Wednesday, December 28, 2011

New Beginning for a New Year

Well, Christmas has finally come and gone. The presents were opened, the feasts enjoyed. And now a the world prepares to usher out one year and welcome in a brand spankin' new one.

With this comes the idea of new beginnings. Folks resolve to make changes and start new projects to celebrate the start of a new year. Typically I don't make New Year's Resolutions at all, but this year I've been forced to consider a drastic new path for my YA writing career.

You see, Sapphire Blue Publishing, the publisher of my YA Hell House series, decided rather suddenly to close its doors December 1st. The news came as a shock to all of the authors, especially those of us who'd been with the company since it began in 2008 (like me). The company wasn't in any kind of peril, but there were just things outside of the scope of control of the authors that led to the closure.

I, myself, was devastated. I felt like the proverbial rug had been yanked out from under me. However, the publisher was speedy in returning the writes to us authors for our works, and even threw in the rights to the wonderful cover art as a way to sort of take the sting out of what was happening.

Which left me with a predicament. Do I begin the entire query process again, or should I take the leap into the world of self-publishing? I mean, I had completely edited stories and cover art at my fingertips, so why not?

That being said, I took the plunge and decided I was going to take control of the situation, and put my beloved stories back out there myself. After a crash course in formatting and cover art editing, the first book in the Hell House series, Holiday Hell House, is back up on Amazon and All Romance eBooks. It's definitely more work, and in no way means I'm through with querying publishers, but I am proud to have taken charge of my path and excited to see what new things lie ahead in this new year. Hopefully, I'll be able to get the next two books back up and available soon, and move on with writing even more stories starring this great cast of characters.

Until then, you can purchase Holiday Hell House with a sneak new preview of Fairy Fury at Amazon and All Romance eBooks published by...ME!

And it's only 99 cents!



Have a fabulous New Year!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Calling all YA Authors...

Happy December 26! Are you all as exhausted as I am?  Today in the Jade household we celebrate National Jammie Day. We hang out in our PJ's all day, relaxing, watching movies and playing with our new toys. No company, no cooking and no getting dressed!  It has become one of my favorite days!

With the new year quickly approaching, I thought I'd put a call out to all the YA authors, both established and aspiring. Are you newly contracted or are you working on your very first manuscript? I'd love to hear from you. I'm taking requests for interviews, guest blogs, blurbs, excerpts and cover art. I want to feature you over on...


If you're looking for a place to promote your work in 2012 pop on over and check out my YA blog. And then e-mail me at ellajade818 at gmail dot com and I'll set you up with a date.

Happy New Year!

Ella



Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Elementary Dear Watson

I watched the second Sherlock Holmes tonight (it is Sunday as I write this post). It was a really great movie, full of action, intrigue, fun visuals, entertaining Holmes deductions. It was exactly what I had hoped for. As my boyfriend and I walked out of the theater we discussed the movie, and then some of the movie posters on the walls, such as the new Underworld movie. As we approached the exit my brain switched gears and I literally stopped and one of those scenes from the movie flashed through my mind. The ones where everything slows down and Holmes suddenly knows the next moves in a fight, both his and his opponents. Except it wasn’t a scene from the movie… it was a novel. The story unfolded just like Holmes’ fights. My boyfriend asked me what was wrong and I started to giggle. I did eventually explain to him why I was laughing maniacally and told him the story I’d envisioned on the ride to Wal Mart where the sales associates were treated to little bits and pieces of my insanity as I laid out my story.

I’m not sure what really triggered this explosion but it has happened to me before. Things unfold much like the scenes from the movie and then I have a novel. Perhaps not as complete as the fights that Sherlock Holmes envisions, but it’s a start. And of course there is plenty of work left to be done before I tackle this project. I’ve been working on how to retell a novel I wrote way back when. By working on, I mean pondering every now and again, not seriously considering, but now I have a plan, and perhaps in six months, after I finish my current round of projects, I’ll start in on this project. Yay for brainstorms.

How do novels unfold to you? All at once or a little at a time? Do you have to tear every bit from the page, or does it all explode into place? For me it’s usually a little of both.

As a side note, apparently “Elementary Dear Watson” never actually appears in the books, but came into usage in one of the movies.

Now for a little pimpage. I recently completed reworking (with tons of help from others naturally) and publishing my Vampire-Hunting Dog stories into a single novella. It’s available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble and if you want to know more, you can go to my website.

Doc is a Border Collie who hunts vampires with his human, Kevin. In this adventure they face their first fight and their most dangerous foe. It’s man’s best friend vs. his worst enemy…

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Noble YA Holiday Hop! Meet Lisa Kuehne!

***NEWS FLASH!  Although the Hop ended last night, you have until Wednesday Night to get your answers in!***
...
Bad Boys Who Inspire. . . .

By: Lisa Kuehne

What girl hasn’t been attracted to a bad boy at least once in her life?

Sometimes once isn’t enough. At least it wasn’t for me. There was something about a bad boy that grabbed my interest. Like a gambler who can’t say no to the game, I thought I could change them. We’ll just say “luck” wasn’t on my side and most likely wasn’t for any other girls they dated either.  

