Performance Anxiety

Catchy headline, right? Now that I have your attention, I’m probably going to disappoint you in that I’m not going to talk about what you thought  I would be talking about. I’m going to be discussing what I’m sure many other writers go through: stage fright. I am about a fourth of the way through the first draft of book 4, and I’ve got to say, I’m feeling a little gun shy. There are a couple of reasons for this:

It’s time to say goodbye: Like all writers, I’ve gotten attached to these people that I’ve created in my head. Cain and Riley have been a part of my life for years, and at least for the near and somewhat far future, we are going to be parting ways so I can work on some other projects that I’m excited about. It’s time to make some new character friends, but you never forget the old.

(THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPH CONTAINS SONS OF ANARCHY SPOILERS SO DON’T CONTINUE IF YOU HAVEN’T FINISHED WATCHING THE SERIES)

…….

These people are real: I bawled like a baby when Jax Teller  (Sons of Anarchy for those who don’t watch the show) died. My husband looked at me like I had two heads. I was a swollen mess of tears. Because for the last several years, Jax Teller had been just as real as any person we’d see on the news. I will never meet those people either, but that doesn’t make them any less real. Writers create real people in our heads, real for all intents and purposes. So when they die, they take a piece of us with them. For book 4, there will be some definite bloodshed, and I don’t think some of my precious friends, who I have spent the last six years with, will make it out of the book alive.

I want to do right by the characters: When you spend that long with someone, as a writer, you want to make sure you do it right. You’ve poured your heart into something and you want to exit with the color and circumstance that it deserves. But rough drafts can make you wonder if you’ll ever get it right. I want the closing act to be the best one yet, and that’s a lot of pressure.

I want to do right by the readers: For every reader that has stuck with me and my books, I want to make you proud. I want you to get to the last page and feel like your journey was worth the trip. And maybe I want to make you remember these peoples’ stories for at least a little while. Maybe you’ll enjoy it so much that you’ll let your children read it when their old enough (and PLEASE wait till they’re old enough). I want to do right by you, and thank you for taking this journey with me.

And maybe, just maybe, you’ll take the next one with me too.

 

 

 

 

Confession Time

Confession time. Everybody ready? Can I get a drum roll from someone? No? Ok…

I am not sure I’m writing for the “right” reasons. I’m told you’re supposed to do it for the joy of doing it, for the love of your readers, etc. This all may be true, and those things are very important to me, but…

I like to win.

I have a closet competitive streak. I don’t show it much, but several times a day, you’ll see me checking my best seller ranking on Amazon.

Because that, my friends, is the only scorecard I have for this writing thing.

Yes, I love getting a great review. Those keep me going when sales aren’t where I would like them to be. But I’d be lying if I said I would be ok with staying exactly where I am as a writer. The joy of doing it isn’t enough. I’m grateful to anyone who has ever bought my book, I truly am, but I look at that rank to get the next high, the next feeling of victory. That sale is my scorecard.

I want to win.

I realize that everyone dreams of being on the New York Times Best Seller List. But that’s truly the mark of where I would feel like I won. My dad taught me that I can do anything I set my mind to, and I can’t help but hope that maybe, just maybe, he’s right. I know that’s a long ways away, if ever, and I don’t know what to do in the meantime, because I need those highs, I need those wins. So my quest now is to find those little victories: the new Twitter follower, the new “like” for my blog…something to sustain me. Because we all need to feel like we crossed a finish line before everyone else, to feel like we got first place in something. If you don’t, bottle it up and send me some. Until then, I’m going to continue the hunt.

The Mystery Review

I’m going to do something a little different for this review. Ready for this? I’m not going to tell you what book it is. There are several reasons. One is that I’m sure the woman who wrote it is very nice. Another is that I firmly believe that just because I don’t like a book doesn’t make it a bad book. In fact, there are millions of people who love her work, so many that she’s been able to publish a number of novels in the realm of Stephen King.

But I didn’t like it. In fact, I described it at one point as word oatmeal: goes down easy, but boring as hell.

I’m going to focus on another avenue for this review though. I’m going to focus on the fact that she breaks almost every writing rule I’ve ever been taught, yet she is wildly successful; which makes me think, if you can succeed without the rules, are there really any rules at all?

Show Don’t Tell- I don’t know the physical description of any character in this book. I don’t know what the town looks like. I don’t know what the characters’ homes look like. All I know is background information that the third person narrator told me. The world wasn’t alive to me, nor were the people, because I had to hear it all second hand. My brain didn’t even have a chance to make my own picture, make my own story, because everything I got sounded like a report, as if someone had read the book for me and was telling me what it said. Not exactly the greatest reading experience.

