Thursday, November 22, 2012

Exciting Announcement

Not long now before my short story, Birthright, will be published in Make Believe and released into the big wide world on 3rd December. So exciting!!

A couple of early reviews have already trickled in and I’m thrilled to say they are all positive. One that was specific to my story brought on a massive smile and a happy dance in the middle of the room:
“…the enigmatic Jack really takes the spotlight. His enthusiasm for his museum and Christa is exciting. I could easily read a novel-length version of this piece.” Danielle Villano. 
Pop on over to Danielle's blog at The Reader’s Commute for a full review of all the stories.

Make Believe Blog Tour
I’ve finally posted the Make Believe Blog Tour list.
You can see it in all its glory on my Blog Tour tab HERE

A huge thank you to everyone who has generously given their time and enthusiasm for celebrating this event, and sharing the news. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: You are all so awesome.

Unfortunately I won’t have internet access for a week before the launch, so this is my last post before the anthology’s launch. Eek! Consequently I’d like to send out a special thanks to all who have already signed up to celebrate the release on launch day, 3rd December. Extra virtual cake for you! And MORE!

Announcement: I'd like to GIVEAWAY an ebook copy of Make Believe to one lucky person who has signed up and helps spread the word about Make Believe on Launch day (I'll also include those signed up for the Blog Tour). I'll draw a name from a sparkly hat and announce the winner on 5th December*

Note: In case of late sign-up, or I can’t get an email out to you in time, everything you’ll need for launch day should be on my Make Believe Tab.

*If you haven’t signed up for launch day celebrations and would like to, there's still time and I'll enter you into the giveaway. Please sign up below.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Are You Too Busy Being a Writer to Write?

There is so much a writer needs to do to achieve a successful writing career. We need to network, research, market, critique, edit, mentor, go to workshops, attend conventions, listen to seminars, learn the craft, pitch, blog, tweet, Facebook, email, query, promote, read.

Oh, and write. Don't forget the writing.

The problem is we do forget to write. It gets buried under all the other stuff. It gets shoved away and pushed aside, dropping to the bottom of our list of priorities.

There is only one answer: We need to remember to write. This might sound easy, but it means recalling our passion for the craft, practising discipline, and making the time to write. Our writing sessions don't have to go on for hours so long as we write. 

There is nothing more important to our writing career than our writing.

Are you too busy being a writer to write? What holds you back? What helps you to remember?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

How to Gain Quality Feedback from Your Critique Partners

In my last post, I covered How to Pick a Good Critique Partner. Today I will cover what to do next to gain quality feedback from that partner, communication being the key factor:

Be specific about the kind of feedback you want. State what you want and when you want it, and be as clear as possible. This is important because if you give your critique partners little-to-no direction, then their comments will likely reflect this. For example, if you’re uncertain about your dialogue, then ask them if your dialogue works. You could even ask something as vague as, ‘I know something isn’t working in this scene, but I don’t know what it might be’. Note: don’t ask for your partners to look for too many things. A giant list of questions about your work will only overwhelm them.

State the genre and the target market. Don’t let your critique partners go in blind when you hand over your manuscript. It’s important they know what genre and market you are aiming for. What may work for a crime novel, may not work for a fantasy. Likewise, what may work for adult fiction, may not work for young adult. Knowing these details about your story will help your critique partners focus their comments.

Be specific about when you want the feedback. Be sure to give your critique partners plenty of time to go through your manuscript without rushing. However, without setting a finish date, you could be waiting a long time.

Nurture open communication. This is so you can easily clarify any comments your critique partners make. A relationship between writer and critiquer is far stronger if both parties feel comfortable with each other. There’ll be a better chance of gaining truthful comments, not comments the critiquer thinks the writer wants to hear.

Use more than one critique partner. Three critique partners will give you a clearer overview of your work than just one. What one person doesn’t like in your manuscript, two others may love. When there is a conflict in the feedback, I tend to go with the majority.

Approach your feedback with an open mind. Sometimes writers won’t recognize fantastic feedback because deep down they don’t want to hear their baby needs more work. While critiques are simply opinions, if you’ve picked your partners well, then most of those opinions will be educated. It’s worth listening to them. This doesn’t mean you should treat those opinions or suggestions like the law. Weigh everything you hear and then decide for yourself whether you agree, but do it with an open mind.

Do you struggle to get helpful feedback?

J Taylor Publishing is giving away five copies of the Make Believe anthology. If you'd like to hop on over for a chance at a copy, then click HERE! But be quick because the offer ends on November 16, 2012 at 5:00 pm Eastern Time

Monday, November 12, 2012

How to Pick a Good Critique Partner

This post is not so much on how to find critique partners. Finding them is easy, but picking good ones is a lot harder. Finding a partner who can give you the kind of feedback you need for your manuscript is just as elusive as trying to find that perfect cup of coffee (or, in my case, that perfect hot chocolate). Everyone’s tastes are different, everyone’s needs are different. You have to find the one that suits you, which means you need to be mindful in the choosing process:

Pick someone who can give you the type of feedback you want. Firstly, this requires knowing what you want. If you want professional level feedback, then it’s best not to go to your family or friends—unless, of course, they have industry experience. If you want feedback that’s mostly encouragement, then it’s best not to go to a busy editor. You need to pick a partner with the appropriate skill level for your needs.