I failed miserably at converting them. But my love for a bad boy hasn’t completely ceased. I love them in the movies and books. And I especially like to write them as characters. Bad boys bring adventure, a challenge, and danger. Maybe that’s why we can’t give them up . . . they make us feel alive.

One question has always lingered in the back of my mind. Are certain guys destined to become bad boys or is there an event in their lives that push them there?

In the True Intentions Trilogy, two main characters each have unique stories to their bad boy origins.

In book one, True Intentions, we meet Samuel Perry. He may not have started off having bad boy blood, but one crucial event at seventeen changed him forever. . . .

In book two, Deadly Intentions, we come face to face with a new bad boy, Drake, who may look like a typical bad boy hottie, but Drake comes with enough evil and danger he makes the devil look like a kitten. If I had any doubt certain guys are destined to be bad boys, Drake makes me reconsider.

My failure to convert the bad boys in my life just left me with a few scars on my heart. In heroin, Ava O’Brian’s case, failure means certain death.

Will luck be on Ava’s side?

 Ava O'Brian is dealing with more than a teenager's typical temptations of right versus wrong. Ava is unaware she possesses a rare and unique gift, a soul with the ability to influence. Unfortunately, Satan will stop at nothing to gain control of her special ability.

Ava's faith is seriously shaken when she is the sole survivor of the car accident that kills her father and twin brother. When she relocates and faces the ultimate temptation in Samuel Perry, her mysterious classmate living on earth since 1798 to tempt and damn mankind, Ava isn't sure she can resist.

Sam must decide if he will lead Ava straight into the devil's trap or place his immortal existence on the line in order to keep her alive.

What ultimate price is Ava willing to pay for love? What if it means giving up her life or turning over her soul straight into Satan's hands for the boy of her dreams?

Buy Links:



***
Now, you've gotta earn your chance at the prizes, which includes an eBook reader!   Read over the post and think really hard.  Then, answer this question:

What does Drake make the devil look like?
Please send answers to Erika at: erika@nobleromance.com
***
Okay, Readers, keep hopping for more great posts, authors, and PRIZES!
I'm the next hop.  Just click on the link and read about how I learned to Love Fiercely, Wanting Nothing Else!   Kimber An at Ella's Muse   http://ellasmuse.blogspot.com/
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Here are the other Hop Stops, just in case-
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Saewod- http://lisakuehne.wordpress.com
Lisa http://fabulouslyyoungepubs.blogspot.com
Kimber http://ellasmuse.blogspot.com
Ella- http://steppingquietly.blogspot.com
Bonnie http://saewod.webs.com/apps/blog

Happy (Whatever) Day!

It's the holidays! *throws confetti*

Today marks the official start of the holiday season at my house. Since we travel to my parents' place for Christmas Eve/Day, today is when the hubs and I settle in with the kids and do our holiday thing... or at least start it.

You see, while I can't say we celebrate every holiday, we do try to acknowledge it. Today is our gift exchange day. It's when we sit around in our pajamas and open presents and eat cookies and hang out. In short, it's both the smallest and most relaxed party. Then later in the week, we're going to talk about both Hanukkah and Yule. They'll get their annual does of Christmas when we go to church Christmas Eve with my family. We talk about the differences and the similarities in different faiths. (Please note that each of the pictures used in this post are traditional of one of those three holy days.)

My family sometimes gives me grief because we aren't raising our children in a religion. To that, my argument has always been (and will continue to be) that we have chosen to raise them spiritually with knowledge of many faiths. And the best part is, they want to learn. Religion is this immense font of both fact and mythology that appeals to school-age children at a very basic level. As a parent I have three options: force a particular school of thought on them, give them a taste of many and let them choose what they want to know about, or ignore it entirely.

We went with the middle road. My son is obsessed with ancient religions, whereas my daughter is recently very into God. I'm okay with both of those things because they chose them. If and when my children decide to become people of faith, they will do so with the knowledge and understanding of other religions out there. My hope is it will make them better people all around, less judgmental and more tolerant of others.

So today, my family is celebrating the gift of each other and our right to choose our own path. in the coming days we will discuss the birth of the Sun God, the festival of lights and the birth of the Son of God. And we will promise to let our own inner glow illuminate the world in the new year.

With that in mind, I'd like to wish you a joyous holiday season, whatever you celebrate. Light a candle, say a prayer, sing a carol, hug someone you love. It's a season of joy, and I hope it touches each and every one of you.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Noble YA Holiday Hop Stops Here in the Morning!

Be sure to pop in and find out how to win prizes!   I'm hosting Lisa!  Gorgeous cover art, huh?

Friday News: Kimber An's First Growed-Up Story!

Just signed a contract for my very first adult story, a Short Story (about 3500 words) called Valentine's Day in the Hardware Story Parking Lot. 

