Friday, September 19, 2014

Fast Fiction in Action!

If you've been thinking of trying NaNoWriMo, but feel unsure of your ability to come up with a good enough idea or to keep on task to finish, read this testimony by the founder and director of the International Association of Journal Writing, Ruth Folit:

Fast Fiction in Action: My Experience of Writing the First-Draft of a Novel with Denise Jaden

When I first read Denise Jaden's book Fast Fiction: A Guide to Outlining and Writing a First-Draft Novel in Thirty Days and then interviewed her for an IAJW telechat in April of this year, I was fascinated by her confidence that someone with no prior experience could write a first-draft of novel in two months. I hadn't ever seriously thought that I would or could write a novel. I had written journal entries for more than 40 years, and I've written scores of articles for newsletters and posts for blogs during the last fifteen years, but I've never written fiction. I've never taken a creative writing class. Ever.

The idea of taking the Fast Fiction class with Denise this summer was so intriguing that I signed up. I had no trips planned in the second four week period, so I figured it was the right time to try my hand at writing the fast-draft of a novel.

The first day of the class, there's a group phone call and upbeat group energy begins. This class is about the process—not as much as about the content of your story—although some general sharing of content occurs. I had no—absolutely NO—idea about the story line before I began the class. Watching it develop was part of the magic.

Denise asks that you spend 20 minutes to one hour a day on the first month. Every day she gives you a bite-sized piece of background information followed by an assignment. You'll learn, for example, how to:
·        brainstorm story ideas
·        identify how we each best come up with creative ideas
·        create characters
·        develop setting and themes
·        build a three-act structure

She offers information about logistics (like experimenting with and finding the most productive time of day and environment for you to brainstorm or to write) as well as feedback and problem-solving when you are stuck.

By the end of the first month you have a firm starting point to write. You don't necessarily have the whole story planned out, but you have a good running start and permission and encouragement to let the writing process proceed creatively and organically so that if surprise twists and changes in the plot appear as you write, you simply go with them. Denise and your fellow group members are a sounding board, listening and reacting to triumphs, frustrations, and questions of process. The group environment is actively encouraging—buoying you past barriers that might otherwise stop you dead.

The second month fingers meet the keyboard every day. For the next 30 days the assignment is to write 2000 words daily. Denise is firm. Don't miss a day. Keep the momentum going. The reminder is that this is a first draft. It's quick writing based upon the solid planning that you had done the previous four weeks. Denise claimed that it would take between 1 and 1 ½ hours daily, but it took me almost two hours each day for me to write 2000 words. Some days I only got to 1500 words and I couldn't spend any more time on the project.

Denise herself has written more than a half a dozen books using her method. (And two are published by Simon and Schuster.) She anticipates the patterns during the 30 writing days where the energy and momentum is high and where the process may be bumpy and slow-going. She's a cheerleader throughout as well as a player on the field; she wrote the first-draft of a novel along with us during the last four weeks.

I did have two days in the second month where I missed writing entirely. During those days I did, however, think about the next steps of the story so that I stayed in the flow, and caught up the next few days, so that I did have more than 50,000 words written by the end of the month—a little short of the 60,000 word goal, but within the range of a full-size novel.

Denise tells us that the next step will be revision—which is not part of this class. And she emphasizes the need to let the first draft sit for at least a couple of weeks, if not longer if you'd like, before revising. The point is that now you have a solid start, a rough draft that was written quickly and so has freshness and momentum. It is like the rough carving out of a block of wood or a piece of stone for creating sculpture. You've created the large cuts that shape the piece. The next steps are the finer chiseling, refining and sanding down to make it into a polished piece.

The writing process was surprisingly empowering for me on a couple of levels:

1. The process felt similar to writing in my journal. Although most of what occurred in the story didn't happen to me in my real life, I often thought back to a conversation I easily could have had with my sister, or my parents or my own children or a friend when I was in high school. I imagined myself there at the scene I was writing and the story flowed easily and unfolded in front of me with less effort than I ever imagined.

2. The story I wrote had parallels to my own personal struggles. In writing this particular story the protagonist overcame some of the issues that I've worked hard in real life to overcome and continue to work on. The writing bolstered me emotionally. I knew first-hand the protagonist's pain and then felt her triumph in making the changes, her solving the problems, and having the family support and guidance that I in reality didn't have.

If you have even a sliver of interest in writing a novel (and November is the National Novel Writing Month –NaNoWriMo—during which hundreds of thousands of people participate) this is an opportunity that you should jump on now. Denise is the ultimate sherpa to guide you on climbing to the top of this mountain.

30 experts enrich and deepen your journal writing. New, occasional, and dedicated diary writers get tips, prompts, and telecasts for journal keeping.Ruth Folit has been keeping a journal for 40+ years. She is the founder/director of the International Association for Journal Writing  and designer for LifeJournal software. She just wrote a first draft of her first novel as a student in the IAJW class with Denise Jaden.