Pick someone with critiquing experience. Sure, everyone has an opinion on what they like and don’t like, but not everyone has the skill to be able to communicate that in a helpful way. For example, knowing what works in the manuscript is just as important as knowing what doesn’t work. This balanced feedback is the best kind.

Pick someone you can trust. If you can’t trust your critique partner, or you’re not comfortable talking openly and honestly about your work, then you’ve wasted everyone’s time, including your own. You’ll need to find someone whose feedback you can trust on a personal and professional level.

Pick someone who understands your genre. This doesn’t necessarily mean only pick writers who also write in the same genre. I’ve found writers of different genres often approach my manuscripts with a fresh eye. However, a certain level of understanding of your genre is necessary for quality feedback since every genre has certain expectations within them that should be met.

Pick someone who likes your genre. Not everyone likes all genres. If you find a critique partner who is a great critiquer but doesn’t enjoy reading your type of stories, then you’ll be less likely to get good feedback, and less likely to hold on to them for long. They may even terminate the job midway through.

Pick someone with good time management skills. Otherwise you could be waiting a long time for any feedback.

My next post will be How to Gain Quality Feedback from Your Critique Partners.

What are the qualities of your favourite critique partners? Without naming names, have you had any bad experiences with critique partners?

A New Adult Urban Fantasy with a contemporary sci-fi twist, The Renaissance of Hetty Locklear is the first book in a new series written by M. Pax. And it’s now out!

Graduation from community college isn’t the magic elixir Hetty Locklear counts on for becoming an adult. Her parents, who work the Renaissance fair circuit, insist she spend part of the summer with them. Hetty doubts pretending to live in the Middle Ages will help her find her way.

To make it worse, an entity haunts her at her dead-end job, warning her of a dangerous man she doesn’t know. The ghost leads her to a lover who has a lot of secrets. He pulls her farther into peril and into a strange, hidden world of genetic experimentation.

Available as an ebook at Amazon / Amazon UK / Smashwords / iTunes / Kobo
Visit for more links.

M. Pax is celebrating her latest release with a jousting tournament and contest at Cheer for the knights to help them win the grand prize, and you’ll be put in a drawing to win an ebook copy of The Renaissance of Hetty Locklear. Five will be given away. Huzzah!

Kyra Lennon's Blindsided is also now available on kindle at Amazon. Her exciting blog tour for this book will be November 26th to December 7th.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Guest Post: Third Person vs. First Person

Please welcome Emi Gayle, author of the great young adult paranormal romance, After Dark. Take it away, Emi!

Third person vs. 1st person ... that is the question.

Does it really have to be one or the other?

Sure, in the real world, a single book is written in a single person - either 1st, 2nd or 3rd, though 2nd is not used nearly as much as 1st or 3rd.

And by reader-base, there seems to be a mix. I’ve seen crime novels in 1st, YA books in 3rd and romance in both. Some have said romance should always be 3rd, but who are they to say?

In reality, a writer writes what they are comfortable with ... what they engage with themselves. I love 3rd person books. I read them, so I write them. But I also love 1st person books ... I read them so I write them too.

From a marketing perspective, though, I’m told that readers don’t like it when a writer they come to love shifts person ... so someone who typically writers 3rd, writing 1st is ‘just plain weird’. Vice versa applies, too.

How then can someone who loves both fulfill both needs and preferences?

Well, like me! I write 1st person for the YA crowd and my atler-ego writes 3rd person for the adult crowd. Yep, the best of both worlds. This is why After Dark is writting in 1st person - because it’s for the YA crowd.

Though the switch back and forth is not easy. The nuances of writing each are very different -- almost taxing a part of the brain some of us would rather not do.

Like in 3rd person, I can switch to another person’s perspective to show off part of the story. In 1st person, I have to stick to the one person who’s telling the story. In 3rd, there’s omniscient opportunities (though I personally don’t like these) where as in 1st, the reader can only know what the speaking character knows. See? Nuances.

That, though, makes the challenge of writing a good book even more fun. If you’re competitive like me, this is the perfect way to stretch those mental muscles and learn to write in multiple ways.

Try it sometime. You might find that you like writing in both and that depending on the story, the ‘person’ really fits.

Book details:
What eighteen year old Mac Thorne doesn’t know will probably kill her.

In exactly eight months, five days, three hours and thirteen minutes, Mac has to choose what she’ll be for the rest of her life.

She has no choice but to pick. As a Changeling, it’s her birthright. To Mac, it’s a birthchore. Like going to school with humans, interacting with humans, and pretending to be human during the pesky daylight hours.

