writing

Congratulations! You’ve received a bad review🎉

  
Bad reviews… every single writer in the world has them. 

Except me. 

Let me preface this by saying I don’t have a ton of reviews for my first series–a very modest amount in fact–but what I do have are positive, uplifting, and everything you want to hear about when you read that someone enjoyed your book. However, because my genre isn’t the hot market right now, I thought…why not see if I can figure out a paranormal series? I’d had an idea brewing for a while and my desire to get ‘in the game’ spurred it on. Pretty soon, I was loving my characters and my story. I knew I had a winner. My editor gets it, loves it. Same with my beta readers. I am on Cloud Nine sending to reviewers believing we are going straight to #1. 

Until yesterday. 

I received not one, but TWO two star reviews, and for a good twenty-four hour timeframe all my literary dreams came crashing around me. 

Questioning my ability as a writer is nothing new. Every writer I know has been talked down from the ledge of tossing their computer to its death more than once, but yesterday it felt different. It was different. Because up until now, everybody has liked my stories. 

And now someone doesn’t. Two someone’s actually. 

After much crying to my very supportive friends and family, I’ve come to the conclusion that bad reviews are impossible to avoid. They are a rite of passage for all authors. They shouldn’t be feared, but embraced as a part of living out our dreams because to truly live, you have to take the good with the bad. To avoid less than three star reviews, I would have to give up the only thing that’s ever meant anything to me, and that’s just not a life I’m willing to live. 

So what am I going to do?
 Take a deep breath. Maybe eat a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food. Possibly read a few of J.K. Rowling’s rejection letters, or Charles Dickens’ one star reviews… and… keep writing.

Always keep writing. 

For Your Reading Pleasure…Tara Benham

  

Tara Benham is with us today. Let’s read about her writing process. 

1. Tell us about yourself. May include links to Facebook, twitter, blogs, websites, Amazon author page)
Hi!! I’m Tara Benham. I’m an Occupational Therapist, photographer and author. I have a fur baby and live in Kentucky. I have creative ADD, (as well as regular ADD) which can be spotted in my works. My first book was YA sci-fi/suspense but my WIP is YA paranormal. 

http://www.facebook.com/TaraBenhamAuthor
Link for my book 
http://www.amazon.com/At-Nights-End-Tara-Benham-ebook/dp/B015HXP5WM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1442580645&sr=8-1&keywords=tara+benham

2. How do you choose names for your characters?

Most of the time my characters choose their names. With “At Night’s End” I had McCaid and Ever’s names before I even had a story. 

3. Do you talk about your book/characters as though they are real?

You mean they’re not? Kidding. Yes. I do talk about them as if they were real. 

4. Do you listen to music when you write or edit? What kind?

I listen to music even when I’m not writing. It is my muse. I listen to all kinds of music. However when I’m writing it’s usually Imagine Dragons, X Ambassadors, or Hollywood Undead. They really help with setting the mood for me. 

5. How long have you been writing?

I’ve wrote on and off for as long as I can remember but I got serious about it in 2011 when I started At Night’s End. 

6. Tell us about when you realized you were ‘meant to be’ a writer.

There are still some days I’m unsure if I’m meant to be a writer. I love to write though so I will continue even if it’s just for myself. 

7. Do you have a muse?

Imagine Dragons. 

8. How do you improve as a writer? (Workshops, conferences, reading)

I attend UtopYa Con (now Utopia) this past June. It felt like finding home. I was surrounding by people who got me. It was very motivational and educational. 

9. Writing quirks or superstitions?

My characters talk to me, and I talk to my computer or them as I write. I suppose that is a quirk? No superstitions though.

10. Tell us about your current work-in-progress.

My current WIP is titled “Falling” it’s the first in The Soul Collector’s Series. It’s about Bayla who is a soul collecting angel. In the first book, she is beginning her newest rescue mission.  

11. What book are you reading now?

It’s really hard for me to read when I’m writing. I’m always afraid the other authors idea’s or voice will bleed into my story. 
12. What genre do you write in? What about POV?

I write YA and usually in first person. It flows better for me. 

