Saturday, December 12, 2015

This Just In ...

This just in ... I stink!  At blogging!

My new year's resolution will be to get better--because really how much worse can I get!?!

In my defense, I have been writing, and reading, and writing, and reading. Just not on this blog.

Which deeply shames me.

Well, maybe not deeply but pretty deep, fairly deep. I'm bothered by it.  Let's put it this way ... every time I remembered that I forgot to blog, I was disappointed in myself.

In my defense, I have had nothing new or exciting to share. You have missed nothing in my life or my career.  I can assure you of that with a small tear in my eye.

But, a new year is around the corner.  I can almost see it from here, and I'm hoping to have many wonderful things to announce in 2016, whatever it may bring!

 If I were to make a wish list of what those wonderful things should be, it would look like this:

Healed of all illnesses
An elf to edit my novels
Another to do the laundry
One who can cook allergy friendly food for the family
The new HGTV dream home
More time with hubby, who travels a lot these days
My kids to learn how to clean their rooms
All missing socks found
That camera we lost in 6 yrs ago with unuploaded pics of the kids
And if we're going there, I'd like my laptops with years of work (books and story ideas) that were stolen back, as well as all the precious momentums we lost
One night with all the family (Dad, grandma, grandparents) I lost before the boys were born so they can meet my best creations
Oh hell, lets throw in world peace
An amazing new Prez
A cure for ALL diseases
And, yeah, well, basically heaven on earth

Too much ...?

I may have gotten a little carried away.

In my defense, I have a cold and, as I said, I stink at this.

Till next year ...










Friday, August 14, 2015

SUMMER? WHAT SUMMER?

Summer came and went and I had little to say about it on this blog. 

I meant to, thought about it a lot, those thoughts just never made it to the keyboard. That's not to say I wasn't typing away, working on my other projects. 

I spent the first two months of summer on revisions--in between mother duties and vacations--for a book I'd hoped to sub at the end of the month. 

Then I took some time to read for fun. Oh, how fun it was! All that reading helped me explore a new angle on a novel that after multiple submissions with editors needed another thorough revision. 




I used to fear that word. Revision. I'd react with chills like the hyena's do in the Lion King when Scar says Mufasa's name. 




Yep. That clip sums it up perfectly. 

Now, I look forward to them. Sometimes. Mostly. I know they improve the book and is where the magic happens. I'm better with fashion so indulge me here. 

The draft is like the outfit: dress, jeans and top, suit, pants suit if you're daring. 



Anyway, the dress is the draft. It's there, but it needs work. Maybe some alterations, definitely some jewelry, and shoes. A super sexy hurt-your-feet-like-hell-but-you-don't-care-because-they're-amazeballs pair of shoes. 


And if you're rocking a dress with these killer heels, you have to do your hair and makeup or you'll look half done. Not ready.

That's what revisions do for a book. They clean it up, fix any bad or wrong spots, make sure everything goes or flows, and polishes the outfit. When you've added all you can, removed what wasn't necessary, switched out a few things, and have done everything you can to make your outfit--manuscript--look fabulous or damn close, then and only then do you go out (submit your work).

What I've learned over the last year is something you also experience when going out in that perfect outfit that you spent hours, days, months, years, working on. Not everyone is going to like it. 




Some people will think your polished outfit is ugly, or slutty, or horrific, or a fashion faux pas. But some people, maybe one important person, will think it's adorable, sexy on wheels, the best most amazing outfit they've ever seen, and they want one for themselves. Or they want to know you or know how you came up with it. That is the person who will hopefully help get that outfit (manuscript) into the stores, or bookshelves. That is the person who's going to inspire you to keep going, to do more, to do better. 

What no one tells you is that person might have to be yourself. And that's okay because . . . 


Sometimes you have to put on what you like and wear it with pride, knowing it fits you, was done your way, to your liking, and that's all that matters. 

The best part is you've got options! 




Today there are so many options sometimes it's hard to decide which is best for you, but that's a whole different outfit story. 


I guess my point is, never lose sight of YOUR dream. Even if that dream goes in a place you never imagined or you kind of lose your way, it's still YOUR dream. And remember ...



Finding the right path can take time. It can also take patience, rolls of Tums, bottles of wine, tears, heartbreak, skinny and fat moments. I'm-not-good-enough moments. Or the typical, I want to rent a boat just so I can throw my laptop over the side while it's on fire and toast "Here's to not being controlled by you anymore" moment.



Hopefully, you learn something from each of these moments, even if it's not to repeat them ever. Then you try to find your path again. Whether it's new, different, or similar, it's still YOUR path. Your future. Your goal. Your life. 

Make it your own, no matter how scary or daring! 


Or do nothing. That's always an option. 








Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Where do YOU like to read or write?

Is there anything more fun than taking a picture of yourself doing something you love?

Okay, so maybe eating yummy sweets and going to Disney World are right up there. Or doing both at the same time.



Not a Disney fan you say? How about taking a pic of yourself reading or writing in the Maldives Islands?