It's about a woman who's almost thirty and who has been working very hard all her life at acheiving Happily Ever After, but all her efforts have been a bust.  Then, she takes a risk and seeks out a little old lady who can find the perfect guy for every girl just by looking at his car or truck.  At first, she's told the lady is psychic, a psychic car-reader!  But, she turns out to be something quite different. 
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Here I am conducting research for this story a decade and a half and five babies ago with my husband on our engagement day-

My YA girl liked this story a lot, so you all might too, even though the heroine is a decade beyond high school.  She's one of those adults who didn't figure something out that most teens do before they graduate.  This story is for the Sweetheart Line at Noble Romance, so it doesn't have anything in it that would freak out the moms.  I'm hoping it will have wide appeal.
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Am I leaving Young Adult?  Heck, no!  This was just for fun.  Short Stories are like yummy little nibbles.
;)
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The other funny thing about this story is that it is totally in the Here & Now.  No lightsabers, no invisibility cloaks, and no blood-sucking dead guys.  Weird, huh?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

You’re Only As Good As Your Last Page

The other night my wife and I stopped into one of our favorite sushi bars for a little dinner. It’s just a little place, featuring Thai and Japanese cuisine, maybe 12 tables in all, most of them for two; a few for four.

It’s always been a happy place for us, and it’s not just because we love the food. Every time we walk in, the place is warm and inviting, the sushi chef recognizes us and welcomes us in, the wait staff – even if they’re new – is warm and genial and seats us quickly, or lets us pick a table, or… whatever.

It’s a place we go when we need a pick me up, a warm, welcome respite after a bad day or a long day or just… a Tuesday. But the other night, man, it was like someone had sprinkled bad mojo dust all over the place.

For one, a big sign on the front window proclaimed they were closing the next day for the last two weeks of the year. There was no one inside, and my wife literally were like, “We should go.” But then one of the waitresses walked into view, saw us and we were busted, so… in we went.

But the waitress was new, and didn’t say a thing. I was like, “Are you guys open?”

She kind of yawned and said, “Yeah, we’re open.”

Yikes. My wife and I kind of exchanged looks and sat down. It was just… odd. And it never got better. Even when a familiar face or two showed up, like the sushi chef and hostess, they could barely be bothered.

We hurried up and ate and left and on the way out, my wife and I looked at each other and shuddered. Then she said something that’s stuck with me ever since: “Gheez, I’m glad this wasn’t the first time we ever ate there. I’d never go back.”

Okay, so, long story but here’s the payoff: You’re only as good as your last page. Meaning, make it worthwhile. And I’m not just saying the “last page” of your book. I’m talking about the last page someone just read of your book, whether it’s page 5, 15, 50 or 250.

My nightstand currently has about seven different books from three or four different genres; some YA, a few cozy Christmas mysteries, a western, whatever. Half I’ll never pick up again because the last page I read just didn’t inspire me to read any further. I got through the first 15 or 20 pages before I fell asleep, picked it up a second night just to give it another chance, but… that’s about as far as I’m willing to go.

I don’t want to have to “work for it,” you know? Even if it’s a book I spent a lot of money on, or by one of my favorite authors, or a Christmas or YA book I *really* want to get into, there’s a certain point where even I throw in the towel.

So give them something to keep reading. I’m not saying use cliffhangers or gimmicks or “tricks,” per se, but just try to avoid the filler, the long exposes, the stretches that may matter a LOT to you but might bore or even disinterest the reader. Edit carefully and, if necessary, a little ruthlessly.

One thing I really enjoy about writing eBooks is that none of my ePubs have strict word requirements. If it’s too short, they’ll call it a novella, but pretty much if my story is complete at 50,000 or even 40,000 words, we’re both good with it.

That way I’m not looking for ways to add another 30,000- or 40,000-words just to make some mandatory and, frankly, unrealistic word count. It lets me tell a complete story tightly, and allows me to keep things moving fairly briskly.

That helps me keep every page lean and moving in a forward motion so that, hopefully, the last page – and every page in between – is as good as the first!

Yours in YA,

Rusty

PS: Happy Holidays everyone!!!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

So Many Stories?

Not sure who said it first, but, in reality, there are no new stories.  Only new ways of telling them.  Don’t believe me?  Check this out..
J.R.R. Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings over sixty years ago.  Here is Ian McKellen portraying the wise old wizard character, Gandolf.
Notice his striking resemblance to Professor Dumbledore in the Harry Potter stories?
 And Obi Wan Kenobi of Star Wars fame?
J.K. Rowling and George Lucus weren’t copying anyone.  You can go all the way back thousands of years and find the same wise old character mentoring Jason, Aeneas, and Achilles in Greek Mythology.
Why?  Because, there are no original stories.  Only new ways of telling them.  Why are there no original stories?  (Psst, I love ‘why!’)  Because human beings have certain needs and great stories help fill those needs.  A boy needs a wise man to help him along the path to manhood, to help him discover his strengths, and to become confident in using them.  A boy’s natural instinct is to get into conflicts with his father, like a blade sharpening itself against a stone.  But, a *grandfather* fits the bill.  Sadly, not many boys have a grandfather, or a good grandfather, around to fill this need.  And so we have the wise old mentor character.
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If you’re a storyteller wannabe of any kind, check out anything by Joseph Campbell, the dude who wrote extensively on the Monomyth.  George Lucus learned a ton from him and you can really see it in the Star Wars saga.  The Monomyth  is a good place to start.
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As for me, I know the heroine from my Ophelia Dawson Chronicles is not the first girl to kick blood-sucking dead guys where it hurts most.
And I know she’s not the first to kiss a vampire either.
Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)
But, she is the first to addict one to Nintendo DS.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Who let those rockstars into the neighborhood?