13. Tell us about writing preparation. Character Profiles? Outlines?

I’m a total Pantser (fly by the seat of my pants) writer. I have no preparations, profiles or outlines. Just a general idea of the plot line. 

14. Do you know how your stories will end?

Usually I do, however sometimes my characters act up and change things on me. It happened with the Falling book recently. I find it fun and exciting for the most part. 

15. Do your books have a message or theme? Or are they purely for entertainment?

If there’s a message or theme it’s purely accidental. I usually write for entertainment. 

16. Do you have any favorite snacks or drinks that you eat/drink while writing?

I’m obsessed with coffee and Sunkist. 

17. Tell us about your other passions.

I love reading when I’m not writing. I also own a photography business that I love doing. It gives me a different creative outlet. 

18. What’s something interesting about you?

My A&P teacher was the kid from The Shining. 

19. Share a small sample(limit to one paragraph, please) of your writing… can be a WIP or already published.

From Falling 
Dinner was a fun event, Hannah joined us during her break. It was a nice distraction from my thoughts as we sat around the table at the café having fun, and laughing. Declan turned the charm on full blast, regaling us with his adventures of his travels. Whether they were stories made up for his part he was playing or if they were true, they were funny. He was in the middle of telling us about getting lost in a country that he wasn’t familiar with the language, and after some confusion, was able to procure a bed for the evening. He proceeded to explain that because of the lack of communication, he ended up sharing a bed with a little old lady, who thought he was sent as an answer to his prayers, and he spend the majority of the night fighting off her advances, or hiding in the bathroom of the hostel. We were in tears by the time he finished his story. Hannah had spit water everywhere, and Mr. Whitstock almost fell off his chair. Declan chuckled some at his story, but mostly he looked amused at his ability to make the four of us laugh so hard. We were just calming down when Gray headed our way for his break. Hannah gathered herself, and waved bye as she went back to work. Gray took her seat.

20. Anything you’d like to say to your current and future readers?

I love books that create worlds that allow you to escape. Even if just for a moment. I truly hope that I can provide that to you all with my books. Thank you for your support!!!

For Your Reading Pleasure…Shantella Benson

  
Today’s feature is Shantella Benson. We’re glad to have her today! 

1. Tell us about yourself. May include links to Facebook, twitter, blogs, websites, Amazon author page) I’m a debut author. The first book in my Dystopian trilogy releases March 2016. After that, I will be published in the DC Anthologies, a five book anthology by group of eager and inspired authors who met at UtopYA 2015 (now called Utopia). I have two paranormal short stories in two different books. 

I also have a book blog called The WordSmithe at thewordsmithe.wordpress.com. I review books that inspire my writing—mostly YA and NA Dystopian/scifi, paranormal, and urban fantasy. I even will review Contemporary Romance. The only genre I won’t review on my blog is erotica. I’m not opposed to reading it. I’m just thinking of my audience which does include teens.

2. How do you choose names for your characters? I have a few websites I frequent for names. In my trilogy, The Alliance Chronicles, the main characters are ethnically diverse. In their society, multicultural people are known as Hybrids and their names usually reflect their ethnicities. The male main character is Zared Aoki, a Hybrid of Indian and Korean heritage. The female main character’s parents wanted to hide her Hybrid status, but her name (Truly Shara Shepard) has a special meaning in the story.

3. Do you talk about your book/characters as though they are real? Of course, doesn’t all writers?

4. Do you listen to music when you write or edit? What kind? Yes! I actually create playlists on Spotify. Each book in the trilogy has its own list (Regress, Rescue and Restore). I also have a playlist for paranormal writing and one for my urban fantasy. 

I like to choose music with lyrics that mean something to the story. They may set a scene (intimacy, loss, challenge) or simply put me in the mood for writing a certain character (Eminem when I’m writing about Zared, for instance).

5. How long have you been writing? I have been writing on and off for years. A year ago, however, I got serious and decided to participate in NaNoWriMo. I wrote the rough draft for Regress: The Alliance Chronicles Book One.