Sorry, I am NOT giving away a vacation like that. If I had one, I'd have to keep it for me-little-self. I am however offering you a chance to win a mondo giveaway and to participate in something fun!

I've recently teamed up with the YA Chicks (Amy Christine Parker, Christina Farley, and Vivi Barnes), Peggy Jackson, and Lucienne Diver in a reading and writing campaign.    

It's easy, fun, and you get the chance to win big!

All you have to do is go to the YA Chicks website--http://yachicks.blogspot.com/p/read-or-write-anywhere.html--and enter. Once you do, the fun begins!  You get to take a picture of yourself, or you and friends reading or writing (whichever is your poison) ANYWHERE!  And that means anywhere!

While a pic of you reading on the moon would be out of this world!


A pic of you in your backyard would work too.


Or you with flowers


Or by a tree


Or near a fountain


Or when stretching


With a gargoyle works too


There are so many places for you


Like in a Test Track car


Or on some stairs


In sombreros


Or ANYWHERES
 



Whether you're proud and bold, or humble and old we want to see where you read or write!!!!
Get your camera and help promote reading and writing! When you post it on twitter don't forget the hashtag
#ReadorWriteAnywhere

Can't wait to see your pics!!!  Now hurry and get over to the YA CHICKS site before it's over!!!!






Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Agent Query Advice. (AKA GOLD!)

Querying is something all authors face when trying to get an agent. Who better to get advice from than the source?


Agent/author Lucienne Diver gives insight on finding an agent, what an agent does, and how to write a successful query. Her advice is worth studying!

You can find her information here:


Never give up on your dream!

Also, you might have noticed via twitter, Instagram, and FB that I am working on something big with the authors at YA Chicks.  It's going to be super fun for all! I can't wait to reveal the plans so you can participate! You won't regret it!

Stay tuned .... #ReadorWriteANYWHERE 





Tuesday, March 31, 2015

WRITING INSPIRATION!

What inspires you to write?


It can be more than one thing: a place or location, a song, a movie, reading, a TV show, a picture, another person or couple, dancing the jig. 


I'm sure there are more. These are just the ones off the top of my head, and where I tend to draw inspiration. 

My mood is also a factor and I think the weather is too. If it's gloomy or rainy (Florida here, it doesn't get much worse than that) I can start to feel down or sad even. If I'm writing or needing to write a depressing, emotionally struggling scene that works wonders for my inspiration, but what if it's sunny and I'm still sad? Or what if my mood is undecided, like it's hijacked my brain and is playing Monkey in the Middle with my thoughts, therefore making me ineffective in a very frustrated way.

Let's go even further and say I've tried the usual: listened to music fitting for the scene, channeled my character/s, stalked Pinterest for pictures that might provoke the tiniest form of inspiration, only to end up repinning recipe ideas, my dream room decor, and/or exotic destinations I'd love to visit one day. It happens. Might have even happened last week.


So what's a girl to do when her usual go-to inspiration evoking techniques aren't working? Any suggestions? Seriously, if you've got'em share'em. I'd love to know. They might be useful in the un-inspirational future. Can never be too prepared. You know what I mean? Sure, you do. We've all been there, and those of us who write will be there again. It's called writers block. 
I thought I was impervious to it. Then I got it once and it's been stopping by unannounced ever since. The Funk Zone, is what I call it. When nothing looks good, nothing feels right, nothing seems worth pursuing, because nothing can save you from this funk you're in. Am I right?


In the hopes of freeing myself from my recent funky Pit of Despair state, I decided not to try anything. 
I did everything but try to fix my funk. I might have focused a little too much on food and going out to eat and gained a few unwanted pounds that are killing me to lose, but the ideas started coming. Halleluiah. The creative side of my brain was back in business and I did something I've never done before. I plotted a story. 

Usually, I panster my novels, doing only a loose outline. A,B,C though it's more like B,M,E—beginning, middle, end. But when inspiration struck me this time, instead of gluing my slightly larger derrière to the seat and panstering for the next several weeks, I took three days and plotted that novel chapter by chapter. It was like writing the summary but in reverse since I usually do that last. It was awesome. I was able to get everything out of my head before I lost it and without losing track of the plot. Now all I have to do is fill in the blanks, and I am so excited to write it.  

Of course, that part will take longer than three days, but my Funk Zone/Pit of Despair moment led me to a new way of dealing with writers block by not dealing with it –and gaining a few pounds, though I wouldn't recommend that last part.

I have no idea if this will work for me in the future and since I plan to write again, and again, and again, writer's block is inevitable. If you have a technique that isn't listed above and want to share it—sharing is caring—please do so. It doesn't have to be something you do when you're stuck. It can be what you do when you want to be inspired to write a certain scene or pursue an idea, or something you just do to get in the mood to write. Suggestions are valuable, don’t be shy. ; )


HAPPY WRITING!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

It's finally here!  PAPER OR PLASTIC, by Vivi Barnes, ya author of OLIVIA TWISTED.