Make The Reader Care- Maybe I’m a big jerk. Could be. But I didn’t care about the characters. At all. Maybe that’s because there were about twelve of them. Seriously. And all of them had their own stories spread out in tiny chapters all across three-hundred-seventy-something pages. I forgot who people were and had to go back, that’s how spread out they were, which left me having more emotional involvement with the snack I was eating than the characters.

Don’t Leave Things Unresolved- Even though I was bored for 400 pages, I did want to see how each person’s story played out. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. In fact, some of them found a dead body about ten pages before the book ended. I was thinking “Ooh now we’re talkin’!” then I realized there was no more book. I am afraid I won’t be reading the next one, so I guess I’ll never know who they found. But unfortunately, she made me not care.

What about you, dear readers, have you read a book that broke all the rules?

 

 

Unsolicited Advice for New Moms

Nobody asked me my opinion, but seeing as it’s my blog, I thought I’d compile a list of little hints that I’ve learned during my first month as a new mom. Some you’ve probably heard before, but hopefully some will be new information that you can take on your journey into parenthood.

Buy a nursing bra that doesn’t make you feel like a fourth grader- there’s going to be a lot of things that happen during motherhood that don’t exactly make you feel attractive: getting pooed on, spit on, not showering as much as tour used to, etc. But you don’t need to add to it by buying yourself a nursing bra that looks like something an elementary school student wears during gym class. They may look more practical than the pretty ones, but they function the same way.  Treat yourself.

Don’t wait to do basic human necessities- if you find yourself with a sleeping baby and you are in the middle of a chore, and you say to yourself “oh I’m hungry/need to pee/etc,” don’t wait to finish your chore. Just do it. Because it is virtually guaranteed that your baby will start crying two minutes later and you could possibly go hungry by the time you have a chance to eat again. Guaranteed.

Watch those fingers– My daughter thinks getting dressed in the morning is comparable to having an iron maiden used on her, so I try to do it as quickly as possible. But I’ve noticed that if you yank a sleeve on too fast you can catch a tiny baby finger. Not so good. Luckily I haven’t done  it, but I definitely see it would be easy to do. So be quick but careful.

More to come… probably once a week. Mommas, feel free to add in the comments.

Author Interview: Sara Schoen and Taylor Henderson

sara shoen and taylor hendersonA

Next up in the interview series are Sara Schoen and Taylor Henderson, authors of Bad Publicity. Sounds like an exciting read from their tantalizing description. Read on!

1. Tell us a little about your book.
Bad Publicity is about a rebellious teenage girl who has just lost her mother due to cancer, and now is forced to standby while her father gets remarried to a woman who cannot have any bad publicity ruining her prestigious reputation. Needless to say that cuts into Jade’s fun, and she’s not going to stand by and let life slip away even if it means a little bad publicity for everyone involved.
2. Who is your favorite part about writing? Least favorite?
Sara: My favorite part is to tell a story. I’m not only creating an escape for someone else, but I’m telling them a story with characters that hopefully feel like their best friends, because they are my friends and I. I can also point out a lot that’s happening to teens/in the world and have people relate to it or even change their mind on the topic. It’s like they get to know me through my work. My least favorite part, is that I think about how many chapters my stories will have and I get discouraged. It’s a lot of time that may mean nothing in the long run.
Taylor: My absolute favorite part about writing is the fact that I get to create a whole new world and story. My characters can be whoever I want them to be, with talents that I’ve never had. I can create a character who is good at Math, not that I would, but I can! My least favorite part about writing is that it takes time to do. You actually have to dedicate time to writing. It doesn’t take a month to write an award-winning novel, despite how awesome that might be. Even with nanowrimo, after the book is written you still have to go back at the end of the month to edit and make the book how you want it to be. Editing can be kind of boring at times too, but it’s also fun to see where your thought process went when you were initially writing the book.
3. A director tells you that you have complete control over casting the movie version of your book. Who plays who?
Our dream cast would be as goes:
Jade: Vika Levina
Damien: young Ian Somerhalder
Brooke: Taylor Momsen before the drastic dark change
Alyssa: Emily Rudd
Austin: Adam Gregory
Matt: Chace Crawford
Chase: Matt Lanter with darker hair

4. If your house was burning down and you could save one thing, what would it be (don’t say photo albums, everyone says photo albums)?
Sara: I’d save my dog, and my family. No competition. I can replace everything else, I can’t replace their lives. Other than that I would grab my laptop and the small stash of cash I have saved so that we could buy food and other supplies if the fire destroyed the house.
Taylor: I would save my family first and foremost. Other than family, the only other thing that I would think to save is my laptop, because I don’t have any of my files backed up. (I should get on that.)