6. Tell us about when you realized you were ‘meant to be’ a writer. This happened recently when I started world building for my urban fantasy. I enjoyed creating maps, doing research, and creating a Pinterest board for the project. I realized this was something I used to do as a kid writing stories. Back then, I clipped pictures of possible characters from magazines and catalogs. I took cardboard and created maps. I even took pictures from decorating magazines to create scenes.

7. Do you have a muse? Yes, and she can be quite temperamental. I tried to plot the second book in the trilogy. She let me write about 6,000 words and then shut up. When I put the carefully crafted plot to the side and returned to my pantser ways, she spoke again. Lesson learned.

8. How do you improve as a writer? (Workshops, conferences, reading) All of the above. I attended my very first conference, UtopYA Con, back in June. It was phenomenal. I participated in workshops/panels and learned a lot. I also picked up a critique partner from that convention. She has helped me immensely. I learned what my writing was lacking, and it has been a delightful journey with her.

9. Writing quirks or superstitions? Not yet. My husband may beg to differ, though.

10. Tell us about your current work-in-progress. I actually have a few things I’m working on. It’s the great thing about writing. It feeds my need to stay busy. I just finished the rough draft for book two in the trilogy, Rescue: The Alliance Chronicles Book Two. I’ll be writing the rough draft for my urban fantasy during NaNoWriMo. It’s based off the folk tale called The Raven by the Brothers Grimm. In their tale, there’s a young child who is turned into a raven because she was bothering her mother. In my story, the girl was transformed into a raven to protect her identity from a demon uncle who wanted her dead. There are shapeshifters and portals into another world.

 
11. What book are you reading now? I’m reading a few at the moment: Forsaken by J.D. Barker, Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray and Secrets by Christina Benjamin.

12. What genre do you write in? What about POV? Dystopian and Paranormal/Urban Fantasy. I love first person POV.

13. Tell us about writing preparation. Character Profiles? Outlines? Believe it not, the sparks to my writing prep usually start in the shower. I get an idea in my head and I kind of flesh it out in the shower. Once I get an idea, I start imagining characters. I like to do the secret boards on Pinterest. I’ll pin images of the characters and scene ideas. 

I don’t really outline. I write out a story premise. For the trilogy, I created propaganda quotes to begin each chapter. So, I decided how many quotes I wanted and that determined, roughly, how many chapters were in the book. For the Urban Fantasy, I just started writing scenes as they came to me.

For the short stories, I used the same process, but I had to determine Beginning, Middle and End. I had to adhere to that structure more closely to stay within the word count required.

14. Do you know how your stories will end? With the short stories most definitely. With the trilogy and even the Urban Fantasy, I listen to my characters. With the rough draft I just completed, I didn’t know how to end it until a few days ago.

15. Do your books have a message or theme? Or are they purely for entertainment? There’s a message in the trilogy. Right now, the Urban Fantasy is just entertainment. Oh, and there’s a theme for the short stories.

16. Do you have any favorite snacks or drinks that you eat/drink while writing? I love Welch’s Fruit Snacks, but I need to eat healthier. So, I gave them up. It’s hard. Now, I’ll reach for some microwave popcorn (not the same pleasure). If I’m not guzzling water, I have a glass of wine for the evening writing session.

17. Tell us about your other passions. I love tv marathon sessions! I also enjoy acrylic painting, sewing and discovering new crafts.

18. What’s something interesting about you? I’ve worked in a variety of industries—tv news, community newspaper, veterinary medicine, video duplication, computer software development—just to name a few. I also use to groom Samoyeds for dog shows. We owned three Samoyeds, one was a show dog.

19. Share a small sample(limit to one paragraph, please) of your writing… can be a WIP or already published. 

This is the opening paragraph from Regress: The Alliance Chronicles Book One.

Someone once compared living in New Detroit to having a religion. It was a fanciful idea about living a life full of hope despite the presence of tragedy. Illogical. Irrational. Life in my town required a lot more than hope. It required a blind eye shutting out the ever-present insanity on our streets. It helped if you could block out the scars from our wars. Fortitude was a better word.

20. Anything you’d like to say to your current and future readers? Check out my blog. I post updates on my writing each week. I’ll be posting more about my upcoming releases too.

