Writing Requires Copious Amounts of Ice Cream

The highs and lows in writing are so extreme I should probably be on some sort of medication. I’m a sensitive person to begin with and these days I see my mood being directly related to my writing. It’s such a personal journey, which makes it hard NOT to be affected. This is why ice cream was invented.

Or wine, if that’s more your thing. I’m not much of a drinker (though my characters tend to be lushes) and I’ve been trying to eat better and exercise. So it makes perfect sense I spend my time like this:

 

or

A good writing day can put me in a great mood. Meanwhile a bad writing day makes the overall day dark and gray. But this part is easier to control. When I send my baby out into the world the real highs and lows come into play. 

A beta loves my story: happy ice cream time!
An agent rejects a query: crying ice cream time!
A request: happy ice cream time!
A bad review: crying ice cream time!

Our books are our babies and it’s so hard to keep perspective. To be clear, I keep my internal emotional roller coaster internal. I share with friends if I need a shoulder to cry or squeal on. I do NOT take out any manic depressive moods on the person providing the feedback (unless it’s a manic hug, those rock!). I understand what is my own personal reaction and deal with it appropriately.

Not that ice cream is always appropriate. Wait, scratch that. Ice cream is ALWAYS appropriate!

At the end of the day, the highs and lows may be difficult and tiresome. I’m writing for a reason. It’s in my soul. There are stories to be told, characters to create. I need to write. It fulfills me. When I’m not writing a little part of me slowly dies.

The end will justify the means. Until then, I may end up looking like this:

Author Spotlight: The Guardian, a Sword, & Stilettos by Kristin D. Van Risseghem

I’m so excited to post my second spotlight this week! Come meet another writer friend of mine and her debut Young Adult Urban Fantasy!

Ebook- Guardian_FINAL3

Links: Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo

Blurb:

Zoe Jabril could be just another 17-year-old girl attending parties with her friends and checking out cute guys—except her best friend is a Guardian Angel, and the boy she crushes on is a Nephilim, half-Angel, both sent to Earth to protect her. A high school classmate happens to be a trendsetting shopaholic Fairy. And now there’s a new Werewolf in town.

Zoe has to deal with her feelings toward Shay, who spreads a strange electrical current through her body every time he touches her. She is under constant attack from Demons, trying to kill and stop her from fulfilling the Prophecy: a girl will be born who will unite the Enlightens to battle evil. Then on top of that, between boring homework and drama with girls at school, she has to control new found talents if she’s to prevent the Devil from escaping Hell.

In order to do so, Zoe must devise a kick-ass plan ASAP or watch everyone die, because she’s running out of time. She turns eighteen in two months—the date Armageddon kicks off.

Now for some fun questions and answers with the author!

Q: Can you pick a favorite line from your latest work (or the work being highlighted) and tell us why this is your favorite?
A:
It’s not a line but a scene: This close, my rescuer—Shay Curator, apparently—had long, powerful legs which fit nicely in his black jeans. He wore black biker boots, and a black T-shirt hugged his upper torso, the sleeves barely contained a set of rippling biceps. I imagined he was trying unsuccessfully to hide what would no doubt be an impressive six pack. In sharp contrast to his dark clothes, he had fair skin. Even though he was over six feet tall, he had moved with catlike grace.

Q: Tell us a little bit about what motivates or inspires your writing. (Why do you write? What made you want to become a writer? What purpose do you believe writers fulfill as artists?)

A: I took a lit course in highschool and a reading one in college. Didn’t think anything of it but enjoyed writing and reading back then. I started reading as something to do before I met my husband. Then when Twilight came out, a group of friends created a book club and it’s been downhill ever since. I read a ton. My cousin started writing and she asked me to (beta) read for her. I did but didn’t really know what I was doing. One of her friends asked me to read one of hers too so I did b/c my cousin said that my comments were spot on.

Then in January 2013 I dreamed of the warehouse scene. Didn’t think anything of it until the next night I had the same dream in the warehouse. Woke my husband up and told him about it. He said I should write it down. Of course I didn’t. The 3rd night, I dreamed of the tattoo and knew I had to start getting it down on paper so to speak. I started writing when I got home from work and wrote until the wee hours of the morning, so 7-8 hours at a time. Go to sleep a few hours and get up for work. Did that for 3 weeks.

Q: What is the name of your blog (include the URL) and what can readers expect to find there? (If you don’t have a blog, explain why. Also consider adding insight as to how you have worked to develop a readership.)

A: My blogity blog about nothing really: http://www.kristinvanrisseghem.com/blog. I don’t blog regularly, but what you find are writing tips, author spotlights, cover reveals, and upcoming contests.

Q: What does your drafting and/or editing process entail? (In general, how do you get the writing done? Are you disciplined or more spur of the moment? Do you participate in a critique group, utilize online critique partners or beta readers, or mostly self-edit? Do you hire a professional to critique or provide editing services?)

