Saturday, December 4, 2010

Yeah, who do you think you are?

"How's your book coming?"
"Get published, yet?"
"Oh, you're starting a new book? Didn't you already have one? What ever happened to that?"
"Oh... that sounds... interesting."
"I have a friend who's writing a memoir."
"I'm also a writer, I'm writing a memoir."
"Sci-fi? Um... that's cool. I guess."
"This sound like every bad thriller movie I've ever seen. I mean, no offense."
"Wait, you're still going to school, right?"

As a writer, as are all of you, I'm sure these questions have arisen at least once. If not more. The overall scheme of the world seems to believe that doing something with a long shot at professionalism is far-fetched, unrealistic, and honestly kind of silly.

How dare we dream, right?

How dare we ask our friends and family to take an interest. To read for us. To support that we spend copious amounts of free time doing something that may or may not pay out in the end. And heaven forbid that we may actually do this for our own enjoyment, our own sanity.

Do I sound bitter? A little miffed? Do I sound like maybe I'm getting a little worn down?

I'm not going to be the next Jean-Paul Sartre, and I'm never going to write a full-out memoir. I'm never going to be a multi-million dollar author, or be able to do it as a full time career.

But I will be published someday. Because I have things to say, things that are interesting, things that are fun, words that will bring people to tears and keep someone up at night. I'll challenge someone's imagination. I'll have an review shredding my lack of substance and comparing me to sparkly vampires.

I'm not comparing myself to Anne Rice, and I'm not putting my work up to Stephen King. But I'll have an review telling everyone that I did it, someday. That I wrote a book they loved. That I meant something from page one to the end of a too-long epilogue.

That's why we all write, isn't it?

That's why we wake up early before work, and stay up after the house is dark and the sound of the keyboard is all that remains at 2 in the morning.
It's why we dance around our homes, bang our fists on the table in frustration, throw red pens across the room, skip out on Friday night plans, and why we have Twitter accounts.
It's why we cry at rejection letters, grit our teeth at loved one's biting statements, and why we secretly wake up at 4 in the morning just to jot down words we can't read in the morning.

For that feeling of finishing a chapter. For that rush of writing the perfect scene. For the overwhelming surge of uncontrollable joy when you type the words "the end".

I don't really know what this post is about. I'm sure I'm just making you all think I've lost by mind. But on the random chance that maybe you needed a little bit of reminder on this beautiful, cold, Saturday morning - don't EVER stop doing what you love. Don't ever feel like you're alone in this. We're all here, we're all miffed, and we're all on Twitter babbling nonsense just to make it through the day.

So keep typing, and know that you have a friend in the unpublished writing business.

Lots of love for you all, and stay out of the wind. Shiver.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

New Life/Muses for WIP

Part One: The new job/house

Wow. I feel like I haven't had enough time to do anything for the last month. I've been chugging away at plotting - in my head. I have concepts and scenes for two different novels written - in my head.

Despite all that, I'm feeling more confident in myself than ever before. I have a truly "grown up" job, and it feels really nice to dress business casual, have a badge to get in a building, and sit at a desk and process some purchases. I REALLY miss being a nanny, though. I went to collect my last paycheck, and the beautiful little lady is walking! We worked so hard on that for a month... and she picks it up in the week and a half I'm gone. Sigh. She's amazing, and I'll miss being with her everyday. But still, the new job is pretty swanky.

The new house is amazing! Exactly perfect in every single way. The kitchen has more space than I know what to do with (a nice problem to have, eh?), the living room is the same way - even with our brand new, chocolate brown couch! Our bedroom has room for our huge bed, two bookcases, a dresser and my own TV and XBOX - all that besides the walk in closet (that I need more clothes for, haha). Even the bathroom is oversized, which is silly. Not to mention having my very own laundry room - where I can keep the litter box out of sight! I'm overjoyed, it's wonderful.

In my writing life, things aren't quite so settled. I can't seem to stop cleaning, working, and oversleeping enough to get anything out of my head and onto the computer. I figured out today what I needed to do.

Part Two: Inspiring Myself

So, here are my muses for the new WIPs I'm working on.

1) Finding strong female MC examples. Here is what I found.

Rowan Mayfair. One of my favorite all time favorite female characters. She's strong, and in charge of a power she doesn't want to recognize, and can't seem to harness. She's amazingly resilient, loving, yet cold all at the same time. I love her. 

A new find, the amazing Elena from Kelley Armstrong's Women of the Underworld series. This is book one - and I'm totally hooked on Elena. Her voice is so strong; her badass-ness is off-putting in a charming kind of way. She's also finding a way to meld her circumstances into the life she wants for herself - finally realizing that you can be happy being exactly what you are. She is amazing, and I love her as much, if not even more, than my lovely Rowan. 

2) Finding the perfect playlist. 

So, I'm usually not a fan of YouTube playlists... because I don't need the videos while I'm writing. But sometimes, they really do have all the best songs in one place. 

So I made a playlist consisting solely of strong females, all with great songs, amazing lyrics, and a passion for energy. 

It starts off with kind of a silly song, but Nellie McKay has long been a favorite of mine. I don't regularly listen to "this kind" of music... but all of these songs really get me pumped about the female race. 

Part Three: Sneak Peaks of the new WIP[s]

More than anything I've ever written, I'm so excited for my new WIPs. They're more than thoughts thrown on a piece of paper... they're genuinely thought out from beginning to end. Please keep in mind these descriptions are super vague. They'll get better.

First up: Espionage Suspense

Izzy Ventamilla is CIA. Turning her back permanently on her small town drug-peddling mafia family, she requests to be sent out of the US - as far away as possible. After serving her country proudly for years, she catches wind of a full-out extermination of her small town. The modern Sodom and Gomorrah, Clover, Nebraska has moved past small time prostitution rings and drugs to weapon development and all-out anarchy. With developing backers in Vegas and New York - Izzy herself knows all too well that her father's power has spread. 