For Your Reading Pleasure…Susan Burdorf

  

Welcome back to For Your Reading Pleasure. Today’s guest is Susan Burdorf. 

1. Tell us about yourself. May include links to Facebook, twitter, blogs, websites, Amazon author page)Hello. My name is Susan Burdorf and I am the author of a YA Contemporary book called, “A Cygnet’s Tale” which is a modern retelling of the story of The Ugly Duckling. I am also a mom, a grandma, and I work full time as well as write. Here are some links to keep in touch with me (I LOVE it when my readers send me messages) Twitter: @susanburdorfauthor Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/susanburdorfauthor website: http://www.susanburdorfwrites.com

Buy Link: a Cygnet’s Tale
2. How do you choose names for your characters?

    Character names are not that hard for me. For some reason, maybe because the characters are contemporary, I do not have to work too hard to find names. I am a Girl Scout Leader and work with teens a lot so I draw my names from their names.

3. Do you talk about your book/characters as though they are real?

Yes, I do.

4. Do you listen to music when you write or edit? What kind?

I do listen to music, but I do not pick songs to match scenes like a lot of authors do. I find that music, or the tv playing, or the grandkids running around in the background is like white noise – I hear it, but I don’t really pay attention to it. It soothes my mind to be around noises that are familiar, but otherwise I ignore them. I really enjoy listening to James Blunt, One Republic, The Calling, or Enya when I write. Sometimes I like instrumental music like 2Cellos or Lindsey Stirling.

5. How long have you been writing? 

Someone else asked me this question the other day and I told him the story of my “What I Did Over the Summer” essay that we all had to write when I was in school. It was third grade and I wrote such a long essay that it was twelve pages (in my defense, it had been a very busy summer) and a teacher told me I should be a writer. I never stopped writing, but the real question here is not how long I have been writing, but how long have I thought of myself as a writer. And that question’s answer is – since I was a teen. I have numerous stories buried in a box that someday will be rediscovered as my “lost manuscripts” ala Harper Lee (no, not really, I am nowhere near her skill level and know it, but it is nice to dream) and then I will know I made it! I love to write, always have. As a young teen I wanted to go to college to be a journalist, but my parents talked me out of it. Every job I have ever had I have had a way of making writing a part of it. I love stories, I love plots, and I love to see my name in print.

6. Tell us about when you realized you were ‘meant to be’ a writer.

See the answer above.

7. Do you have a muse?

I do not have a muse. Although I believe I have a writing fairy who keeps sending me story ideas…usually when I am in the shower or in the car driving someplace or sleeping. Everywhere you can be where you cannot write down the ideas the ping pong around inside my head and that I wish I could write down! But, I think every writer has that issue!

8. How do you improve as a writer? (Workshops, conferences, reading) 

I am lucky to have started getting very serious about writing when UtopYA (now known as Utopia Con) began. I made connections and new friends. I joined groups on Facebook devoted to writing. I attend a monthly call with Heather Hildenbrand (the guru of everything writing) who invites guest speakers and allows fantastic conversations. I joined local writer’s groups to help me get started, and attend several conferences a year at which I am lucky enough to meet with and converse with folks who have made it onto best sellers lists and they let me pick their brains. The Indie writing community is vast and generous. I also attend workshops. At first I went to every workshop on writing I could find – query letters; plotting; character development, etc until I felt that they started repeating the messages. Now I am much more selective. For newbie writers I always recommend knowing what you want out of your writing and direct your outside activities toward achieving those goals. And I also tell them to READ. Read everything, not just how to books, but also books in and out of your genre. Write down phrases that make you think or are interesting to you and analyze them – it will help your writing improve. And make friends. Make friends with your fellow authors and your fans. WE, the writing community, are the best resource to improving writing, both our own and the rest of our community.

9. Writing quirks or superstitions? 

I don’t have any.