I've got nothing writerly this month so have some Christmas lights & Holiday Wishes to slide you into 2012 :)


Monday, December 5, 2011

BOOM!

Happy Holidays!

Hello everyone! Now that it is December (can you believe it? Where did the year go?) I wanted to take a moment to wish all of you a happy holiday season and a wonderful new year! Let’s see what happens to all of us in 2012!

As for me, I am rapidly making my way through my writing list and completing lots of projects that I am excited about. For a while, I was sidelined (well slowed) by a lot of negative energy that I couldn’t seem to remove from my life. But, fortunately that seems to have gone away and as soon as I was free from it—boom—the writing came back.

How about all of you? How do you brainstorm? What keeps your writing from BOOMING?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

It Only Takes One Yes!

                    

"It only takes one yes." This is the advice a fellow writer and good friend of mine told me once, and she's right. It does only take one "yes" to make your dreams come true. But its finding that "yes" that's the challenge sometimes. I enjoy hearing stories from other authors sharing how they got their big break, but as much as I enjoy hearing of their success, I just as much enjoy hearing about their failures. No, I'm not cruel and sadistic, although misery does love company, but I believe there is a lot to be learned in those rejections.

Rejection teaches us patience, and perseverance, while developing growth and character. It's easy to quit, easy to give up, but it takes strength and courage to repeatedly put yourself out there, hoping to catch that one "yes". You pray that your work will find its way into the right hands, of the right literary agent or publisher, who's in the right mood, at the right time.

It's taken me almost a year to find the right home for my novel, Until Darkness Comes, tentatively scheduled for release March 21, 2012. To the published, I'd love to hear your experiences breaking into the literary world. To the unpublished, I'd just like to remind you to never give up. It only takes one "yes" :)

Have a great week!

Melynda Price

Monday, November 28, 2011

Is it December already?

Well, we're pretty close to it being December. Thanksgiving is behind us and the holiday season has kicked into full gear. Problem is...


No one told the plot bunnies hopping around in my head I don't have time for them to multiply. I've got cookies to bake, presents to buy, a house to decorate, holiday cards to write and a Christmas meal to prepare for fifteen guests. Not to mention all the other stuff that still insists on going on despite the holiday hoopla (kids' sports, homework, house cleaning...) See my point?

December isn't the best month for someone who likes to hit the computer keyboard eight hours a day. How will I cope? I got it covered...

*I'll take lots of notes every chance I get. Good thing I always carry that notebook and pen around with me.

*The netbook is a valuable tool for any writer, especially a mom who spends lots of time at different sports complexes. It's little and fits inside my bag. Have netbook, will travel.

*Outline and develop my characters back stories. I'm not a big outliner. I usually just sit down and let it ride, but already knowing I'm not going to have the time to hang out at the laptop all day makes me think I'll be doing more outlining so I won't forget where I was heading.

*Talk to myself - alright, I won't lie...I already do that. It's how I work out my dialogue. I have such interesting conversations with myself in the shower. Hey, whatever works, right?

I have a game plan and that will get me through the hustle and bustle of December. But, look out January because once the tree comes down, Ella Jade comes back out in full force. 2012 looks like it's going to be a really productive year!

I'll be back next month. Stay inspired and have a wonderful and safe Happy Holiday season! When you're a writer, remember...

Where there's a will, there's a way!









Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Gratitude Galore

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Thanksgiving is upon us! The turkey is dressed, the pies are baked, and families are flocking together to spend the day eating and shopping. But through all the full stomachs and "Black Friday" deals, it's good to pause and remember why we have this holiday in the first place.

To give thanks.

Sounds simple, right? But can you remember the last time you stopped and took the time to really count your blessings? Our lives are so busy these days, with day jobs, kids, spouses. We've become masters at multitasking in order to get everything done we need to. Conference calls at home while making dinner. Cramming in writing time while sitting in the doctor's office. Every single second of every day gets counted and used to its fullest extent.

So I know how difficult it can be to take a moment and just feel gratitude for everything you and your family have. Difficult because it forces you to think about what your life would be without these blessings. And that can be overwhelming to think about. But even the little things deserve recognition. The smile of a stranger when you need it. The words of a friend when you're down. The bad - yet funny - joke from a co-worker. These little things deserve gratitude just as much as the big ones, for they make each day different from the rest.

And it's so easy to get caught up in things this time of year, the whirlwind of the holidays. Through the gift giving and the big meals, we tend to forget the little things and breeze through the days until each one blends into the next. And before you know it,another year has passed.

So I ask that you always take a moment to give thanks, not just for the holiday, but every day. For every single day holds a blessing. All you have to do is stop and recognize it.

Have a Blessed and Wonderful Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The End

It’s been an odd couple of weeks. At the time of writing this I’m sitting at the day job, eating cereal and deciding that I don’t like raspberries. I’m eating breakfast, and it’s a healthy breakfast, I eat a lot of bad food but I’m trying to turn over a new leaf or in my case a whole tree.

The reason it’s been an odd couple of weeks is because I got my last set of edits for the ‘A Difficult Decision’ eshort series I’ve been working on for Echelon Press. Considering I’m still new to the whole publishing game, this has been a great little project to cut my teeth on.