A: The Guardian, a Sword, & Stilettos was written in three weeks. I wrote at night and into the morning hours. It just seemed to flow out of me. In my head the story unfolded chronologically. Once it was fully written, I joined three writing groups and eventually created my own, too. But now I’m only in one of them and I found another that I really enjoy. I have used both beta and critique partners who do line-by-line edits, plus I have hired a professional editor to do the final read through.

Q: Are you traditionally published or self-published? (Why did you choose that path? Do you hire help for tasks like text formatting, book covers, and promotion?)

A: I queried like I’m sure a lot of writers do, but didn’t get any hits. Then I sent subs directly to the publishers where I was offered three contracts, one of which I signed. But about four months later I asked to be released from the contract. When I started writing, I started a company under Kasian Publishing (pronounced K-Asian), so technically I’m both because I am my own publisher. I hired out for editing, formatting and covers, but I am doing all the promotion myself.

Q: Can you offer one or two helpful tips for fellow writers when it comes to marketing and publicity? (What specifically has worked for you? What’s the best advice you’ve received in this area?)

A: This might be a very common answer, but social media is a must these days. You as an author need to be found by your readers. So I have a website, FB-Author page, Twitter and Goodreads accounts. I do keep a personal FB page separately though as I try to keep my professional/personal life separate from my writing life. Brand yourself! You need to sell yourself and be a believable and legit author before readers will take you seriously. There are many free websites and places to help you, just make sure that it looks professional. And when in doubt? Ask other writers. At some point we’ve all been there.

Q: What future projects can we look forward to?

A: I have planned The Enlighten Series to be a trilogy with two novellas. I have the first novella, The Masquerade, an Altar, & a Fairy, scheduled to release in August 2015. But after this series? I’m not sure. I guess where ever the pen (or in my case, the keyboard) takes me.

Pro Head Shot

Author Bio:

Kristin D. Van Risseghem grew up in a small river town in Minnesota with her parents and older sister. And after receiving a double Bachelor of Science degree from Winona State University in Paralegal and Corrections, she worked as a Paralegal for various law firms around the Twin Cities for 14 years. Then she left the legal field and is now a Senior Buyer for a technology company. Currently, Kristin lives in Eagan with her husband and two Calico cats. She also loves attending book clubs, going shopping, and hanging out with friends. She has come to realize that she absolutely has an addiction to purses and shoes. They are her weakness and probably has way too many of both. In the summer months, Kristin can usually be found lounging on her boat, drinking an ice cold something. Being an avid reader of YA and Women’s Literature stories, she still finds time to read a ton of books in-between writing. And in the winter months, her main goal is to stay warm from the Minnesota cold! Kristin’s first book, The Guardian, a Sword, & Stilettos, will be published in May 2015 by Kasian Publishing!

Website                        |           Twitter             |           Facebook

The Writer’s Voice Entry

For my regular readers: below is a contest entry, displaying my query and first 250 words of one of my novels.

Dear Writer’s Voice,

I would like to present my New Adult Contemporary Romance for your consideration. SILENCE is complete at 84,000 words

As a college senior, Carli Reynolds’ goals in life are simple: survive her classes, mask her hearing loss, and suppress her debilitating headaches. If she succeeds, no one will know her internal daily struggle. Goals one and two all but combust when “Hot New Deaf Guy,” Reed, introduces her to a world where hearing loss is not a disadvantage. He breaks her hotness scale as her world shifts off balance.

Carli’s disability has hung over her head her entire life, care of her perfectionist father. Through Reed’s hands, her invisible scars heal. He convinces her to learn ASL. For the first time in her life something comes naturally to her. With him she starts to feel whole.

Reed discovers her debilitating headaches when she’s stranded without her pain meds. Headaches he deems not normal. Carli continues to straddle the line between hearing and deaf. When Reed discovers she’s abusing her pain pills, she’ll have to decide once and for all to embrace her hearing loss and Reed—or shun them both.

Like Carli, I wear two hearing aids. I’ve been Hard of Hearing since birth and have a degree in Deaf Studies from Boston University, a location SILENCE is loosely based on.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,
Laura Brown

First 250:

The minute the professor opened his mouth I knew it would be a long semester. The muffled sound struck a vein deep inside my skull, vibrating a nodule of tension destined to trigger one of my frequent headaches. I slid my hand up under my long brown hair, scratched my cheek as a decoy, and then ran my finger over the microphone of one hearing aid. Static rang loud and clear, confirming my suspicions. My hearing aids were fine.

The professor was the problem.

His booming voice ricocheted an accent off the walls of the small classroom. An accent I identified as…not from around here. Dr. Ashen’s thick, bushy mustache covered his top lip. He said something to the class and gestured to our textbook. Around me, students shifted, pages turned, pens moved.