5. If you could choose what one message that a reader takes away from reading your book, what would it be?
We would want them to take away that your actions have consequences, it’s not always about what you want, and eventually you will have to think of others. Just be sure that you put yourself before others, because you’re looking out for yourself because you know what’s best for you.
6. Imagine a world where everyone wears a t-shirt that says something about who they are as a human being, i.e. “Doesn’t play well with others” or “Don’t talk to me until I’ve had coffee.” What would yours say?
Sara: “I don’t give a f*ck. I’m going to be me and say what’s on my mind.”
Taylor: “I can be ditzy, and slow at moments, but don’t underestimate my intelligence.”
7. Who has been your biggest supporter in your writing?
Sara: My biggest support has been Taylor and our friend, Avery. She was the one that encouraged me to write, then when the books got popular online to publish it. Avery is the biggest cheerleader, she encourages me and inspires me. They tell everyone about my books, and thunderclaps, they’re amazing. My family supports me by buying books and reading them, I think my sister has read more this year than ever in her life. She’s read the entire Amber Alert series, Bad Publicity, The Dying Game, Waking up blank and everyone in my family is excited for the Guarded Secret series.
Taylor: My biggest supporters in my writing has been Sara and my Grandma Marianne. Sara always pushes me to write, even when I am uninspired, and she encourages me with constructive criticism. It’s amazing to have such a great friend, who loves and cares for me and shares my passion for writing. She is definitely the Jade to my Brooke. My Grandma has been my biggest supporter since I was younger. She helped teach me how to read, and even got me into writing. She always has new books for me to read, and is always the first to purchase my books. When Better Than Revenge released (June 9th) she had 20 copies that she had ordered, that arrived on my doorstep. I couldn’t be more thankful.
8. What writer do you admire the most and why?
Sara: I admire JK Rowling, she made a world for her readers. Everyone that read the books or watched the movies knew and went to Hogwarts with the characters. That’s just amazing to me! To touch the lives of literally thousands and thousands of people, and for her to do that is mind blowing and utterly amazing!
Taylor: I admire Stephen King, JK Rowling, Anne Rice , James Patterson, and any other author who has a name that even people who don’t read/write recognize. I would love to go so far in the writing world that when people hear Taylor Henderson they instantly can put my name to a series or book that I’ve written.
9. If you had only one book to read for the rest of your life what would it be?
Sara: I’d read a book on developing character traits and characters so I could continue to improve my writing as I do now with reading other published books. If I couldn’t do that I’d read the Sweet Secrets series and have two books in one. (HA Loophole!)
Taylor: I would read Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead over and over again. The characters that she created were realistic, and relatable, and she was so creative with her take on vampires that it got me interested in other genres of books than just romantic fiction. If I couldn’t read that book, then I would read the Guarded Secrets series because I love mystery/suspense novels. (Wink wink.)
10. Favorite quote about writing, life or otherwise:
Sara: “I made the decision to not listen to the small mean voice that was telling me I wasn’t good enough. I decided to keep believing in myself no matter what.” Rachel Platten
Taylor: “I read like the ink from the book is oxygen, and I’m gasping for breath.” -Unknown

sara shoen and taylor henderson
INFO:

Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.com/Bad-Publicity-Sara-Schoen/dp/1680581023/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1433716939&sr=8-3&keywords=bad+publicity
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SaraNSchoen
https://www.facebook.com/TayMHenderson

Twitter: @SaraNSchoen and @TayMHenderson
Website: N/A
Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9790618.Sara_Schoen
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9885214.Taylor_Henderson

The 2K International Writers’ Blog Tour – Elizabeth Hein

Welcome to the next leg of the 2K International Writer’s Blog Tour! Up today is Elizabeth Hein

Kate M. Colby

Elizabeth Hein

ElizabethElizabeth Hein writes women’s fiction with a bit of an edge. Her novels explore the role of friendship in the lives of adult women and themes of identity. She has published two novels, How to Climb the Eiffel Tower and Overlook. She is currently working on another novel and a mystery series.

In 2002, Elizabeth was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a cancer of the blood. During her extensive treatment, she met dozens of other cancer patients and developed close relationships with several of them. These friendships were the inspiration for her recent novel, How To Climb The Eiffel Tower. A cancer diagnosis is a life changing experience, yet it does not necessarily change a life for the worse.

Elizabeth Hein grew up in Massachusetts within an extended family of storytellers. Her childhood was filled with excellent food and people loudly talking over each other. After earning a…

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