Now the title of the post is ‘The End’, nope I’m not giving up on writing. I’ve got too many voices in my head that I’d go insane if I didn’t write their stories. The End is in reference to the last instalment and title of #6. I’ve been a published writer for about a year now, but I was an unpublished writer for a lot longer and I’ll tell you something, (whispers) I’ve never written an ending.

I don’t think I had much to worry about, until I started to write this instalment. Overall I had a short word count for each instalment, which meant I didn’t really have much wriggle room when writing the ending. Also I just wasn’t sure how I wanted to end up. Rachel is a genetic wolf, a person born with the ability to become an Alpha, as long as she’s bitten by another wolf. She’d gone through this quest to find her missing brother and this boy who has been helping her, is slowly changing from pain in the arse to something else. I won’t go into much detail since I don’t want to give away too many spoilers.

My question is; how do you write an ending? Do you have a set idea in your head about how your books or series are going to end?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Be Part of the Solution

Today's post isn't about writing, it's about kids and it's about life. If you're looking for writing, I'm sure that'll be back tomorrow or Monday. For today though, this matters more.

On Thursday, a news report came up on my twitter feed--another tale of suicide likely caused by bullying. This time it was a ten-year-old little girl from a small town in Illinois. Most of the time when tales of bullying come out, the victim was homosexual or something that people can look at and say "my kid's not". They are still angry over the bullying, but they feel like it won't ever happen to their kid.

Ashlynn Conner wasn't gay, and from what I can tell, she wasn't handicapped or special ed or any of those other things that make parents think this shit only happens to other kids. The bullying reportedly started when she got a short haircut and some other girls started calling her a boy. Regarding interviews with the kids reportedly involved, even the police said, "We haven't uncovered anything so severe that it would result in someone taking their own life."

Surprise, assholes, unless someone killed her, she did take her own life. People need to wake up and realize that all bullying is wrong. All bullying has the potential to kill.
Rest in Peace, Ashlynn.

I'm sitting her bawling while I try to write this. You see, once upon a time, I was a lot like that little girl. I was the one whose mom cut her hair short and wouldn't buy her the clothes that were in style. I was also the one who hit puberty early, which meant I developed way before my peers. I was the one who wasn't pretty or thin enough. Who was too tall and too smart. As much as I loved school, there were days I dreaded going because of the teasing and bullying. Had home schooling been an option back then, like Ashlynn, I might have begged for it.

I was one of the lucky ones. I made it through, but I will tell you, that little girl? The one who had every popular kid making fun of her for years? She's still inside me, and she still hurts. There is no real healing for long-term victims of bullying. Those scars last forever. So I'm lucky in that I'm still around to carry them. I'm still here to show my own kids that it is possible to come out the other side and be strong and happy. Because it does get better. But I'm also here to do my damnedest to make sure they don't give those kinds of scars to anyone else.

As parents, teachers... as human beings, we need to step up and start protecting all kids. And sometimes that's going to mean we have to punish the ones who live in our homes for their behavior. We don't get the option of writing it off as "kids'll be kids" because kids are dying.

Ashlynn Conner was smart. She was pretty. She wanted to "become a veterinarian because 'people hurt animals, and she wanted to protect them.'" That's the life that the bullies took this time. That's what all those girls are going to have to live with now--that they had a hand in killing her. Had the adults around them stood up and collectively said "No. This is not okay." and put a stop to it and punished the bullies, Ashlynn Conner would still be rescuing stray cats, and the others wouldn't have to live the rest of their lives with blood on their hands.

We're the adults. We need to be part of the solution.

(Read this now or later or never, but all quotes came from this article.)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Happy 20th Anniversary

A long time ago in a galaxy not quite so far away, I was given a set of books for my birthday. Thanks Dad! Little did you know how they would alter my life.

I’m going to back up just a touch. A year or so before this birthday (I remember the birthday vividly but I don’t actually remember how old I was) my dad discovered I’d never seen Star Wars. He was surprised and a little appalled… He promptly rented all three of them. That was back in the days of VHS and before the remastered versions came out. Then we set up the “movie” experience in my living room. That basically meant I got to eat dinner in the lazy chair that we pulled up in front of the TV. I proceeded to watch all three movies. I can’t remember if I watched them all at once or got through two of them and had to take a break, it was a while ago. Maybe even close to twenty years. I was hooked.

Now back to this birthday, and those books… Dad didn’t wrap my presents, he just put them in a bag. No big deal for me though. So they handed me my first gift, which was the VHS trilogy of the remastered Star Wars movies. I was thrilled. Then they handed me three books. I studied them, as I’m wont to do with books, noted the Star Wars big across the top of all of them, and was super excited. Those books were Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising, and The Last Command. (Looking at the dates of publication, it must have been 1994 or so. I was probably 13 or 14.)


I
still have those books. I love those books. They are still some of my favorite. Many of my favorite fictional characters stemmed from those books and Timothy Zahn is still my favorite author. I’ve read a ton of books since then, including a bazillion Star Wars books – but they still hold up as some of the best.

