Thursday, June 28, 2012

How to Make a Book Trailer

What am I reading now?  Edenbrooke (Julianne Donaldson)

Annnd . . .  what do I think so far?  This is a fun and well written Regency romance. It fits the older YA market and adult readers as well.

Marianne's dilemma: Choose a suitor
Will it be...
A) Old, bald, bad breath, writes love "poems"
B) Good looking, not much else of substance
C) Gorgeous, built, rich, kind, athletic, honest, chivalrous, loyal, protective, charming, great dancer and equestrian, titled, surprising, heroic, sensitive, thoughtful, honor-bound, flirtatious, serious, gentle...

Don't buy this one in ebook. You are going to want the real book so the spine will bend in all the right places, then you can reread your favorite scenes in this story. (Reader's hint--read at least to page 20 before you decide if you'll read on. You'll thank me later.)

Here's the book trailer...

How to Make a Book Trailer

You're probably expecting me to give step by step directions that include words like html and java or flash.
All you really need to know is Copy, Paste, Click.

Sign up for Animoto for an easy (and free) book trailer experience at
Here's one I made for our new book "Damnation"

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Re-evaluating the Middle

What am I reading now? Temptation (Karen Ann Hopkins)

Annnd . . . what do I think so far? He's Amish; she's not.

Sometimes you're attracted to someone for no more than the reason that your heart tells you to love and your body agrees. Rose and Noah barely meet and are drawn together despite her family's objections and his church and community's control. They steal moments together, but fail to keep their relationship a secret.

There's a lot of tension between the main characters and the different worlds they come from. I couldn't decide (still can't) if I wanted them to be together, but I totally bought in that they want it. I could even see Noah's point of view that it could work for them is his world. If you're a fan of forbidden romances, this one is for you.

Middles are Hard to Write...Here's Why...

Just thinking about how to write the middle of stories without having them sag.

•The character's problem has to be examined or pushed on from multiple angles
•If it's a problem that's too small, there won't be enough to write about
•The character will incrementally change as a result of each examination
Painful realizations and ah-has abound
New and innovative ideas from the characters are necessary to make their plans and goal still work

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Connecting through Character Emotions

What am I reading now?



(both by Laural Oliver, Delirium books 1 & 2)

Annnd . . . what do I think so far?  What if love were a disease? And the person who infected you and yourself would be put to death for it--for the greater good of the nation. Good thing there's a cure so the American people will never have to deal with that epidemic again.

Unless some don't want to be cured!
Loving this series.

Connecting through Character Emotions

Deanna and I are going through our stories right now looking for opportunities to show the characters' emotions more. We've been accused (by beta readers) of needing more. (Yup--each book and all beta readers). We want our readers to love our characters as much as we do, so we have to write the characters in a way that readers will connect with them. So in the scenes I'm trying to:

•Identify and mark clearly in the text anytime the character experiences a big change, set back, ah-ha or twist. Ask and write about:
          - How are the character's view, motivation and well-being affected?
          - What fears does the situation present for them to overcome, or it creates?
          - How does this change what's at stake for the character?
          - What deeply held beliefs or desires does this bring up for reflection?
          - How does this change their relationships by adding drama and tension?

•Look at the novel as a whole and place sticky-notes on scenes that mark the step-by-step progress the protagonist is making toward their emotional transformation.

I read a book recently where this was the major problem. The story had a great concept, but the execution left me not caring about the protagonist. The protagonist didn't make incremental progress toward her transformation. In fact, three-quarters of the way into the story she seemed to be the same whiney, mean-spirited brat she was when she first met the hero. Then when some switch was flipped at the end of the book and she realized how to solve her problem, all I could think was that I was sorry for the guy and hoped he dumped her soon, 'cause his life will be hell, living with someone so cruel and anchored in past failures. Translation: emotional connection--epic fail.

Here's my take away. I can see it in the books I read when the readers are not emotionally tied to the main character, and it's easy to spot when they are. So, now I have to learn more objectivity about my own stories and find the fixes needed.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Raised by Wolves

What am I reading now?  Raised by Wolves (Jennifer Lynn Barnes)

Annnd . . . what do I think so far? Bryn is impulsive and passionate. She's a fighter and resilient. Not many things scare her but there are a lot of things that make her curious.
Ding, ding--that's the problem! Especially since she is being raised by the Alpha of the pack of werewolves.
No, she's not were, she's human. Bryn was orphaned when her parents where torn apart in front of her when she was 4 years old by a rabid werewolf. The weres who saved her raised her.
Bryn meets a boy who is being held in a cage by her pack. Chase was bit by a werewolf and now he's one too. But she feels a special (and forbidden--yeah that smacks her curiosity to attention) connection to him.

Finished the 2nd and 3rd to this set also. I feel shredded. The twists and intensity of this series compels you to keep reading while you are jerked through harrowing disasters--that's good and extremely bad!

When rating the third book, I took away a star for the ending. I prefer hope.  Read this if you can take the emotional drain. Not light reading, but a story that is very well told.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Cool Home Library

What am I reading now?  The Shapeshifter's Secret (Heather Ostler)

Annnd . . . what do I think so far?  Julia's father is watchful for her (read extremely overprotective). Her mother is a security threat and enemy (read psycho). She is caught in the middle of a war she didn't know existed for the first sixteen years of her life. How could people she doesn't even know what to kill her or would be willing to die protecting her?