Going back as an operative, her first item of business is to throw her own sister in jail, alienate her former fiancĂ©e, and win the trust of her father's organization. Not as clever as she believes, Izzy all too quickly becomes involved in the day-to-day of helping a town the government turned its back on years ago. As a farming village without enough water and subsidies running out years before - they've been doing what they had to do to survive.

In the end, Izzy will have to figure out who is more corrupt - her own father and hometown, or the government who is willing to let a town burn when they're no longer of use. Her decision will lead her to the depths of her own CIA organization, and a literal gun to the head of the President she had worked so hard for. 

Second: Sci-Fi Thriller

Since the meteor hit six years ago, Cat's job has been to monitor the water recession. As a long-time Kansas resident, she watched the news reports as the meteor hit somewhere in Europe, and sent the ocean floods all the way to the Missouri and Colorado border. Only a strip of dry earth remains, running from southern Canada to the middle of Oklahoma.

In a drowned world, the rain never ceases to fall and the constant lightening storms shred more crops than they can harvest. Not to matter though, the oceans surrounding are flooded with the non-survivors of the deadly gas that erupted from the meteor. The undead fill the oceans, finding their way to land eventually. The Turned reek of deterioration and thirst for unbloated, living flesh. Problem for Cat and the rest of the survivors - it's not just the humans that became infected by the alien gas. But the animals as well. Constant attacks come from wild dogs, crazed cats, and the occasional beached shark. The humans they can sometimes outrun, the limber cats that rain down from the rooftops are more of a problem. 

Six years after the attack, the water recession is bare, and the food has been scarce for months. Running from the outnumbering Turned and human cannibals is getting exhausting. What will Cat do?

That's all from me, folks. Sorry for the novel post :)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

See you in a month - Author on hiatus

So, despite having a partial out, life has stepped in and requested that I put aside my work for a little while.

My husband has worked very, very hard and finally got the very job he deserves! His career is finally starting (I'm jealous of salary and benefits, of course!) and I couldn't be happier for him. He really deserves it!

But, that also means some changes for me (insert the inverse of an exclamation point... whatever that is.)

We've moving into a new apartment, and I'm getting another job. Not an additional one, just a different one.

Needless to say, my writing, revisions, etc need to take a backseat to packing, cleaning, moving, making a new home and starting a new job.

So, in other words...

Take care, and tons of happy, happy writing!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

I'm alive!

First and foremost, I'm finally feeling better! I still have a man voice and feel like I haven't had a glass of water in 10 years, but that's an improvement over being a zombie.

I have a ton of homework, housework and lifework to catch up on today - but then tomorrow starts my serious return to NaNoWriMo.

Okay, I shouldn't be deceptive. It will start my official entry as such. I've written exactly 0 words. 

So, my Monday - Friday write-goal is around 20K. Which is completely manageable.

Or so I keep telling myself.

How are you all doing with your NaNo projects? In love? Frustrated? Trudging through? Give up? I'd love to hear your stories of inspiration, horror and desperation. 

Much love,

Monday, October 25, 2010

My love for beta readers and other things.

The most valuable tool in writing is not your writing program. It's not the computer you use, the editing books you read, the playlist you make or the coffee you drink (though, admittedly, coffee IS very important) - but the human element of revision. The person who you can trust to read for you, edit for you and give you a sense of what you need to do to be a better writer.

I've been so lucky in my writing life to have some wonderful people surrounding me to give me critique. Ebyss has been a constant. She is one of the only two people (the other being Kim) who have read my entire book. Without her, my book wouldn't be what it is today. Not even close. Kim gave me the kind words and confidence to push forward with the revisions. They're both amazing people, and I'm so lucky to have them!

But I also have the here and there folk, like those of you who read this blog and help me. That kind of consistent shove into the writing world has helped keep me focused. Just loading up Twitter, and seeing all of the writing world converging in on itself is a blessing all it's own!

So, I guess this is a shout-out to everyone who has been so unbelievably awesome and helpful. I appreciate you all so, so very much!

Also, looking for one last beta read after these "final" revisions. 

Have the time to read a 75K word novel? It's an adult thriller. Themes to be wary of: female homosexuality, sex scenes, violence, torture and child abuse. Just as a warning. But seriously, wanna read? BethanyRay.Goodman at gmail.

In other news,

I'm torn on NaNoWriMo... My novel is in revision - that one final revision. Part of me says to keep revising. To just look at submitting queries around Christmas and do NaNoWriMo for my own sanity. The other part of me says I have minimal revisions to do, and if I could just put down Fallout: New Vegas for 10 seconds I could knock them out.

Perhaps I'll work through them today and tomorrow, and make a decision after that. I could say I'd have them done by Sunday, no problem, except that I'm going back to see my family for Neewollah, and my mommy's birthday is on Thursday.

Sigh. I'm SO ready for a new project.


Friday, October 22, 2010

Where is 'snark's' place in writing?

Though this isn't a "trending" topic, it seems to always lurk around the internet world.

There are sites where snark prevails and is expected and cherished for the no bull criticism it offers.

AW Query Letter Hell - where posters willing place their queries on the chopping block in hopes of making it better.
So what if it's no longer there. Miss Snark herself has some of the best blogs with the most pertinent information out there.
And of course, who could ever mention the word (lovingly, of course) snark without Janet Reid's Hyde side. 

Then you have the other face of the writing world - the ones who offer mostly honest yet toned down advice that boosts confidence and keeps writers writing.

The mysterious Authoress' amazing blog of all things helpful and amazing.
Kristin Nelson's and Nathan Bransford's blogs of all things query and pre-publishing.
And most writing sites like Scriblerati, and tons and tons of others.

Now, the question is, which is more effective? 