Needless to say, I'm thrilled by Ruth's testimony. If you'd like to find out more information about the course, or to sign up, drop by the registration page: http://www.iajw.org/products/item80.cfm



Friday, September 12, 2014

Cover Reveals! Leap Book's New E-Novella Line SHINE!

I'm really excited for Leap Books new "face" with their new editorial team and publishers! These awesome new covers, I have no doubt, are just a taste of great things to come from them!


About HALF-LIFE: Probably not a good idea to take advice from your dead twin sister. 

High school sophomore Trisha Traynor and friends have played the Halloween mirror game for years, the one that’s supposed to show a glimpse of the guy they’ll marry. But no one’s ever seen anything.

Until tonight—when Trisha is gob smacked by the candlelit arrival of her long-deceased twin sister, instead of her crush, Kirk Maxwell.

In a voice and vision that only Trisha can hear and see, Chessie claims to be back on a compassionate journey. Trisha fears she's gone nuthouse crazy. But she nonetheless follows the instructions Chessie outlines in their nightly conversations, until she finds herself stepping across some ethical lines, and probably ending all chances with Kirk.

When a sisterly showdown ensues, resulting in the shattering of the mirror, Chessie’s gone again, and a heartsick Trisha sets about righting her recent wrongs. That is, until she stumbles upon the real reason Chessie had come back and the most important glimpse yet that the mirror could never predict.

About Tina Ferraro: Tina Ferraro been writing since she learned to hold a pencil, and sold upwards of a hundred short stories to national magazines before turning to novels. She is the author of three Random House novels, The ABC’s of Kissing Boys, How to Hook a Hottie and Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress, which have received distinctions such as the ABA Book Sense Award and two RITA nominations.

Her fourth YA, The Starter Boyfriend, has spent time on Amazon’s Top 100 Lists. She lives in Los Angeles with her rocket scientist husband, two cats and whichever of their three young adult children is in town. When not writing, she enjoys playing Facebook Scrabble, swimming, and chasing coyotes out of her neighborhood.

Watch for Tina’s title with Shine….HALF-LIFE which follows Trisha in the days before her 15th birthday, as her long deceased identical twin makes appearances in mirrors to help prevent her similarly early demise. (ETA, Fall 2015)

Social Media Links, Tina Ferraro:
Facebook:   tina.ferraro1 (and) Tina Ferraro’s Books
Twitter:  @PromMom3





About RACING HEARTS: He wants to honor his father’s legacy; she wants to prove her father wrong.

18-year-old Jesse is still grieving from the loss of his father to cancer when he learns his mother has lost her job. All too soon, Jesse, his little sister, and his mother might be put out on the streets.

Jesse hears of a local car race sponsored by his father's nemesis, Shep Bradley, and the prize money might be enough to keep Jesse’s family from losing their home - if he can win it.

When Shep’s own daughter Brooke asks Jesse to build her a racecar against her father’s wishes, Jesse accepts. After all, he needs the money.

About Laura Lascarso: Laura Lascarso strives to craft stories that are honest and real with characters who must overcome great odds. Her debut novel Counting Backwards (Atheneum 2012) won the Florida Book Award gold medal for YA literature. RACING HEARTS is Laura’s first e-series with Leap Books. She lives in North Florida with her darling husband, two children and a menagerie of animals.

Watch for Laura’s series with Shine which follows a pair of star-crossed lovers. He wants to honor his father’s legacy; she wants to prove her father wrong in this modern-day Romeo & Juliet set in the world of competitive car racing. (ETA. Fall 2015)
Visit Laura on TwitterFacebook, and her website.

Social Media Links, Laura Lascarso:
Twitter:  @lauralascarso


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Guest Post: The 4-1-1 on Writer's Block by Sonia Chopra

I've been working with Sonis Chopra on getting set up on a new writer's platform called Penned (you can download the app through your iPhone/iPad. It looks like a great app, though I haven't had much time to play around on it yet. Sonia offered to write a guest post for writers who follow my blog and since I'm always happy to get insight from other writers, I'm excited to share this with you...

The 4-1-1 on Writer’s Block
by Sonia Chopra

If you’re a writer, you’re no stranger to writer’s block. In fact, he may be your best friend. It happens to the best of us, and can be rather frustrating… Only making things worse.

So how can we politely ask this friend to leave? What are some ways to prevent him from staying too long? From personal experience, I have found some of the most effective ways to combat the enemy, are seemingly silly and even more frustrating. But in reality, I can promise you that at least one of these will ease the writing woes and kick your friend onto the curb of uninvited house-guests.