Once darkness descends, Mac can change into any supernatural form that exists — which makes her as happy as she can be. That is, until Winn Thomas, the biggest geek in her senior class figures out there’s more to what hides in the dark than most are willing to acknowledge.

In this first of the 19th Year Trilogy, Winn might know more about Mac than even she does, and that knowledge could end their lives, unless Mac ensures the powers-that-be have no choice but to keep him around.

Winn and Mac were perfect for each other in every way possible. It was like two magnets finally finding each other and connecting.” — Good Choice Reading

Awesome beyond awesome! For lovers of YA Paranormal, this is a MUST READ!!!” — Romancing the Book

Talk about can't put down...I accidentally opened this one instead of the book I was scheduled to read. Made the mistake of reading the first paragraph -- and I have not been able to put my iPad down since!” — Parajunkee


Buy links:
Barnes and Noble

Author details:
Emi Gayle just wants to be young again. She lives vicariously through her youthful characters, while simultaneously acting as chief-Mom to her teenaged son and searching for a way to keep her two daughters from ever reaching the dreaded teen years.

Ironically, those years were some of Emi's favorite times. She met the man of her dreams at 14, was engaged to him at 19, married him at 20 and she's still in love with him to this day. She'll never forget what it was like to fall in love at such a young age — emotions she wants everyone to feel.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Some Tips I learned from Genre Con 2012 #gcoz

Over the weekend I attended Genre Con, a three day convention for Australian fans and professionals working within the fields of romance, mystery, science fiction, crime, fantasy, horror, and more. I met so many aspiring authors, established authors, agents, editors and other industry professionals. I had a brilliant time. Below are some highlights:

Peter Ball stressed the importance of having defined goals for your writing career, preferably developing a five year plan.

Alex Adsett, consultant and literary agent, spoke about contracts in the digital age, including great information on copyright laws and royalties.

I attended a panel of editors and publishers including, Jodi Cleghorn, Sarah JH Fletcher, Bernadette Foley and Irina Dunn. They spoke about many things including how editing should be approached as a discussion between two people about a piece of work. Also of note, they discussed how sometimes aspiring writers ask for professional level feedback from friends and family. They gave suggestions on how best to get quality feedback.

International guest, Joe Abercrombie, author of many dark fantasy novels including the First Law trilogy and his latest standalone, Red Country, spoke about how it’s important to find something you’re passionate about. If you are bored, then how can you expect anyone else to get excited about your work?

Ginger Clark, New York agent with Curtis Brown LTD, had a fantastic talk about the future of agenting, the role of an agent, and how it’s changed so much in the last few years. Tip: publishers want books more polished because they no longer have as much time to develop them. So, authors, don’t get complacent and think, 'near enough is good enough'. Make sure your manuscript is the best it can be before you send it off.

There were other fantastic workshops and panels, for example, the three stages of a writers career, practical worldbuilding, how to develop your author platform, and much more. The weekend finished with a hilarious debate, Plotters vs Pantsers.

I came away inspired, excited, and exhausted all at once. Meeting so many people in the industry was such a buzz. This weekend reminded me how important it is to connect with other writers and industry professionals. If you haven’t gone to a convention before, then my advice is do it!

Have you ever been to a convention? If not, what’s holding you back? What’s the best thing about the conventions you’ve attended?

This post was written for the Insecure Writers’ Support Group. This group is the brain child of Alex J. Cavanaugh. We post every first Wednesday of the month (I love to be a rebel).

Note: I made the list Masters in English published recognising the Top 25 Reading and Writing Resources for English Buffs.

Thanks: A huge thanks to Alison Stuart. I won a generous prize pack from this lovely author.

Make Believe: A HUGE thank you to those who have already put their name down to help me celebrate the launch of the Make Believe anthology on December 3rd. You are AWESOME!!! I have placed the list on my Make Believe Tab found HERE. There's still time to add your name. There will be cake.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Why it’s Good to Embrace Distractions

Distractions are a writer’s best excuse to avoid the scene that’s causing trouble, the editing that’s causing frustration, the character who won’t do what he’s supposed to do. Because of this, we tend to treat distractions as a bad thing. We beat ourselves up over not remaining focussed on our writing.

However, distractions can be good for the creative mind because, if we are more open to them and view them more as opportunities, then we can gain so much more from the experience.

Distractions can be serendipitous events that inspire us to take a different route in the plot.They can trigger whole new ideas for stories, they can give us a deeper understanding of the world around us.

Distractions can give us a new experience from which to draw.

Note: We still need to be wary of the Solitaire distractions, the internet distractions, the ones where we say we’ll just spend five minutes check our email and an hour later we’re still there.

Do you get impatient with distractions? What’s your greatest distraction?

My short story, Birthright, will be published in the Make Believe anthology in a month! Eek! My goodness, that came up fast. I’m super excited and would love to celebrate the launch with all my friends. If you’d like to join me on 3rd December, launch day, and share the exciting news, please sign up below.

Flower Photo: I took this photo of my newest addition in the garden. Does it make a nice distraction? ;)