Without running the risk of sounding passive - neither. Personally, I'm usually all for the snark, because I feel that it's honest and I can trust it. But even when we subject ourselves to the brutality - there always seems to be that ONE person who crosses the line. If it was a party scene it would go like this:

Lady: "Yeah, so I totally feel like this dress makes me look fat."
General murmur: Niceties including "No it doesn't, I promise!"
Helpful person: "You look fine, but maybe if you crunched it around your stomach a little it'd look even better. I mean you look great, but that might make you more comfortable. Your call."
Overhelpful: "Don't you have something else you can change into? I mean, yeah, that doesn't look good at all."

Then the general murmur falls into a shocked silence, followed by some tool-bag saying "Ah man, over the line."

I think the goal is to fall somewhere around the "helpful person" character. When writing reviews or informative things to people I tend to use the following formula.

Step 1: Say something nice. 

Option A: Compliment the work. 
Option B: When it really is horrible, at least let them know you're on their side. 

Step 2: Give HONEST critique

You don't have to hold their hand, and you don't have to tell them "I wouldn't change a thing!" Because you would change a thing or two, because our human nature and compulsive need to be right won't let us say it's perfect. If human nature wasn't this way, there would be no such thing as interior designers. Or writers. 

Don't take away their voice. Just because they phrase something a way you wouldn't, doesn't mean they're wrong. Stick to grammar, pointing out awkward sentences, plot holes or general misunderstandings. Leave the voice to the writer. 

Step 3: Say something helpful

Something as simple as - "You're on the right track, take my suggestions with a grain of salt!" Will give writers back the power. Reading "suggestions", especially when there are quite a few of them, can be overwhelming. We've all been there. Just a single closing line that puts the emphasis back on the writer a good way to move forward. 

So, readers. Weigh in. How do you like your feedback? Sugar coated? Snarky? Sugar coated snark? Snark flavored sugar? 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Holds Breath, Pushes "Publish Post"

Alright. I've been dreading doing this for a really long time. I get so many comments/emailed responses to my blog, and all of you are so dynamic in your own writings and opinions that it scares me to think what your internal reactions will be.

But, internal musings aside, I'd be delighted to hear some of your thoughts on this (completely new and revised) first 300ish words. Disclaimer: This hasn't been seen by anyone but me. Feel free to make ANY corrections. My poor beta reader has been run through the mill with this book haha. (Hugs to Ebyss!)


Shivers ran down my arms, and I cradled my purse to my chest. It wasn’t just the chill of the parking garage; something was wrong.
Taking a deep breath against the ensuing tingle of other minds, I lowered the barriers that usually protected my brain in public. Close to midnights on campus, there wasn’t a lot of activity to bombard me. Except for one familiar signature.
“Chloe?”  My voice was hoarse, barely resonating a yard in front of me in the empty parking garage.   
The sound of one of my students struggling made my shoulders tighten in surprise. Her thoughts were already quieter than they had been a moment ago. I closed my eyes to focus, to see what she was seeing. A rag of foul tasting chemicals over her mouth, unbearable pressure squeezing her from behind. She slapped at the man, tried to scratch him, but it was no use. She was fading fast.
I dropped my purse and shot off toward the elevator bay. It took two tries to get my shaking fingers to press the call button. Another mind sharpened. It wasn’t the same sensation as Chloe’s normally simple signature. The energy was fierce and angry.
My fist pushed into my eyes and my teeth ground. A glimpse inside of the man’s head pushed me into action. I closed my eyes and focused on Chloe before sprinting down the two flights of stairs to the third floor landing area.
Jagged pieces of the smashed security camera lay scattered over the floor . Turning towards the elevator doors, I felt the man’s mind enter mine again. He was hoping the person who had called for the elevator wasn’t on this floor.
I crouched as I frantically searched the small area for something to act as a weapon. The doors started to slide open and my gaze fell to a broken piece of camera. The plastic curved like a scimitar and my hands trembled as I picked it up. Tested it’s weight. Silently, I positioned myself beside the mechanicals doors. Waiting for them to emerge. . Chloe’s red hair came first. Her carefully constructed curls were tossed over her face, blocking it from view. He carried her over his shoulder like a limp sack, knocking her head against the elevator opening as he started towards the exit. 

Okay. Thoughts? Opinions? I'll be biting my nails in the corner if you need me.

<3, Bethany

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Query Letter Post

Alright. Help me shred this thing into submission? Pwetty pwease?

Specs - MARTYR is complete and in it's very final revision. It's 75K and is a Paranormal Thriller.

Jamie's edits with a few minor changes --- what you guys think??

Evelyn Harper is no damsel in distress. A lifetime of childhood abuse and uncontrollable telepathic abilities have taught her to rely only on herself. But when she intercept the thoughts of a woman being attacked, Evelyn makes the choice to break one of her own rules. Never get involved. 

Chloe, the woman she saves, is the daughter of a controversial senator. She also happens to be everything Evelyn wishes she could be - frivolous, funny, trusting, and, kind. Despite her reservations,  Evelyn is drawn to the woman. But Chloe's family has their own secrets. When members of her father’s household start turning up dead, she turns to Evelyn for help.

Having a friend is rare, but keeping one harder. With her knack for survival, and a supernatural arsenal, Evelyn is determined to find out who’s threatening Chloe, and stop them. No matter what it takes. 

The path to vengeance leads her straight into the torturous hands of a corrupt political game. Now Evelyn must decide if opening herself to others is worth the price - her life.

More Monologue!

I just finished reading Self-Editing for Fiction Writers.

Can I recommend this book to everyone I know? And everyone you all know? I want to shout it's praises from the rooftops. In fact, were there no police to worry about, I'd find a ladder and do that right this second.