Caught for shoplifting lipstick at the local SmartMart, sixteen-year-old Lex is horrified when her mother insists she work at the store over the summer to atone for her crime. Now, instead of working with her best friends at the trendy Clique, she’s reduced to dealing with crazy coupon ladies, oddball coworkers, and Noah, her supervisor whom she only knows as the school geek. To make matters worse, what’s left of her social life evaporates as her mother drags her to her diva sister’s Coastal Princess Pageant.
But as she gets to know the people of SmartMart, and as she spends more time getting to know the shy Noah, Lex learns there’s a lot more to her coworkers than meets the eye.

Vivi's humor and romantic interests always keep the pages turning for me. 
Check out her bio below and links for more information on this talented young adult author!!!


Originally from East Texas (the accent comes out more often than not), I now live in the magic and sunshine of Orlando, FL with my very understanding husband and three kids. I’m an extrovert with awkward blogging tendencies. My debut novel, OLIVIA TWISTED, comes out November 5, 2013 from Entangled Teen!
You can connect with her Facebook,TwitterGoodreadsPinterest



Vivi and me at her launch last weekend. Love you!!!

Friday, January 16, 2015

QUERY CRITIQUE GIVEAWAY!

Learning about queries, how to write them, and seeing what works is always helpful to writers. 

I also think it's a process best learned by experience—as in you need to practice, practice, practice!

In the link below, you'll find a great query example and Suzie Townsend's thoughts on why it works. 



I have my own story—as I'm sure you all do—about my journey from sucktastic to agented.   

I sucked at writing queries. I think I was the worst of the worst! Maybe even worse than that. It was like trying to teach a goat to speak--in english. They never came out right. 

I even put myself out there and let one of my queries be posted on a blog that offered friendly advice. It was nerve-wracking being that vulnerable to criticism. But it went well, wasn't as horrible as I thought it'd be, and I learned that I can handle, well, putting myself out there. 

Afterward, I continued to study query writing. Taking online classes, buying every book I could find on queries. I wrote one after the other. And they still sucked!

One day I was at an SCWBI conference and I had a critique with a published author. The first thing she brought up was the disastrous query I had posted on that site and how it needed a lot of work. I wanted to die. The good news is, she really liked my writing and story and even said it was the only critique she read where the characters stayed with her. She was thinking about them later that night and when she woke up, which is why she looked me up online and found my horrific query. 

 I explained to her that I had been working relentlessly on improving my skills and that my last query earned me a request from an agent. But the one she saw online was so bad I'm not sure she believed me. LOL. All in all, the meeting was positive and she ended reminding me to work on that query.

The whole ordeal sent me into a frenzy over my query being online for professionals to see. What if an agent saw it and assumed I couldn't write? What if they assumed it was the best I could do? As a person with anxiety disorder the "what if's" went on and on and on. I was convinced that old query would ruin my chance at getting an agent. So I emailed the person who ran the blog and asked him to take down the old one, explaining what happened and my worry/embarrassment over the ordeal. I apologized and offered him my new query in place of the old one. He kindly removed the post and saved the other query, saying he might use it as a success story in the future. I could breathe again, and was extremely grateful. 

The agent who had requested the partial from my query did not result in a contract, so I forged on, working, and studying and learning all I could about queries while continuing to write new novels. I'm sure you can imagine my surprise when I found my old query on the internet again. 

Yep. My atrocious query and story from months—if not a year ago—were there. I'd never seen the blog before. I didn't know who ran it, I knew nothing about it, only that they chose to post something that was private—between me and the other blogger—and to do it without my permission. 

I suppose that's what I get for putting myself and my work out there. It was disheartening to say the least. But even after that cheap blow, and the multiple other queries I wrote that were rejected, I didn't quit. I was determined to write a good query, even if it killed me.

Then the most amazing thing happened. I wrote one that I really liked—really felt good about.  It wasn't the traditional style. It wasn't out there in left field either, it just felt like my style. Some of my crit partners didn't get it, or thought it was too long, but I stuck with my gut and sent it out. And wouldn't you know, the requests started piling in. (40 partials and 20 fulls.) 

I was ecstatic but far from done. Those fulls turned into revisions and those revisions turned into rejections—EXCEPT for two. I held on to those two like they were the kite strings to my lifeline. The strings to my dreams. I worked day and night to do yet a third revision for each, and eventually I landed an agent. 

The point is, it all started with the worst query ever and one very determined girl. It wasn't easy, it didn't flow, I got internet attacked in the process, but I kept writing. Awful query after awful query until they weren't so awful anymore.

Now, I can confidently say I write awesome queries. So much so, my writer friends come to me for help with their queries. Crazy! But true. So if the worst query writer on the planet can turn into an awesome one, then so can you!

In honor of this post, I'm going to offer query critiques to the first two people to leave a comment. If you're comfortable with leaving your email address, I will contact you later today for your query information. Or I can contact you through your Google account.

I WILL not share your query with the world. I will keep it private. I will never post it on the internet or on someone else's blog. I will give you the best advice I can and let you run with it, as it is your story.  

Have a great weekend and happy Friday!

~Tara