I shifted too and flicked my pen against a random page of my thick book. Nerves battled with complete and utter boredom. Words spilled from his bottom lip and I couldn’t understand one fucking sound. Survival skill 101 of having a hearing loss: blend in. I’d grown skilled at blending, to the point where I had almost mastered the task of invisibility. No cloak required. Take that, Harry Potter.

I always, always, always heard my teachers. Until now.

Big Fuck Off Mustache + My Ears = Not Happening.

Mr. Scary Mustache glared my way. He tapped his textbook, and went right on speaking.

I couldn’t see his book, tapping it did not let me know what page we were on.

Author Spotlight: KISS THE STARS by Alice Bell

I’m so fortunate that this week I get to spotlight not one but two debut novels! Here’s the first one, with a cover I’m in love with!

kiss the stars_amazon

Blurb:

Irresistible desire. Deadly consequences.

Awkward, gifted and lonely, 21-year old Ruby struggles to navigate the social hierarchy at the private academy where she teaches and is shunned by her co-workers. When she encounters Devon—tall, dark and mysterious—she thinks he is a kindred spirit, another lost soul.

With only fractured memories of his past, Devon is lost. He doesn’t know who (or what) he has become. He only knows he possesses strange powers: supernatural strength and speed, the ability to seduce a woman with a single touch.

What Devon doesn’t know can hurt Ruby. He is the most dangerous kind of predator—impossible to resist. He feeds off human emotion and Ruby, haunted by her own troubled past, is the perfect prey.

As Ruby grows weaker, Devon grows stronger.

With her life and her sanity unraveling, Ruby finds herself remembering strange events from her days in a sanitarium where she was treated for anxiety. When she finds an article torn from an old newspaper, with Devon’s picture on it, she is shocked by what she learns. But only Devon comprehends what is truly at stake.

He is broken, designed to put his dark needs before all else. Yet somewhere—buried deep—fragments of his shattered humanity remain. Is Devon still human enough to save Ruby from himself? Or will the monster inside him claim both their souls?

Excerpt:

Part 1

The nearness of death didn’t feel like I thought it would. It wasn’t heavy and cold. It was like butterflies in your stomach, like looking down from somewhere high, like driving too fast, like kissing.

* * *

Devon

The annoying squeak of a wheel, somewhere in the distance, caught my attention. Honing in, I picked up the sound of breath. Excited, female.

I was on the edge of town, walking under the full moon, hands shoved into the pockets of my jeans. I passed a lone car with a rear flat parked under a burned out street lamp. The car was a real beast from the last century, a pink Cadillac de Ville with jutting fins, whitewall tires and a certain monstrous gleam.

When I rounded the corner, I found her.

She wore a short pink dress and fishnet stockings. Platform shoes added about six inches to her height. Her legs were slender. She pulled a pink suitcase over the cracked sidewalk. Wow, you don’t see that every day. Her hair was bright and high, piled up and ratted into a fuchsia cloud. She hurried. Her shadow, cast by the moon, evoked the Bride of Frankenstein.

I slid behind a tree, in order to watch her and maybe track her. She whirled around, her eyes probing the length of the block. “Who’s there?” she called. I was nothing more than a sudden breeze. And yet, her gaze landed on me, as if I’d been clumsy. She came straight toward me, the wheels of her suitcase whirring. “What are you doing?” her voice stretched thin.

She wore too much paint. Bright red lips, black smudged around her eyes.

“Just headed home,” I said.

She backed away.

Wait…”

Her already wide eyes grew wider. Any second now, she would notice I was sexy. “You shouldn’t be out here this time of night,” I said. “Are you scared?”

She emitted a scornful pssht and seemed about to say something but checked her watch, instead. It was a slender gold bracelet. She grasped the handle of her suitcase. Her nails were painted blue. They were very short. “I have to go,” she acted like I was holding her up.

She walked away, pulling her suitcase. The squeaky wheel complained.

“Bye,” I whispered, when she stopped at the corner. She crossed the street, in a hurry again, but trying to appear otherwise. I realized it was her pink Cadillac and she’d been too afraid to ask for help. Women were never afraid of me. I was built to rip bodices.

About the Author:

I was born in northern California and grew up in Washington and Oregon in houses where there were always a lot of books. I was irresistibly drawn to books, long before I could read. Somehow, I knew they would give me what I wanted most in life. I went on to graduate kindergarten with honors. But I figured I was done with school, after that. I got what I came for. I had the secret code now and could access magical worlds. What else was there? But my parents wouldn’t let me stay home and read, so eventually, I graduated from high school too, but not with honors. After working a series of odd jobs, including theft counseling, I decided to go back to school and see if I could earn a degree by reading, which resulted in a BA in English (but not an end to odd jobs).