At this moment I'm going through and working my dialogue tags, checking for -ly endings and looking for patronizing passages. I'm so happy to be revising with a purpose! I mean, believe me, I understand and have seen first-hand the progress of revision. But still, going through and reading to look for tricky sentences, messed up commas and plot-flaws can only be done so many times before your eyes cross over.

Now I'm reading and revising with purpose, making changes that matter. Already I'm transofrming tricky passages and fixing troubled dialogue. In other words, I'm feeling hella productive.

But, yes. So I had a little, teensy, weensy little writing meltdown the other day. Real tears and everything! Just a little overwhelmed. It's very hard to face something that you've put SO much work into and realize that your writing barely matters. What matters the most (pathetically) is one stupid little letter. I keep hearing the same thing on my queries - "I'd put that book right back on the shelf. I'd never read that." WHICH IS DUMB. Especially when those people see my first 250 words and fall in love. Ugh. Speaking of the first 250 words... I'll be posting that soon. :) Grumble, grumble, query letter, grumble.

Until next time, 

<3, Bethany

Monday, October 11, 2010

Query Redacted

Alright, so I've been trudging away at this query letter for months.

There are so many sources out there for query letters. Every single one of them tells you to do it differently. So what did I do? I read everything I could get my hands on. I went through the AbsoluteWrite forums and ready every critique on every query letter for pages upon pages. I read blogs - Nathan Bransford, QueryShark, Kristie Nelson. I read books. I wrote and rewrote and rewrote again. The key is putting as much effort into that letter as you did the book.

My book, itself, has been edited more times than I can even count. I did the same thing with my book as with the query - read every book I could find, took notes on what they did wrong (or right, of course) and went back and edited accordingly. I read genres that had nothing to do with the thriller or paranormal genre. I read romance books (which is how I found Kate Johnson... which is how I greatly improved my dialogue) - I read literary, I read YA - Seriously everything I could get my hands on. 

So what happened. After all that time, all that dedication, what happens now? 

Now I just hope that I did a good enough job. Is Martyr going to be the book that makes all my dreams come true? Sigh. I can only hope. If not, I'm kind of resolved with it, honestly. I mean, I have learned SO much from this book. As I'm starting new projects, I can already tell that I'll have much less editing to do. My writing is stronger. My new books will be better. I can only hope that I've done enough work on this one to weed out all of the initially weak parts.

So, in a mass, that's what this entire year has taught me. Everything I know about the writing craft. So even if this book doesn't make it to publishing, I've lost anything but a year of my time. 

Life hasn’t granted her many chances for friendship. Evelyn Harper would kill for the only friend she has. Or die for her. Whichever comes first.

Born with telepathy and mind control, she is no one’s damsel in distress. Evelyn has learned to save herself from everything life has to throw at her. Whether that be her drug abusing mom or a sexually abusive plague of potential step-fathers. She wasn’t, however, prepared for anyone like Chloe. Acerbic by nature, Evelyn finds herself drawn to the woman, touched by her frivolous thirst for life.

When Chloe’s father goes into debt with a powerful mafia family, members of his household start turning up dead. Scared her friend could be next, Evelyn goes on the offensive. With her knack for survival and a supernatural arsenal, Evelyn promises to pick the members off one by one. That is, if she isn’t killed in the process.

So, SO?  :)

Anyway, that's all I had to tell you all today. Once I get that query hashed out, I'll be posting some first chapter goodies.

Hopeful query submission date: October 22nd. 

<3, Bethany

Friday, October 8, 2010

Contest is over, now what?

So now that I don't have to worry about pushing the contest off the front page, I can post like a crazy woman again!

Let's see. Right now it's 1:25 in the morning. It's a Friday night and I've spent it working on my MS and perfecting my query letter. I have a social life, it just happens to encompass imaginary people for now. I'm sure Josh understands. Not so sure about the rest of the world. I forgot to ask.

I'm getting so close to having this submittable that it's making my skin itch. I'm so nervous, so excited and so damn ready to put MARTYR down and never touch it again. Not that it's bad (I swear), but I've read the entire thing close to 100 times. I haven't even read The Witching Hour that many times. Blasphemous, I know.

So I've come up with a list of agents to query to. The very first round is full of feelers, honestly. I have that one agent in my head, of course, that I will be DEVASTATED if she says no. So I'm going to wait on that one... give some time for the initial sting of rejection to take hold before I send it off to her.

It's kind of amazing how much we relay our hopes and dreams of publication on that of a lottery drawing. So much about querying is timing. It all depends on the mindset of the agent upon reading. I mean, unless you're horrible. Which I don't think that I am.

I just... sigh... I want this to happen so bad - but I'm only a spec on the entire writing community. A star in the Milky Way. How can I possibly hope to stand on the publication platform among writers who have entertained me for days on end. Am I out of my mind to even consider it?

No, I don't think I am. I mean, I'm a strong writer. I have ideas that are new, fresh ways of entertainment. I am worried about starting with something so commercial. It's either going to be my saving grace or my downfall. I'll either hear - this is commercial fiction! This is marketable! Or I'll hear... hmm. I've seen this before.

Which is so utterly contradictory it makes me rabid.

I guess, in the end, I just want someone to hold my hand and tell me I can do this. I want a close friend to read my book and tell me it's amazing. P.S. - I hate that my close friends and family have no interest in this whatsoever. If it wasn't for my beta readers, I would have gone insane a long time ago. Have I mentioned lately how much I want to hug every single one of them?

Seriously, my beta readers are the only reason I'm still going. To Willow, to Ebyss, to Jordan and most recently - To Kim - Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. 

Okay, well this is disjointed and I'm feeling a little vulnerable. I'm just super emotional. Apprehensive. Excited. Worried. Angry. Frustrated and overwhelmed. But also, I'm just happy to be writing, and to have characters in my head and on paper. Because that, really, is what being a writer is all about.