When I was in the bookstore the other day (Incidentally just a couple of days after my most recent birthday earlier this month) my boyfriend, the Irish Sailor, pointed out a hardback Star Wars book with a nice shiny silver cover and the words Heir to the Empire on it. I grabbed it of course and my hands almost started shaking – for several reasons. It was the 20th anniversary edition of a book that had literally changed my life, and I couldn’t believe it had been 20 years since it was published. That last bit kind of hurt my brain.

All else forgotten I sat down on the floor of the bookstore and started to read through the special introductions, the new novella, and the really interesting author/publisher notes in the margins of the book. I had to have it.

My copy arrived yesterday and I carried it around for a while, much like a kid does with a blanket, then I put it on my desk and gazed at it with tears in my eyes, then I carried it around a little more. I read the novella last night.

I’m a nerd, I know, but still… Books have the power to change lives… My first attempt at a real novel was set in the Star Wars universe. I had my own characters, but I used that huge setting. One of my all time favorite characters of my own (she’s making me say she is my favorite character ever, it’s true, I won’t deny it) started as a Star Wars character. I managed a few hyperspace accidents and brought her back to earth so I could actually write some of her stories too. I’m not sure I’d be on the writing path that I’m on without Star Wars and the ideas it has inspired.

So Happy Anniversary Heir to the Empire. Mr. Zahn, thank you for writing such an amazing book and propelling the Star Wars Universe into the written word.

Monday, November 14, 2011

What Am I the Queen of?


I'm the queen of procrastination. For those of you who models of self discipline and are unfamiliar with procrastination here's the definition ~ to put off intentionally and habitually. When I'm not growling like a polar bear because it's cold and snowy my favorite place to hide is the beach but currently the temperature is 30 degrees so that isn't working out. So as the queen I've come up with many clever inside ways to avoid the dreaded task whatever it may be so I thought I would share a few of my favorites:
(1) Looking for fun entertainment to make you smile before tackling whatever you're avoiding. Games – on facebook – the bubble witch saga. Hidden object games (HOGS for short) there are so many of these but Sherlock Holmes is by the far the best one out there.
(2) Want something a little more constructive to build the concentration before leaping into the work at hand? Since I'm a writer here's one that is fun and useful - http://seventhsanctum.com/index-char.php I can almost say this isn't a form of procrastination because, well, I need characters – right? Anyway, it makes a jumping off point especially for secondary characters. Here is one I generated for a creepy bus rider - This confident gentleman has slitted brown eyes that are like two tiger-eye gems. His fine, wavy, soot-black hair is long and is worn in a dignified, uncomplicated style. He is tall and has a graceful build. His skin is dark. He has prominent ears and thin eyebrows. His wardrobe is complicated and classy, with a lot of brown.
(3) Another 'useful' website that I send a lot time at for characters and also just to see what people do with their time - http://www.notsoboringlife.com/. It has over 200 hobbies listed with details. The hobbies include everything from cigar smoking to collecting James Bond toys to belly dancing.
Anyway, these are my top three ways of avoiding laundry, edits, or taking my dog for a walk. What are some of your favorite? Or maybe I should ask what are some of the ways you remain on track?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

How to Know You're Meant to Be An Author

One way to know you were meant to be an author is you go crazy like Daffy Duck  when you can't write on a story.  Ever watch the old Looney Tunes cartoons?  It's great having children, because now I have an excuse to keep watching them!  I love those shows.  In my normal state of being, I like to think of myself as the suave Bugs Bunny  totally on top of things and always whooping the bullies.  Take away my stories though and I go nuts!
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I remember going on a romantic stroll with my husband once.  A story popped into my head and I had to jot it down.  So, I whipped the tiny notebook out of my purse and discovered, to my horror, that my pen was missing!  I just about lost my mind!  My poor husband didn't have one.  I was like a junkie or something.  "We gotta stop in there and ask if I can borrow a pen now!  Now!"  We couldn't snag a pen anywhere and it was a half hour before we could get home and find one there.  What a nightmare.
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Actually, it's pathetic, I guess.
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But, that's one way to know.
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What other ways are there?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday News for Kimber An

Great Reviews for Sweet Bytes!
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Jen Gave It Four Stars
She said, "We also meet Victoria, The girl's Grandmother - who is also Empathy. And she is the Funniest - most awesome grandmother i have ever met :) Loved her! She's also set out to teach the girls everything she knows in order to survive their upcoming 18th birthday - it's the only way to get their lives back."  You don't have to be young to kick butt!
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Nayu Gave It a 10/10
She said, "I think it shows Kimber An's growth as a writer, because I couldn't find anything I wasn't keen on."  This is a fab compliment because I've known Nayu a long time and she's read all my published stuff.  We reviewed together at Enduring Romance and I learned from the author/mentors that all the best storytellers never stop trying to learn.
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Thanks, Ladies!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Selfish Writer: Or Why Making Yourself Happy Makes Readers Happy

Are you a selfish writer? By that I mean, are you genuinely happy when you write? Is what entertains you what in turn motivates you to…

·        Tell a good story?
·        Spin a great plot twist?
·        Delight in a really evil character?
·        Have fun with your dialogue?
·        Fill a world with passion and creativity?