10. Tell us about your current work-in-progress.

I have a series of YA novellas that will release beginning in January 2016 with each one releasing each month. The series will involve a party where all the female guests come dressed as their favorite Fairy Tale character. Unbeknownst to the lead character who has invited her friends and their boyfriends, a demon has been released into their midst and forces them to act out the fairy tale of their costume with a twist…they must battle the demon and if they lose, he gets their souls. I am having a blast with this one, because it is so different and dark from anything I have ever written before. It is called the “A Little Midnight Madness” series. But before that one comes out I have two stand alone books releasing this year. Both are YA. “Breaking Fences” is the YA Contemporary story of Cutter Boone and his inability to release his guilt over the death of his father until he meets Melodie Graham, a former barrel racer and feisty daughter of a drunk who beats her. Both help each other discover the mystery of some cattle rustlers and face down three rabid coyotes along the way. The next book, due to release in December 2015 is called “Clockwork and Lace” and is a Steampunk novel about a young girl who must find her grandmother utilizing the help of a metal dragon who can talk and time travel.

11. What book are you reading now?

I am a moderator on a panel for Southern Festival of Books in Nashville, TN in October 2015 so I am reading the books of the panelists I will be introducing. One is “The Same Sky” by Amanda Eyre Ward and the other is “Dear Carolina” by Kristy Woodson Harvey. I just finished reading “The Orphan Queen” by Jodi Lawrence Meadows which I highly recommend.

12. What genre do you write in? What about POV?

I have written so far in YA Contemporary and one book, “A Cygnet’s Tale” is in first person POV. “Breaking Fences” is also YA Contemporary and is in third person. I know most YA books are first person, but I like the freedom of third person.

13. Tell us about writing preparation. Character Profiles? Outlines?

I do like to do character sketches for my complicated characters. Sometimes I have as much as 7 pages of information listed that show me where the character was born, what they like to eat, if they like designer clothes, what they watch on tv, what their favorite subject at school is, etc. I like to look online for pictures of people I think look like my image of the character. I outline some of the story to keep things on track, but I have found that as I write I tend to go off track anyway, the characters sometimes hijack the story…and at those times I let them take the lead.

14. Do you know how your stories will end?

Yes, I do. I know the beginning, the middle, and the end of all my stories. That helps keep me on track. I find that not doing this first sends the story all over the place. That is no fun to read, and definitely no fun to edit.

15. Do you books have a message or theme? Or are they purely for entertainment?

Yes. I like my books to carry one theme since they are YA I want people to know they are okay just the way you are.

16. Do you have any favorite snacks or drinks that you eat/drink while writing?

Nope.

17. Tell us about your other passions.

My family is very important to me. I also love to hike and photography is something I enjoy. I also like to collect DVD’s. I have a pretty extensive movie collection. I like hockey, and enjoy going to games.
 
18. What’s something interesting about you?

I am a conservationist. I helped create an Arboretum in a town I lived in. We also created a Nature Trail and a butterfly garden which a local school uses to conduct science experiments like rainfall totals and plant growth.

19. Share a small sample(limit to one paragraph, please) of your writing… can be a WIP or already published.

This is the beginning of “A Cygnet’s Tale”:
“Fairy tales don’t always have a beautiful princess…or a happy ending.
Sometimes they have ugly ducklings who never grow into their wings.
And sometimes they have something altogether different, just because they can.
There are no rules in fairy tales, except that they must start with ‘once upon a time, in a land far away, there lived a… and then you get to fill in the blank.”

20. Anything you’d like to say to your current and future readers?

I want to remind readers to READ. Whether you read my books or not, just read. And after you read, please take the time to leave a review. Your author friends will appreciate it very much. Thank you for taking the time to visit with me and I hope to hear from you soon!

Susan Burdorf, Author

A Cygnet’s Tale (released May 2015)Breaking Fences (releasing soon)

Housekeeping…

So I’ve not done very good (like I said I was) at keeping up the blog, but I am reviving For Your Reading Pleasure starting this Friday. Check back and hopefully, y’all will find new authors to read and enjoy. 

