow, June 14, 20012.  Please join me for a Lights, Camera, Cassidy Charmed Summer Giveaway (starting tomorrow) to celebrate. You could win stuff.  Bonus points for sharing the love (and the link).

21 Ways to Make Your Plot More Compelling (Writing at High Altitude)
10 Quick Tips to Better Fiction (WG2E)
6 Reasons Editors Will Reject You (Writer's Digest)
5 Ways Writers Get Lazy (Jody Hedlund)
5 Ways Adult Heroes Differ From Their YA Counterparts (Romancing the Naked Hero) : )
5 Super Villain Schemes so Crazy They Might be... Crazy (
3 Tips for Staying Focused (Writing on the Ether)
3 Important Rules for Writing Endings (The Write Practice)
How to Influence Editors (Rachelle Gardner)
The Good Seed (Writer Unboxed) Part III of Donald Maass's series
Different Ways to See the Same Thing (Paranormal POV)
The Sound of Silence (Write Brained)
Fill In the Blanks Plot Template (The Other Side of the Story)
How to Plot By the Numbers (WordServe Water Cooler)
Hard Word and Getting Lucky (Writer Unboxed)
Climbing Mt. Revision One Step At a Time (Story a Day) Revising Short Stories.
Detailing (Gail Carson Levine)
What Teens Are Really Reading (School Library Journal) One librarian's survey.
Worrying Isn't Action (
What Makes a Real Book (Content or Container)? (Chicago Tribune)
Tips for Effective Dialog (Writers on the Storm)
Let's Try That Again (Bent on Books)
Literary Devices: Allusion (Fantasy Faction)
Secrets to Character (Jungle Red Writers)
Conflict in Story is Like Finding Gold (Moody Writer)
Don't Leave Me Hanging (Romance University) Happy Endings in Romance.
Romance Structure and Romantic Moments (Genreality)
Easy Ways to Keep the Reader Interested (Moody Writing)
The Single Most Important Characteristic for Success (Writing on the Ether)

Now  go. Write!

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Surrender by Elana Johnson, plus Link Roundup

I'm pleased to welcome GCC and Storymaker sister Elana Johnson to the blog this week. Elana's the author of POSSESSION and REGRET, and is celebrating the release of her latest book, SURRENDER. You might also know Elana from around the web, as she's a founder of the QueryTracker blog and co-organized WriteOnCon (which, if it isn't already on your radar for August, most definitely should be. Free writing conference. Online. Fabulous.)  Elana has also written the ebook FROM THE QUERY TO THE CALL (which you can actually download free here). In short, Elana keeps herself busy!

When she's not running the online writing universe, Elana wishes she could experience her first kiss again, tell the mean girl where to shove it, and have cool superpowers like reading minds and controlling fire. To fulfill her desires, she writes young adult science fiction and fantasy... like SURRENDER.

The Book:

Raine has always been a good girl. She lives by the rules in Freedom. After all, they are her father's rules: He's the Director. It's because of him that Raine is willing to use her talent--a power so dangerous, no one else is allowed to know about it. Not even her roommate, Vi.

All that changes when Raine falls for Gunner. Raine's got every reason in the world to stay away from Gunn, but she just can't. Especially when she discovers his connection to Vi's boyfriend, Zenn.

Raine has never known anyone as heavily brainwashed as Vi. Raine's father expects her to spy on Vi and report back to him. But Raine is beginning to wonder what Vi knows that her father is so anxious to keep hidden, and what might happen if she helps Vi remember it. She's even starting to suspect Vi's secrets might involve Freedom's newest prisoner, the rebel Jag Barque...

Elana's Tip:

I think every author owes it to themselves to find out the way they work best. With SURRENDER, my agent asked me for an outline before I wrote the book. It took me three months to write the outline (20 pages), because I hate outlining, and I'd never done it before.

I then wrote the book in 25 days. So it was easier and faster to write 350 pages! BUT. But I learned I can outline, that I do like knowing a little bit in advance the things that are coming in the story, that outlining isn't of the devil. Well... Ha!

You can find Elana online at her website, on her blog, on twitter, on facebook, and blogging with The League of Extraordinary Writers.

Bonus! Elana is hosting a Spectacular Seconds GIVEAWAY this week! You can enter to win one of five signed sophomore books by Beth Revis, Ally Condie, Veronica Roth, Kristi Cook and Kim Harrington. Details here: Spectacular Seconds Contest.

This week's link roundup:

12 Style Blunders in Fiction (Mystery Writing is Murder)

10 Great Tips from 10 Great Writers (Looking for Mr. Goodstory)

8 Things You Might Not Know About the NYT Bestseller Lists (YA Highway)

5 Ways to Explore Your Story (Revision) (Fiction Notes)

5 Top Mistakes Writers Make at a Crime Scene (Novel Rocket)

5 Ways to Connect With Other Writers (Creative Penn)

4 Temperaments (Characters) (My First Book)

4 Tips for Writing a Middle Grade Novel (Karen Cioffi)

3 Things Writers Should Look For in a Smart Phone (Procrastinating Writers)

Rhythm and Pattern in Picture Books (The Other Side of the Story)

Converting Backstory into Character (Romance University)

Untraditional Story Outlining Techniques (DIY MFA) (Love the Hunger Games subway map.)

When the Best Writing Happens (I.N.K.)

Why Write Fiction? Why Even Read It? (Beyond the Margins)

Surprises in Stories (Gail Carson Levine)

Unmasking the Muse (Writer Unboxed)

How to Get a Book Deal When You Suck at Pitching (MuseInks)

What Writers Can Learn From Barry Eisler (The Book Deal)

Why Daydreaming Isn't a Waste of Time (MindShift)

Why Self-Conscious Writers are Doomed (Wordplay)

Words to Live By (Genreality)

Writing About Painful Memories (Julie Musil)

Now go have a fantastic day. And write!