It can be hard to be “selfish” when we write because there is a fine line, I think, between being self-indulgent – which readers rarely enjoy – and being genuinely selfish, or writing for oneself first.

I try never to be a self-indulgent writer, writing ONLY for myself, but in the past I’ve been very guilty of trying to please others BEFORE myself. My first book I kind of wrote to make my agent happy, my second book I kind of wrote to make the readers of my first book happy, and so on.

But lately I’ve been a smidge more selfish in my writing. I’m less concerned with what “they” might think and more concerned about what “I” think. Which isn’t to say I’m trying to shun my audience, bore them or ignore them, but instead I’m trying to guide them a little more forcefully.

And, really, isn't that our job? To do the thinking for our audience? To make them think this guy's the baddie when, all along, it's been... her? Isn't that kind of what they're paying for?

In the end, you know your story best. You’re the ones most familiar with your characters, with the world you’ve created, with the tension you’ve built and the relationships you’ve forged. Part of becoming a better writer, for me, is learning to trust myself more – to be more selfish – when it comes to making choices in my writing.

I’m tired of wondering if something my characters says will be politically correct, or if a way I’ve described one of my character’s skin color might offend some readers, or if the “cool kids” – or even the reviewers – will like it.

These days I’m more interested in telling a better story, unfiltered and headlong, and in turn I’ve been having a LOT of fun writing my last few projects. Not that I didn’t enjoy my first few, but I think as we learn we grow, and as we grow we evolve and I think I’m enjoying a little of that process right about now.

And I hope that, as I have fun with my writing, as I begin to enjoy my characters more, trust them more and trust my own choices more, that the readers will as well.

Case in point: I picked up a few cozy mysteries over Halloween. I like those, when done well. These were Halloween-themed, and I swear I couldn’t get past the first 20 pages in any of them. They just all seemed so formulaic, so rote, like the publisher called the writer over the summer and said, “Hey, listen, we’d like to move some units over Halloween. Can you whip us up a story real quick?”

I dunno, to me I could almost feel the work the writer was doing on every page and, well, I get enough of that at home. The books I’ve enjoyed most, whether they were serious nonfiction, or sappy romance, or murder mystery or police procedural or dystopian YA, were the ones where I got lost right away in what was happening on the page.

Where I wasn’t thinking about anything else going on in my life but what might happen next. When the writer was in complete control of the story from the first word and led me on a journey that was better than expected.

Anyway, those are my thoughts for this week. I feel like I’m rambling a little, but you know what I mean: I know writing can’t always be fun, and I know we can’t ONLY make choices for ourselves, but in the perfect world, we can smile when we think about our WIP and really dig into it, knowing that, if nobody else enjoys it, at least we will!

Yours in YA,

Rusty

Monday, November 7, 2011

I Can Feel Her...

As some of you might know, I also do adult writing. For the longest time, I tried to make Rachel's story happen as an adult story. I must have rewritten it a half-a-dozen times. But, she was, ultimately, a teenager and I am so excited by her journey.

For some time now, I have been writing one of my adult series. I love it and it's going well. But, I can feel Rachel in there. She is bothering me. Its time for me to get started.

Does this happen to you? Do you just feel compelled to write again, like you must answer the need?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Writing YA Today


"What is a chode?" I asked this question of my sixteen year old daughter, when I heard her and her friend laughing at the new nickname they'd given one of their male friends. When she told me, I was honestly surprised; mostly because she actually knew what a chode was, and then I felt another grey hair spring forth. Am I really that old?

Writing a YA series has been a great learning and growing experience, but it had also been very challenging to walk the line between what's appealing and relating to today's teens, while keeping them engaged without crossing over into adult. I've read many YA paranormal romance and some authors are much better at this than others. The way I see it, in this day and age, the YA audience could probably teach me a thing or two, so I'm not as worried about writing conservatively as I am about writing a great story, with real dialogue and real life issues.

My goal has always been that the YA audience will identify with my characters. They're not perfect--some of them curse, use alcohol and drugs, have premarital sex, and generally make many of the same mistakes our teens today make. But one message comes through strong in my paranormal romance Until Darkness Comes, and that's the power of love and forgiveness.

Hope you all have a great Saturday. I'd love to hear what you think about writing YA today :)

Melynda Price

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Halloween Treat

Halloween was pretty much rained out in these parts and we've got a ton of candy left--not that I'm complaining, mind you. I thought I'd share the treat I gave out as part of the trick or treat blog hop I participated in.

My treat is a free short story (Pdf format)called SATANSTORM

The members of the metal band Satanstorm have been trying to put their days as child singing sensations “Band of brothers” behind them. They hope their next video will propel them to the top. All they need is the right spooky place to film it…




If you'd like a copy Click Here to pop on over to the handy dandy form on my site and drop me a line.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Bianca Bags a Vamp

This is a short, short, ever so short story by Kimber An featuring Bianca, the twin sister of the heroine of my Ophelia Dawson stories.
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This is the pattern Bianca used to create their matching costumes, as she is an accomplished seamstress.   http://www.simplicity.com/p-1951-costumes.aspx

***

Ophelia parted the dangling orange and black crepe paper streamers as she stepped through the gym’s doorway with her twin sister.  The Thriller pounded through her skull.