Okay…bullet points because I love them…

  • In a few weeks, we’ll be releasing a prequel to The Waiting Series called The Foundation. Why you ask? Well, in all honesty I didn’t set out to write a prequel, I just needed more details about the “Operation” and wanted to discover how it all came together. In the middle of writing, it was evident that the story could easily function as a prequel. It’s short…less than 20k, and there are only five major characters (Millie, Nash, Stephen Mullins, Layton, and Bob) which is a far cry from the  amounts readers usually see in these books. I hope that a slower introduction will intrigue those readers who may be intimidated by books with a large cast. Also, it will be free to all who subscribe to our mailing list that’s yet to be set up but will be soon. 
  • The Wanting: Book 3 in The Waiting Series has a ballpark release date of December 1 – 21. I had said I wanted to release in Fall 2015, and that’s still my plan. Even if it is December. 
  • I am one-third done with The Flood: Book 3.5, and I am pleased with it so far. It’s release should be in June 2016. Yes, I know that’s a long time to wait but it leads me to my next bullet point…
  • I (Elizabeth) am writing a new series, underneath a different pen name. It’s still in the developmental stages, but the first book is about a young female witch named Starling Hopewell and based on Native American and Celtic folklore. Of course, the books will be set in the south and I doubt will be as racy as The Waiting Series, but I think y’all will enjoy this story. Side note: Starling is the name of my great, great, great grandfather born in 1813. When I discovered his name, I knew it would be in a book one day. 🙂 
  • Today’s picture is of Arlington, my favorite antebellum in Natchez, Mississippi. Clearly, it is abandoned and likely in a total state of disrepair, but it’s still lovely to me. 
  • Thanks so much for reading and sticking with us. ❤️❤️❤️

The Fire is LIVE and other housekeeping items…

Good afternoon from Louisiana, the state where a cold front came thru and it’s still 93 degrees, but hey, we’ll take it. Lots going on: 
-The Fire is LIVE!!

  
 
Amazon link to The Fire
– Today is The Waiting Series first birthday!! On this day one year ago, I hit publish on the very first book in the series, The Waiting!! First year STATS: 2 novels, 2 novellas, 1,527 pages, and 297,000 words. Impossible without our family, friends, editor extraordinaire, Kathy, and especially our readers and reviewers. 

– I am halfway done with what I hope to be a short novella about “The Operation.” For those of you familiar with the series, this story takes place a year before Millie returns to Rivers. I’m considering it as a series prequel, but I’m not 100% yet. Which would make sense as it does happen before the action of The Waiting, but we’ll see how much information it gives away when I’m done. 

Hope everyone has a great Wednesday. ❤️ Elizabeth

***SALE***

  
The Waiting Series is having the biggest sale EVER!! The first two books (The Waiting and The Funeral) are FREE and The Watching is only .99!!! Take advantage of this deal today!!! 

Link for The Waiting: http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00MOJFZNW/ref=mp_s_a_1_2?qid=1428098902&sr=8-2&keywords=the+waiting+book+one&dpPl=1&dpID=51eIK4VdyuL&ref=plSrch&pi=AC_SY200_QL40
Link for The Funeral: http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00OOF05CU/ref=kina_tdp?ie=UTF8
Link for The Watching: http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00UO1QYUA/ref=kina_tdp?ie=UTF8

In other news…

– I finished The Wanting last week. I’ve never had a book stretch me like that one did, but it is probably my favorite book to date. The subtitle could actually be Three Weddings and a Funeral, but I’ll stick to Book 3.  

– While my computer is at the doctor, I’m working on a short story/maybe novella about the origins of the “Operation.” In this story, we’ll meet Stephen Mullins, the surgeon from Jefferson City, Missouri, and discover how Millie and Bob aligned St. Tam in Slidell, and Rivers in New Orleans with the black market organ scheme. 

– When I have my computer back, I’ll start work on the outline for The Flood. For those of you concerned for Arianne (The Wanting is even more brutal for Ari than The Watching, FYI), she finds her voice and maybe even a new best friend in The Flood. I’m excited to get started on it! 

– The Fire release date is coming soon… as in within the week. Since we  published in August 2014, my hope has been to put out 4 books within the year, and I’m so proud to have met this goal. 

– We love our readers and reviewers!! We’ve received so many beautiful and encouraging words about the series. Thank you so much for reading and we are thrilled that the people on these stories resonate with you.