Much <3, Bethany

Contest Results!

So, the results are in! Thank you to all of you who submitted a total of 498 entries all together! I started off with 8 blog followers, and tripled that in large part to all your linking!

Also, sigh, there were so many entrants I couldn't give away just one prize. So I added a second and third place. Yeah, yeah. It's what I do. Thank you all so much!!!!

Third Place:

Congratulations! Send me the first 3 chapters of your MS here.

Second Place:

Congratulations! Send me your entire, yes your entire MS!

And the grand prize goes to:

Congratulations!! Please email me to claim your MS edit, gift card and get your link set up.

To all the other entrants, please enjoy this complimentary blog posting in all of your honors. Enjoy ;)

Hugh, Oh hugh.
Noms. Young Clint Eastwood.
Yvonne Stahovski (Don't worry guys, didn't forget about you)
Zachary Quinton as Sylar.

The two hottest people that have ever lived. Ever.

Much, much, love! More to come. 

<3, Bethany

Monday, October 4, 2010

Monday Interview - Kristie Cook

This summer, I stumbled across one of Kristie's interviews. She was so charismatic and fun that I was excited to read her first novel Promise. I was absolutely not disappointed! 

If you've ever been curious about self-publishing, this is person to get your information from. Her debut novel came out in July, and the sequel Purpose is schedule for release this fall. If you haven't had a chance to check out Promise yet - do it! 

To the interview - 

First off, the bio:

Kristie Cook is a lifelong writer in various genres, from marketing communications to fantasy fiction. Besides writing, she enjoys reading, cooking, traveling and riding on the back of a motorcycle. She has lived in ten states, but currently calls Southwest Florida home with her husband, three teenage sons, a beagle and a puggle. You can find her on her website, on Twitter, and on Facebook

When did you first decide that being a writer was the life for you?

When I was 8 years old and in the third grade, we had to write a short story. I wrote my first contemporary fantasy, about gnomes living in a cave and helping a brother and sister (both human) find their way out of the cave. I loved writing it and the teacher thought I was good – awarding me the only A in the class – and I decided I wanted to be a writer.

Nothing like good ole self-confidence to push you to write! 

Do you draw inspiration from real life? Where do the ideas come from?

Some from real-life and from asking what-if questions based on real life, religion, philosophy, etc. And some from other books, movies, television, video games, etc.

How long did it take you to finish your novel? How much of that was editing?

I wrote a beginning, middle and end – all 160,000 words of it! – in 6 weeks. I’ve been rewriting, revising and editing that into 2 books for over a year and a half now.

Oh my goodness! That is some epic writing. 

What’s your favorite genre to write?

contemporary fantasy / paranormal

What’s your favorite genre to read?

contemporary fantasy / paranormal / urban fantasy

What character of yours can you most relate to, and why?

Definitely Alexis, my MC. People see a lot more of me in her than I intended (but I think sometimes they make assumptions on things J). I know what it’s like to be raised by a single parent and to move around a lot. I wasn’t such a good girl, though, and, although I was often the outsider and incredibly shy (and still am), I didn’t have much problem making friends.

Favorite line from one of your books?

Um…all of them. I love this answer! ^_^ No, I guess that’s not true – there are many I wish I could go back and change now. It’s too hard to pick one, though. Pretty much anything Tristan says. J Oh, here’s one (I’ll let you guess what “it” is LOL): 

“The thing about men, Alexis, is they generally don’t find any of it wrong. In fact, the more wrong it is, the more they like it.”

Self-Publishing Questions. 

Why self-publishing?

It’s a natural fit for me. I’m impatient and have control issues, making traditional publishing difficult. I’m also an entrepreneur by nature and I see an opportunity in the publishing industry right now for new ways to achieve the goal of getting books from authors to readers. I also think authors should be more empowered. With traditional publishing, they are powerless. I hope that by learning the ropes with my own books, I can eventually help others accomplish their dreams of getting published.

Personally, I really admire those who have the power and confidence to go the self-publishing route. I just can't see Promise not doing well! I know I am waiting very impatiently for Purpose. 

How does it differ from the query, agent, editor, publisher process?

Drastically. With the traditional route, each step along the way is designed to shut an author out. There are good reasons for this – so publishers, which are for-profit companies, don’t shell out a ton of money on crap. I totally get it. But there are so many books being written and submitted these days, that many good ones go unnoticed because of the selection process. All these people along the way are making the decisions on what readers get to read. 

With self- or indie-publishing, you’re responsible for everything, but you also skip over all those other people and go straight to the most important decision-makers – the readers. If they like the blurb, they buy. If they like what they buy, they tell their friends. If they don’t, they either give bad reviews or don’t mention the book at all. Either way, the book’s sales fall instead of grow. With indie publishing, it’s between you and the reader. With traditional publishing, you have all those other people mixed in, too.

Where can readers find Promise?

It should be available more widely soon, but for now at:
Apple’s iBooks store for the iPad and iPhone
Various eBook formats at Smashwords 

Release date for Purpose?

Um…Fall 2010…as in, late Fall…but in time for the holiday season. 

Sigh, I'm totally squeeing like a fan girl. Haha! 

And finally, a little get-to-know. 

Favorite book? 

Too many! Unless I can say Purpose? J

And you can! 

Favorite movie or TV series: 

Right now, True Blood is/was all I watch on TV; Legends of the Fall is one of my all-time favorite movies

Do you have a writing playlist? What’s on it?

Depends on the book – a lot of 30 Seconds to Mars, Linkin Park, Breaking Benjamin, some U2, Smashing Pumpkins and Cranberries

What do you do when you’re not writing? 

Editing, working or sleeping. OK…sometimes you can find me wasting time on Twitter or Facebook, watching my son play football, hanging with my kids by the pool, reading, cooking, sitting on the beach or riding on a Harley.