              “Wait, you’re hung up.”  Bianca untangled some of the streamers from her filmy white wings.

              “Fairy princesses.”  Ophelia folded her arms and glared at the monster mash on the dance floor.  “I can’t believe you talked me into fairy princesses.”  She fixed the green antennae tilting to one side among her sister’s swirled red hair.

              “Don’t you get irony when it smacks you in the face?”

              “I hate you.”

              “I hate you more.”  Ophelia felt a surge of evil and clasped her sister’s hand.  “Feel that?”

              Bianca drew a deep breath and closed her eyes briefly.  She was still getting used to her empathic senses, but there was no mistaking the presence among the Regular humans.  “Oooh, shhh…”

              Ophelia clapped a hand over her sister’s mouth before the naughty word could get out.  It was habit, even when their devoutly Catholic mother wasn’t around.

              Bianca shoved her hand away.  “Don’t we ever get a night off?”

              “Come on.”  Ophelia groaned and dug her hand into her purse.  “Let’s just clean house, so we can party.”

              “Fine.  You packing heat?”

              “Souped-up iPhone.  What do you got?”  Ophelia held it aloft.

              “Holy Water breath spray.”  Bianca tapped it against the phone.  “Not only will the Blood-Sucking Dead Guys get fried, they’ll also be minty-fresh!”

              “Ooh, nice touch.”  Ophelia saw the red eyes approaching through the crowded dance floor, like little pinlights.  “Four Mallies and one Bennie.”

              “I call the Bennie.  He’s got a nice butt.”  Bianca purred over her shoulder, watching a tall boy pretending to sip punch in the far corner, his back turned to them.  Maybe he dined on the red stuff, but he was all goodness and light.  “Dang.”  Her lips curled.

              “Fine, but try to keep your hormones together until we’re done with the Mallies.”  Ophelia flipped open her iPhone and started tapping the secret code.  “You ready?”

              “As I’ll ever be.”  Bianca made snarling come-on at the Bennie as he looked their way.

              “Oh, good grief.  Better warn lover-boy over there.”

              Hey, Snookums, put your fingers in your ears.  Bianca kissed the air in the Bennie’s direction.

              He picked up on the telepathic communication.  Huh?

              Hello?  I’m a Borean Empath.  Just do what I say.

              Surprise washed over his adorable face.  Borean Empath?  He set down his drink and plugged his ears.

              “I can’t believe you’re name-dropping to snag a guy.”  Ophelia groaned, for she knew how enticing empaths could be to telepathic vampires.

              “Whatever works.”  Bianca snickered.

              Ophelia pressed her finger hard into the keypad.

              Instantly, a high-pitched sound  out of human range pierced the Malevolent Vampires’ senses and the dropped to floor, screaming.

              Bianca’s laughter came up like bubbles as the blood-suckers flipped themselves and fled the Halloween Dance.

              “Aww,” said Ophelia, nodding to her sister’s Holy Water breath spray.  “You didn’t get to use your thingamajig and you’ve been working on it all week.”

              “That’s okay.”  Bianca stuffed it back in her purse.  “I have other ways of bagging a vamp.” 

              Ophelia watched her sister swagger through the dancers, flirty skirt swaying with her hips, to the Benevolent Vampire and pull his fingers from his ears.  She smirked.  “You sure do, sister.”
***
Happy Halloween, Fall Fesitval, or whatever you celebrate this time of year!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

One Horrific Summer...

So, I've always been a big fan of books. I can't even remember NOT knowing how to read. I wore out my library card, and always had more books than would fit on the shelf in my room.

But 25 years ago, there were only so many young adult books available. Judy Blume, Nancy Drew, Sweet Valley High - these are what I read the most of because that's what girls my age were supposed to be reading. And there's nothing wrong with those books, it's just that, well, I craved...MORE.

Every summer I would spend a few weeks at my aunt and uncle's house. They were book lovers as well, and truthfully, passed that passion on to me through many a trip to the library or out of the way bookstore. They had loads of books at their house, so one summer, I decided I was going to read some grown-up books.

What did I pick to start with? Salem's Lot by Stephen King. Probably not the best choice for a 12 year old, but I was determined and could not be swayed.

The book scared the crap out of me.

I was mesmerized, and read it all in one day. I read until my eyeballs felt like they would pop out of my head and every noise that house made was a vampire about to get me. I was frightened and exhilarated, and...couldn't wait to read the next one.

Thus began my love affair with horror and the paranormal. I became obsessed, and that summer I also read Cujo, Carrie, Christine, and Firestarter. The world of horror and the paranormal opened up and swallowed me whole. Something about finding fear in the everyday or that there's more to this life than we know totally appealed to 12 year old me and made my imagination take flight.

That's when I really started writing my own stories, filling notebook after notebook, all the while devouring books like a person starved. I specifically became obsessed with vampires, and to this day have one bookcase in my house devoted entirely to vampire fiction.

I owe that "horrific" summer the credit for steering me onto this path of a writer, showing me so much more than I could ever have imagined. Books are and always will be what sustains me. And I pray they continue to inspire and entertain generations to come.

Who knows? Maybe even one of my stories will spark a light in another 12 year old...

All I can do is hope!

Happy Reading!