1.     Step away… Step away from your work. Put it out of sight, and out of mind for a mere fifteen minutes.  Try to direct your attention to another project or task that involves creativity.. Get those creative wheels oiled up again!
2.     Just Dance. It’ll Be Okay. Doo-doo-doo. Just Dance. I’m serious. Yes this is a famous lyric from Lady Gaga… but it’s the truth. Crank up some music (maybe “Just Dance” perhaps?), and get your body moving. This helps ease the stress and frustration of writer’s block, while allowing your mind to have fun in a creative and active way.. You never know.. A song lyric could even inspire you!
3.     Desk. Bed. Desk. Do you always write in the same place? It’s time to switch it up!!! The normal routine setting may just be inspiring normal and routine thoughts.. But no anymore! Go sit outside at your local park, coffee shop, or even in a different room of your house (if you are that lazy).  The change of scenery sparks a change of ideas within our brain.
4.     Exchange Ideas. View Other’s Work. Get inspired by the thoughts and feedback of others. Post your ideas or what you have so far on forums or apps such as PennedApp (a social media platform for writers, that allows readers to like, comment, and share their work). View what professionals and everyday writers are working on… Humans live to inspire other humans!
Whatever you do, just remember that writer’s block is temporary. It’s a mal-function, like when wheels run out of oil and must come to a halt. All that is needed is a little oil (these tips), and they’ll get to spinning again, promise! 


About the Author: Sonia Chopra is a newly graduated student from UCLA, working with founder Brian Sanders on Penned: The new platform for writers. While she spends most of her time working for a startup in Hollywood, she also enjoys reading up on aspiring indie authors, modeling, freelance writing, and being a celebrity publicist. 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

YA Book Trailers

I admit, I love trailers, whether for new movies or new books. My husband and I try to get to the theater early so we won't miss the previews. I love a trailer that properly sets the mood for a movie or a book.

Here's a trailer for one of my GCC mate's new book:



Like I said, the most important thing for me is that a trailer properly sets the mood. I'm busy working on a trailer for FOREIGN EXCHANGE. I love working on my own trailers to try and capture the mood I'm looking for. I'm curious, what is the most important thing for you when watching a trailer for a movie or book?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Out Today: My Soon-To-Be Sex Life by @judithtewes !

About the Book:
Charlie is down to her absolute. Total. Last. Resort.

Despite a thoroughly comprehensive list of potential cherry poppers, er…suitors, and careful plotting, Charlie is three weeks into her devirginzation campaign, still untouched, and getting desperate. In the movie of her life, this aspiring screenwriter is giving herself a PG, for please, get some.

Her project goes into freeze frame when her mom checks herself into rehab and packs Charlie off to live with her estranged, or just plain strange, grandfather, Monty. How is she supposed to get a date when she has to go pick up his Depends? 

Enter Eric, a hot rehab grad on the road to redemption, and the only one who can make Charlie rethink her strategy. The more she gets to know him, the more convinced she becomes that is the one, and not just another to add to the list of people who will abandon her.

In this hilarious and heartbreaking story of one girl’s detoured road to womanhood, Charlie’s list develops a life of its own – right when she realizes there’s so much more to lose. 

Find the book on...

Barnes and Noble - http://bit.ly/1pr42Mw
Chapters/Indigo - http://bit.ly/1kIxJ9q

About Judith: Judith Tewes resides in small town northern Alberta, where she: writes, sings, plays bass guitar in an all-woman band, walks her three crazy labs, and suspects she's living the life of a superhero's alias.

Follow Judith:


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Introducing LUCKY ME by Cindy Callaghan!

I wanted to wish a happy release day to my friend and fellow writer Cindy Callaghan's.  Her newest tween book LUCKY ME is now available everywhere.  It already got a stellar early review from School Library Journal.

You can check out all the cool 411 from Cindy Callaghan on her website  www.cindycallaghan.com.


From School Library Journal
Gr 4–8—Middle-schooler Meghan McGlinchey, third daughter in a large, Irish-American family is extremely superstitious. Upon receiving a chain letter in the mail from an Irish relative, she plans to respond quickly so as not to break the chain. In the interest of getting the letter's promised good luck to begin for her even faster, Meghan emails it to the next recipients rather than the mandated way. After a day filled with one calamity after another, she realizes the error of her ways and, with the help of her friend Carissa, she discovers a way to neutralize her bad luck. A family trip to Ireland ensues, complete with a stay at a genuine, if decaying, castle, plenty of unlucky mishaps, and a host of adventures populated with quirky characters. By novel's end, Meghan is able to see that events first thought of as unlucky may have had a silver lining after all. This humorous novel has elements of mystery, sibling drama, Irish history and geography, and a bit of light tween romance. Readers will want to stick around to see if Meghan's luck takes a turn for the better.—Sara-Jo Lupo Sites, George F. Johnson Memorial Library, Endicott, NY

Monday, July 14, 2014

And the Advanced Copy of ISLA goes to...

Thanks to everyone who entered my cover reveal contest and celebrated my new cover for FOREIGN EXCHANGE with me. If you haven't seen it yet, here it is! I'm thrilled with it.


Sadly, I only have one advance copy of ISLA AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER to give away, but I'm excited that the copy goes to...

Clara Song!

Congratulations, Clara. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. And thanks again to everyone who entered!