Thank you so, so much for taking time to do an interview! For all the readers, hop out there and pick up a copy of Promise! Already have one? Then buy one for a friend, of course. 

More to come, of course. Leave some love in the comments for Kristie!

<3, Bethany

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Interview Series - Welcome CA Marshall!

While looking around on the blogging universe, sometimes we are lucky enough to happen upon a few lit business operatives that really help. Sometimes you happen upon a gem - whether it's an agent that is awesome with queries, a publisher with marketing advice or - in this case - an editor who knows a lot about a lot. 


My guest today is C.A. Marshall - a freelance editor, lit agent intern and YA writer. You can find her on her extremely helpful blog, or on Twitter


 First off, a little about who she is:
C.A. Marshall loves to play with her dog Mollie. She dreams of one day owning a small house near the water, preferably in England, with a shelf full of books she has written and has helped others to write.

Where does outside editing fit into the writing process?
Outside editing comes in when you've done all you can to make your MS as good as it can be. An editor can do something as simple as a quick copy edit or as exhaustive as a full edit for plot and pacing. A good editor will also let you know where your book stands in the current market and what you can do to give it the best chances. 

That's amazing, and certainly something we can all use! What specific services do you offer?
I specialize in copy and substantial edits, but I also do non-fiction proposal walk-throughs, synopsis editing, and offer free query help.

Favorite genre to read (professionally)?
YA. That goes for unprofessionally too.

Anything you don't represent?
No, I accept all sorts of novels.

Looking for specifics, contact information, rates or testimonials?

What about the market - are you seeing any kinds of trends in submissions?
Lots of memoir, romance, cop thrillers and still lots of paranormal YA. 

Can you recommend any saturated markets or plots to stay away from for right now?
Chick-lit, vampire/werewolf/angel/demon/Greek-themed YA.
Good to know! Any insight into what an agent might think when they happen upon yet another paranormal YA? Is there a market for them still, or are they getting rejected?
They're not auto-rejected, but it's very hard for them. There will always be room for superbly written stories, vampires or not.

For all of us query virgins and rookies - Mistakes to avoid?
Adressing your query to "Dear Sirs" when all of the employees are women. 

Haha! Oh no, that's rich. 

And finally, a little bit about C.A. Marshall, the person
Favorite book?
Gah... This is tough. Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey, Douglas Adams' Hitchhikers Guide series, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix... One of those, probably.

Order of the Phoenix - my favorite!

Favorite movie or TV series?
Another hard one. I don't ever watch TV, but I do watch lots of movies. Jurassic Park, Fly Away Home, The Family Stone, The original Death at a Funeral, Disney's The Gnome Mobile... I'm eclectic. 

Do you have a working playlist? What’s on it?
Soundtracks. Pearl harbor (also a fav movie), Snow Falling On Cedars, Pride & Prejudice (2005), Fly Away Home, The Constant Gardener, Series of Unfortunate Events, Road to Perdition, Braveheart, House of Sand and Fog, Pan's Labyrinth, The Other Boleyn Girl, The Illusionist, Finding Neverland, Contact, The Time Machine, Whalerider, just loads and loads and loads! Also, anything by Lifehouse (my fav band), Owl City, And Kate Rusby.

What do you do when you’re not working?
Play with my dog, sleep, craft, and play Lego Harry Potter Wii!

Many, many thanks for stopping by and letting us inside your head a little! 

Also, if all of these services sound pretty amazing, I suggest you take a look at this link. Until today (Sept. 20th) she is running a contest on her blog to win a FREE MANUSCRIPT EDIT. For such an amazing prize, you should get on retweeting that contest like crazy. 

Leave some love for Cassandra for being amazing!

<3, Bethany

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Okay, For You New Kids - What I'm Doing

That's right folks! Double entries. Click the button for the Query Submission Contest where you can sign up to win some great prizes.

Thank you all so, so much for the emailed questions! I've been getting tons of support and questions both via email and via Facebook messages. It makes me feel really good to know that there are people who care. You're all great and make me know every single day that I'm not alone on this elusive track known as publishing.

So here are a few questions I want to clear up.

Q: Are you already published?
A: No, not at all! I'm aspiring for sure, and querying my first set of agents. Publication is much harder than just writing a book - there's a lot of post work involved. Publication could be years off for me, if it even happens for this book at all. It's likely this book won't be published. And if not, that's okay. You know? I love writing, and I'll keep doing it until the end of time even if everyone I know tells me to give it up. I love telling stories. If it's not this book, I'll write another and another until I'm strong enough in my writing and connections to make something happen for me.

Q: What happens after you write a book? (From a family member :) )
A: Basically, now that I have a product, I have to sell it. The first thing I have to "sell" is my idea - which is what the query is - a 4-5 paragraph essay telling agents who read THOUSANDS of these things why mine is the one they should represent. Sometimes they ask for a synopsis, or the blue print for my work. That's a 1-5 page detailed description of what my novel is about, beginning to end.
If I do get an agent, they'll pander my work out to publishing editors, who bid on my work. They edit it, give it back and tell me to fix it, and I do. After that... from what I understand... it goes into stuff about contracts etc.
So yes, I'm in that sending-out-my-first-batch-of-queries stage. Just my first batch. Which means I've barely grazed the surface of all this.