Recommendation: This is a great book for teachers in grades 5-9 to put in their libraries for Young Adult Fantasy sections.

So, I really want this:

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Like-able Characters

What am I reading now?  The Selection (Kiera Cass)

Annnd . . . what do I think so far?  Not everyone wants to be royalty. America Singer doesn't want to be. Not interested. Not going to even try. There's a lottery that brings 35 girls together for the chance to win Prince Maxon's heart, crown and social cast (#1--royalty).

It seems like America would jump at that since she is in cast #5 and often doesn't have enough to eat or even stay warm. But she has her heart set on marrying Aspen Leger. He's in caste #6, hard labor, just steps away from being destitute or homeless.

What she wants changes when her name is drawn in the lottery and she is sent to a sort of "Bachelor Royalty-style" competition and reality tv show. Only in this game--the winner will marry the prince and everyone will have to live with that consequence.

Creating Like-able Characters

You can tell by my past few blogposts that I'm working on the underpinnings of a new novel. Now that I know a little about my characters (see post on June 8th), how to make them strong ( May 15th), possible conflicts to escalate in the plot (May 29th) and the overall story and scene questions  to tackle (May 22nd), I'm ready to dig a little deeper. 

I'm going back to character development today--how to make the main character like-able. Here are just some possible ways:
Make the character someone the reader can identify with by having similar background, values or lifestyle
Make the character have a worthy goal or just trying to do the right thing
Give her/him abilities or talents we can admire
Put them in a situation that seems threatening or unfair
Have them interact with someone who loves them, we'll love them by association
They're nice
They've experienced a tragedy and we empathize with how they are trying to pull it all back together
The character is taking charge of things, not waiting around for someone else to solve the problems

No, I don't think our characters must be like-able at all times, but enough that the reader is willing to read on and is interested in knowing what happens to them.

Thought of the Day:

Friday, June 8, 2012

Becoming BFFs with your Characters

What am I reading now?  The Girl in the Clockwork Collar (Kady Cross, Steampunk Chronicles #2)
Annnd . . . what do I think so far?  I read the ebook called The Strange Case of Findley Jane last October and loved it. I didn’t know at the time that it would have other companion books. While cruising around a website for galleys I saw this story, of course that meant I had to read The Girl in the Steel Corset (Steampunk Chronicles #1) and loved it--5 stars! Then I read this one. 5 stars again! 
The author wanted the book to be a “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen meets teen X-Men.” Oh yeah! She did it. Great steampunk setting and a full cast of strong main and supporting characters. Any one of the characters could carry a story—they’re all interesting and I have a ton of questions about each. Hopefully the series will last a long time so we can get to know each of them and their stories.
            Findley is a sixteen-year-old girl, demon, girl, demon. Depends on the day. You’d think that would make her a less-than-likeable character, but it doesn’t. I’ve enjoyed all three related books by this author.

Becoming BFFs with your Characters
This doesn't mean you are going to go easy on them. Or that you want everything in their "lives" to be fine. Or even that you want them to be happy.
This does mean that you know them. How they'll respond. What choices they will make and why. It also means that you can answer these questions* about each of them (main characters and supporting characters):

  • What is the character's name?
  • Write a one-sentence summary of the storyline for this character. 
  • Example: (age, gender, defining role in life) who (describe the conflicting circumstance) and wants ______________ but instead is _______________.
  • What is this character's motivation (what does he/she want abstractly?)
  • What is this character's goal (what does he/she want concretely?)
  • What is the character's conflict (what prevents him/her from reaching this goal?)
  • The character's epiphany (what will he/she learn, how will he/she change?
  • Write a one-paragraph summary of the character's storyline.

Getting to know your characters is perhaps the most important part of writing your novel. If there are places where scenes are flat, or the middle sags, or there is general slow motion, it may be because the story doesn't show enough about each character to develop them fully for the reader. The reader just isn't interested in what they do or say.

*I believe the origination of these questions is from the Snowflake Method for writing novels.

Quote for the day:

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Hello Summer!

What am I reading now?  Tempest Unleashed (Tracy Deebs)

Annnd . . . what do I think so far? This is a fun series! This is the second book in the Tempest series and it comes out TODAY-- June 5, 2012. So if you haven't read the first book, get it, read it and buy the second. You'll thank me later!

I've enjoyed getting to know Tempest Maguire. At 17, she's had to make some tough choices that she never thought she'd make. She chose to become a mermaid. She chose to live with her mother's clan. She chose Kona over Mark. But when the sea witch, Tiamat, threatens her and her family she has to make another choice of life and death. I was disappointed by the crap she put up with from the Queen, but maybe at 17 she doesn't know how to stand up to that yet. I liked her friend, Mahina. I hope we see more of her in the next book.

I loved the adventure, conflict and struggle Tempest has to combat, and the magic she is learning to control. This book, like the first, is beautiful in the writing and the emotion. The love triangle keeps you guessing, or gasping. Because seriously? That's who she ends up with?  But there's always book #3...

Minty-Strawberry Limeade

In blender:
6 cups strawberries
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves (loose)
1 cup fresh squeezed lime juice (about 10-12 limes)
1/4 cup agave nectar
Blend until smooth.

In punch bowl:
strawberry puree
2-liters diet 7-up
2-liters club soda

Sit in the shade and enjoy the day.

--serves 12