Website: Alice Bell

Connect:  Google 
 Pinterest

Author Spotlight: FABLED by Vanessa K. Eccles

I’m so thrilled to spotlight another one of my friend’s debut novels. This is one where I read the excerpt and then promptly bought my copy! I can’t wait to read! Be sure to read to the end for a chance to win your own copy!

Ever dreamed of a life that reads more like a book? Rowena did until she stumbled into a fairy tale that wasn’t so friendly.

 

dark night forest agaist full moon

dark night forest agaist full moon

Fabled by Vanessa K. Eccles

Publisher: Bound and Brewed

Young adult fantasy/fairy tale

Rowena thinks the Grimm’s infamous podcasts are simply another teen fad until she finds herself trapped in a land of nightmarish storybook characters. She tries desperately to flee Mezzanine and return home, but Dresdem, Mezzanine’s wicked monarch, plans to use Rowena’s access to her world to bring dark magic and absolute rule into Georgia and beyond.

But when Rowena’s dear friend Madeline falls into Dresdem’s grasp, her battle with him becomes war, and all hopes of home are temporarily thwarted. With the help of an invisible hero, a beast, and an owl, she sets out to free Madeline from a deadening sleep. But Rowena must become her own hero when she finds herself bound by the kingdom’s darkest family. She must make the ultimate choice – align herself with her enemies or live on the run forever.

Excerpt:

“Heads or tails?” Lil asked as she opened the door and stood in front of me.

“Tales.”

“When are you going to learn that heads always wins?” She snickered and rolled her eyes in amazement of my apparent naivety.

“Not always. Besides, tales are more interesting.”

Not understanding my word play, she shrugged and searched her pockets for a coin.

I leaned into the porch swing, coffee and book in hand, and watched as autumn’s first leaves sunsetted the deadening grass. I rested the mug on my knee and let the cool breeze sway me back and forth while I waited.

Trying to ignore my little sister’s attempts to aggravate me, I looked down at the fantastical book in my hands and realized how beloved, yet unrealistic it seemed. Most of us lead relatively dull lives and are content but never satisfied. The “happily ever afters” they crammed in our minds as children were merely lies, but I couldn’t help but dream of an adventure like the one I was holding. I wanted my life to be epic. Who was I kidding? Only characters in our favorite stories experienced magical lives. Mine had already been planned out for me − go to college, land a mediocre job, get married, and have 1.8 perfectly groomed, smiling children. That was it. The end.

Links: Amazon | Goodreads | Smashwords

 VanessaKEccles_Headshot

Meet the Author: Vanessa K. Eccles graduated Troy University with a degree in English. She currently serves as executive editor of Belle Rêve Literary Journal and is founder of the book blog YA-NASisterhood. When she’s not writing or devouring books, she enjoys the lake life with her Prince Charming and their four dogs.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Judging an Unread Book

Confession: I judge books by their covers.

I always have. I look for a cover that sparks my interest, and then I check out the back cover blurb. If the back cover further intrigues me, then I’ll check out the first page.

This all seemed innocent enough, regardless of the phrase “Never judge a book by its cover.” Until I became a writer myself. Then I realized the harsh truth:

I’m judging a book on something the author may have no say over.

Depending on how a book is published, the author may retain total say or no say over the cover. There will be other limitations: model options, photo rights and availability, publishing line requirements. A cover can mean diddly squat about the novel itself.

As for the back cover, sometimes that’s written by the author. Sometimes it’s not. Regardless, those little blurbs are the bane of most writers existence. We’ve just written a novel between 60-90k words, on average. And now we need to summarize all those beautiful, brilliant, wonderful words, to 200. Or less. And if you are talking about Facebook/Twitter/E-mail blurbs, well now we’re down to 140 characters in some cases.

140 characters, out of a 90k word novel. For kicks and giggles I looked up what my 87,000 word novel translates into characters: 355,000. Down to 140. Why don’t you just shoot me.

These blurbs are hard. There isn’t a writer I know of who doesn’t pull at their clothes, stomp their feet, and hiss at the screen while writing these up. The blurb goes through more drafts, more eyes, more revisions than the novel itself.

The worst part? That blurb is what is going to make a reader/reviewer/agent/editor take notice. Before you can even get to the 60-90k beautiful words, you need to hook your audience.

Even after realizing all of this, I still judge a book by a cover. But I don’t do it to the same extent. In fact, some days I don’t see the cover at all. I get e-mail book deals and there are times the cover image doesn’t load. I love these times, because a bad cover won’t influence me. No, now I’m influenced by the 140 character type blurb.

But what is different now, is that if my interest is grabbed in any way shape or form, I always, always, always look at the first paragraph. I let the author’s own words be the deciding factor. I know, I might be looking at these promotional words based on nothing the author herself has done. At the end of the day it will be her words that make the read enjoyable.

The next time you judge a book, take a moment to think of who you are really judging.