Q: What is your book about? 
A: Sigh. There it is, I've been called out.
So here's the problem with getting published. I can't write a query. For the life of me, I just can't do it. I keep getting the EXACT same feedback. But, for the sake of those of you that keep asking... this is generally what my book is about.
--- I have two main point of views that alternate throughout the chapters. The first, Evelyn, is a sarcastic and malevolent little gem. Cursed (gifted?) with the ability to not only hear, but to control the thoughts of others, she keeps to herself. She hails from a world filled with abuse, drugs and constant fear - so when she happens upon Chloe, the overly happy daughter of a controversial senator, she's intrigued. When she hears Chloe's cries for help from a mile away, she runs to her and puts herself in harm's way to save her from a vicious kidnapper.
Chloe, feeling lost and alone, clings to Evelyn - the last person in the world with the temperament to put up with her. Over a very short course of time, Evelyn comes to like Chloe and feels strangely protective of her. Together, the two find happiness in each other and the successes of life, achievement of goals and their own separate romances.
Kieran - the other point of view - is the 4th in line to a very powerful mafia family in the grip of a fierce power struggle. When events point the family at Evelyn, he is chosen to stalk to her to learn more about her power.
In the end, the two collide on separate missions. Kieran wants to protect Evelyn who willing puts herself in the path of the family to protect Chloe. Even with Kieran's influence and Evelyn's superhuman abilities, the two are wrapped up in a deadly game of power, deception and torture that could lead to both of their deaths.

See how longwinded all of that is? Sigh. That's why I can't write a query.

Q: So, what now? What are you doing?
A: I'm writing, of course. :) I've put Martyr aside for a little while so I can go back at it with fresh eyes prior to sending out another batch of queries to people I really, really want to represent me. I'm working hard on my query, and will post rewrites on here for you all to see and edit soon.

I'm also working on other books. I have 5 separate books in my "idea" folder. The one I'm focusing on the most right now is about two woman who take on a rouge dictator on a newly developed Mars colony. It's currently untitled, but it's plotted out completely.

Q: Can we see some of Martyr? 
A: Hmm... actually, yes. Not right now. But I'll probably post an excerpt sometime in the coming week -- probably when I post my first bad query letter. :)

Now - on top of all that - I have some GREAT interviews lined up for you!!

I have a literary editor, a self-published author, a photographer and a best-selling author gracing the page in the next month. Interviews you DON'T want to miss! The lovely Ebyss was gracious enough to be my first guest. You can find her interview here.

Much more to come!

<3, Bethany

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The First in the Interview Series - Please Welcome Ebyss!

Yes, yes. These are supposed to be on Mondays. But since this is a strange week, we're doing it on a Wednesday.

I'm very, very honored for my first guest to be the talented and lovely Ebyss - a woman I'm lucky enough to consider a friend. (Not to mention an AMAZING beta-reader!)

You can find her on Twitter , Facebook or on her Blog . She hosts her own author interviews and has quite a few big names and interesting women! She currently has an awesome novel, PERFECTION (pictured below) out in queries right now. I was lucky enough to beta this work, and you should all be very excited for the day it goes to publication. A VERY good read.

Now down to the dirty.

Alright, tell me about you:
I live with one husband, two male cats, and three boys. I'm surrounded by testosterone. I think it saturates my clothes. I have a daughter, but she is grown and laughs at me from her house.

Daughters are good for laughing. I do it to my own mom frequently. ^_^ 

First set of questions - The Writing Process 

When did you first decide that being a writer was the life for you?
It's kind of funny because I always wanted to write. I loved writing stories when I was a kid.
Then when I was twenty (I won't bother you with the details of how long ago that was) I thought about it again, but I never did. Didn't think I had the talent, then I had kids, then I had to work, then this and then that.
Then one day about five years ago, my daughter came to me and said this would make a cool story. It was about a boy, half dragon and half human, and I had agreed. My daughter is great, I would bounce ideas off her and she'd offer me suggestions.
And from their my first manuscript was born. It's dormant in a file now. But one day I plan on taking it out and fixing it. And boy... does it need a lot of fixin'.

So what is Perfection about? 
Based upon the concept of Aryan purity, Ellyssa is genetically engineered to be the perfect soldier: strong, intelligent, unemotional, and telepathic.  Her purpose?  To eradicate inferior beings.  A task she's spent her whole life training for under the strict guidance of her creator.

Then she encounters the epitome of inferiority--a dark-haired renegade.  He speaks to her by pushing his thoughts of a place she's never visited into her mind.  An inconceivable possibility since she is the one who usually does the psychic picking.  Not only that, but he's clearly not from her society.  A substandard person who should not possess such an extraordinary gift.

Yet he does and his unspoken words initiate a catalyst.  Ellyssa finds herself questioning her indoctrination and, even worse, feeling emotions.  Confused and afraid her creator will discover her mental breakdown, Ellyssa runs away from her life and embarks on a journey that leads to the realization there is more to her than what she was bred to be. 

Unfortunately, her creator has other plans.

I'm super jealous of your ability to write a good query. What else are you working on?

Right now, I'm working on two projects.
The first is the sequel to PERFECTION.
The other I have decided to take a fairytale and modernize it. It's a well known fairytale, but hasn't been brought into the here and now. Well, at least that I know of. I thought that would be a fun project.

Do you draw inspiration from real life? Where do the ideas come from?
I've asked authors and writers this, and it is really a hard question to answer. You, Beth, kind of gave me the spark for PERFECTION. ^_^
As far as drawing from real life. Yes, I think I do, at least for my characters. I try to think how people would act in a certain type of situation, then base my reactions and dialogue from there.

Always glad to help! On your writing projects - how much of it was writing and how much of it was editing?

My first one, KRELIS, took a year and a half. I edited it for about a year. Always trying to fix it, always trying to make it better, always trying to follow every rule. I edited so much I wrote my voice right out of it, along with all the essentials of a good story.
I learned a lot from KRELIS.
DARK ABYSS--From conception of idea to being finished, about a year. Editing took about three months.
PERFECTION--started last summer, put away, started again in December of '09, finished in beginning of April, and had it edited by the beginning of June. But I still make changes to it here and there. Just a couple of weeks ago, I made a small rewrite of the first page based on a suggestion from a friend.
Long ago, I have come to the conclusion that whatever you write, it will never be perfect. There will always be a sentence that could be phrased better, or maybe a better word. By the time I finish with the first draft of a manuscript, I climb aboard the perpetual Ferris-wheel of rewrites.

