Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Creative Binge

I've been working so hard on not-fun-projects (i.e. freelance work, volunteer work, housework, work work -- notice a theme here?) that finding myself with some free time has been...freeing. I have time to write again, and edit. All the pent up ideas are finding their way onto the page. At last.

So that's what I'll be doing for the next few weeks -- bingeing on words. Mine.


How do you plan to spend your first few weeks of summer?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Getting Mindjacked with Susan Quinn

Susan Quinn is one of the hardest working writers I know. She's frightfully organized, incredibly generous and often quite lucky. And did I mention talented? And super nice?

Today I'm proud to be part of the virtual party celebrating the release of the second book in her Mindjack trilogy. I've been lucky enough to be one of the beta readers for both books in this series and let me just say they are more than worth the $2.99 Ebook price.

But don't just take my word for it. Read a sample.

Book Two of the Mindjack Trilogy

When you control minds, only your heart can be used against you.

Eight months ago, Kira Moore revealed to the mindreading world that mindjackers like herself were hidden in their midst. Now she wonders if telling the truth was the right choice after all. 

As wild rumors spread, a powerful anti-jacker politician capitalizes on mindreaders’ fears and strips jackers of their rights. While some jackers flee to Jackertown—a slum rife with jackworkers who trade mind control favors for cash—Kira and her family hide from the readers who fear her and jackers who hate her. But when a jacker Clan member makes Kira’s boyfriend Raf collapse in her arms, Kira is forced to save the people she loves by facing the thing she fears most: FBI agent Kestrel and his experimental torture chamber for jackers.

Now available! $2.99 Ebook 
at Amazon (and Amazon UK) and Barnes and Noble

Request a Kindlegraph Paper copies available at Amazon or get signed copies from the author
Susan Kaye Quinn is the author of the bestselling YA novel Open Minds,  Book One of the Mindjack Trilogy, available on AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iTunes. Susan's business card says "Author and Rocket Scientist," but she mostly plays on TwitterFacebook, and Pinterest.

Mind GamesOpen MindsClosed HeartsIn His EyesLife, Liberty, and PursuitFull Speed Ahead

CLICK HERE to join the Virtual Party for Closed Hearts
(including bonus content for the Mindjack Trilogy and writerly guest posts) 
ENTER TO WIN prizes below
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Must Read Title: The False Prince

One of the downsides to reading as much as I do: it's really hard to impress me. I used to feel obligated to finish a book once I started it. Not anymore. There are too many other books worthy of my attention to force myself to finish reading something that doesn't capture me.

THE FALSE PRINCE captured me from page one. Honestly, this book is freaking brilliant.

Sage is one of the best characters ever. Fighting everyone and everything, for reasons that aren't always clear at first to the reader, Sage is complex and funny and wonderfully developed. Whether brave or stupid, watching him grow into a role that he SO doesn't want was an absolute thrill of a ride. I literally did not want to put this book down until I got to the last page.

While technically I didn't care for the info dump in Chapters 42-43, at that point it didn't matter. I was in love with the characters, in love with the book and eagerly anticipating the climactic scenes ahead. As soon as I finished reading (okay, I went back and reread some of the juicy parts!) I handed this one to my 12yo and told him he had to read it. He devoured it and wanted more.

And therein lies the downside: it's the first in a trilogy. We have to wait another year to read the next one.

This will definitely be a read-aloud on this summer's road trip. It's one of those books that has enough depth to intrigue adults, will appeal to male or female and doesn't have objectionable material for younger readers. Yeah, it's the perfect book.

Wish I had written it myself :)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Chasing the Elusive Idea

I've been to a lot of author talks and regardless of the audience, the inevitable question always comes up: Where do you get your ideas from?

Even if the author is gracious enough to avoid the eye roll, I'm not. (Guess I'll need to work on that before I get published!)

The question doesn't annoy me just because everybody asks it. The truth is, most writers can't pinpoint a specific time or place where an idea comes from. At least I can't. Every book tends to come from a different spark. There isn't some magic box under the bed that writers pull ideas from. (If you have one, please share. I'm willing to split royalties.)

As I worked on edits for a book that I'm not ready to give up on yet, a new idea came to me, an idea that would add depth to the character and offer him an impossible choice. I have no clue where the idea came from. Unfortunately, I also have no clue as to how I'm going to incorporate this brilliant plot point. So I turn it over in my head and pray to whatever deity impressed the idea on me in the first place, to follow up with the second half of the equation because the drivel I've been typing out just isn't cutting it.

I guess that's the persistence part of this writing journey. Even if it's drivel, I keep typing, keep writing until it makes sense. At this point, I'm still willing to believe that if I keep at it, I'll figure it out. Eventually.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Writer's Day L.A.

Last weekend I got a dose of inspiration when I attended the L.A. Writer's Days. The two regional advisors, Sarah Laurenson and Lee Wind, put together an exceptional group of presenters. And I got to meet fellow blogger Tricia O'Brien. Bonus! I'm so glad I got to go.

One of my favorite Santa Barbara writers, Lee Wardlaw, talked about the fact that her most recent book, Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku, was rejected by seven editors over three years. That book, which my daughter proudly owns, is now in its fourth printing and has won scads of awards including the 2012 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award and the 2011 SLJ Best Books of the Year. Lee said something that resonated with me:

"I'm thankful for all those rejections. Because those editors wouldn't have loved it enough to see it through acquisition meetings, marketing, finding the right illustrator... If it hadn't been rejected, it wouldn't have become the book that it is."

Photo of Stacey, Michael & Sara by Rita Crayon Huang
Agent Michael Bourret spoke on a panel with editor Stacey Barney (Putnam/Penguin) and debut author Sara Wilson Etienne. The synergy between the three of them was beautiful to witness and I kid you not -- as soon as their panel finished talking, all of Sara's books were gone within a matter of minutes. They were that good.

I could write several posts just based on the things they talked about, but here's one thing that really stuck with me. Sara wrote the first draft of her book, Harbinger, ten years ago. There was no dialogue, only one character and the entire novel was about 90 pages long. She didn't know what to do with it so she put it away for a few years. She worked on it some more, took it to an SCBWI conference and got good feedback on it from an editor there. She worked on it for almost two more years before sending it to Michael Bourret. And then, when he took it on, they revised it together for another year.

I can't even begin to tell you how much this encouraged me. I am a SLOW writer. I get impatient with myself, frustrated because I can't whip out a novel in six months, let alone in the month of November. Some edits are easy. Others have to go round my brain for a while before they solidify. Knowing that there are other slow pokes like me who take their time and still manage to make their debut and make it big, was incredibly inspiring.

People ask me all the time if I think it's worth the money to go to a conference. When you come away inspired to keep at it, excited to lock yourself away and sit in front of a glowing screen, I'd say it's definitely worth it.
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