Anyone involved in creative writing can definitely relate to that. We aim for perfection (aye! no pun intended), but what we end up with is something everyone else thinks is great, and we think isn't done yet!

What’s your favorite genre to write?
I write young adult. But as far the genre from there, I don't have one. So far I have written a fantasy, a paranormal romance, a dystopian, and as I said, I'm working a fairytale.

What about to read?
That is easy..horror, fantasy, dystopian, paranormal, some sci-fi. Young adult and adult. The list goes on and on and on.

Alright, hard question - which one of your characters do you most relate to?
I'd have to say they all have a little bit of me in there. Maybe not much, nothing more than a shimmer, but I'm in there. So it's a little hard for me to say I can relate to just one.

Please, please can we have an excerpt from Perfection? Can you give us a favorite line?
Oh.. I have two.. can I share two. I'm going to share two. And actually they aren't lines but passages of dialogue. Can I do that? Well if not, then you can just delete them. I would never censor you!
“That is not true.” He gathered her hands in his and kissed her fingers. “Why did you leave The Center? Why did you come here? Look at all you have experienced--how much you’ve grown. Sorrow, compassion, friendship, betrayal, loneliness, loss, acceptance, and happiness." He paused and cupped her cheek. "I’ve seen you truly happy. Smiling. Laughing.”

“It is true I have never loved,” she said. “I have nothing to compare it to. But how did I know the feeling I had at Jordan’s death was loss, or that sadness was sadness, or betrayal, betrayal? My life, sheltered as it was, oblivious to the wonderful things life has to offer, family and friends, a sense of truly belonging. Never feeling, only surviving, fighting. I felt these reactions, my body responded. I have laughed. I have cried.” She brushed her lips against his. “Because of you, I love.”

Last Part - A little about Ebyss, the person.
Favorite book: My all time favorite book is MISERY by Stephen King. When crazy Annie Wilkes hobbled the author, I experienced sympathy pains. I'd have to say that this was probably the only book turned to movie that I absolutely love too.
Favorite movie or TV series: Big Bang Theory and Vampire Diaries
Do you have a writing playlist? What’s on it? For PERFECTION: Hope by Apocalyptica, Dance Inside by All American Rejects, Just a Girl by No Doubt Just to name a few.
What do you do when you’re not writing? Complain that I'm not writing. Or I might be at work--still complaining (even if its internally) that I'm not writing. Oh... I do this too, I'm thinking about all the stuff that I could be writing.

And that, all you lucky people, is a journey inside the mind of one of tomorrow's best sellers. :) Hope you enjoy, and I have some more great guests lined up for you in the coming weeks! 

 Tons of <3, Bethany

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Query Submission Contest!!

Now that I'm on that last leg, it's time to do some networking.

Drawing at 4PM CST Oct 8th -- That's today!!

Rules: To enter, just post a comment on this post. Then tada, you're entered! Or you can email me if you'd rather. Gain more entries by throwing my name about the internet shamelessly. Blog me, Tweet me, Facebook me - basically link me all over the place. It's that easy. You get bonus entries for already supporting me via various channels, and a very lucky few get a whopping 10 bonus entries for volunteering as beta readers.

The Prize:
1) A full manuscript edit. The entire thing, whether 70,000 words or 140,000. If it's good, I have a couple more volunteers for you as well. Not a writer? You can gift this out to anyone!
2) A permanent link and bio on my blog. Creative minds get a personalized interview linked to it. 
3) A $25 gift card to use on whatever you want.

As for contest entries --- simply comment on this thread so I know you are entered!! Here's how the point system spreads out:

Blog about this contest - 5 entries
Tweet or share this contest to Facebook - 2 entries (for each post!)
Already subscribe to my blog - 5 entries
Already follow me on Facebook or Twitter - 3 entries
Become a new subscriber to any of the above channels - 1 entry
Commenting on a post - 1 entry
Refer someone to the blog - 3 entries.
WERE YOU REFERRED? Click the contact me tab at the top of the page. Send me a message with the name of the person who referred you. Win them 3 entries!
Commenting on a blog with the below picture at the top - 2 entries.

It really is that easy. Just tell me on this post that you're entering, and I'll keep tally of your blog contributions - you keep me updating on your sharing posts. On October 9th, your names will all get one slip of paper per entry - and (yes, I'm serious) I'll draw one name out of a hat!

So win the easiest manuscript review and $25 dollars of your life, and spread this contest around.

<3, Bethany

Sigh. Overwhelmed.

After 6 months of writing, and another 7 months of editing, my querying process has begun.

So where does that leave me? Botching attempt after attempt at writing an acceptable query.

It's overwhelming frustrating. I keep getting the EXACT SAME feedback: "If this were on a back of a book, I'd never pick it up." --- Which is supremely disappointing after hearing them rave about  how much they like what they've read of my chapters.

So what do I do?

Give up. 
Yell loudly.
Throw things.
Keep rewriting until I get it right.

I've got my edits done, and I'm rereading through for content right now, noting things of interest. I want to go from: "Hey, your book's great but this proposal sucks." to "Hey, this is awesome. Can I read more?"

On top of all that, I'm starting a contest soon. I'm also going to be advancing the blog. I'm going to start a series of writing process guest posts and interviews - to give people like me a place to refer to for advice and struggles of the writing process. I think more than anything, it's important to know that we are not the first people to face these issues - and that we are literally thousands strong all over the country.

I guess maybe I'm just feeling a little overwhelmed. I need to get this query done. Why is it so hard?

Nevermind --- I already know. Because it's worth it. Dreams don't come easy. You have to fight like hell for them.

So that's what I'll do.

More to come.

<3, Bethany