Monday, March 28, 2016

How do you research your fiction?

Dear Kim,

Thank you for the note about Book Reviews. You are right; they are so important for the health of a book, and a way to support other writers. Today I have a slightly different take on a book review for you. This post wasn't meant to be a book review. I really just wanted to chat with you about research in fiction. But a review of a gripping book just appeared. You'll see.

I was at the Foundation last week and a fellow young adult author was sitting with me. We got to talking about our "process" in writing genre fiction. While she said the Internet was the only tool that she used for research, I think she discounted all of the hours she spent drinking in pop culture, eye-binging Dexter, and reading the many fictional worlds that she and I talked over.

My research method is much like the above when I'm writing a first draft: internet, pop culture, reading for pleasure; however, when I'm in draft-percolation-mode, I dig for more content to influence my next draft(s).

While writing my first draft I let my characters (and eventually the outline) guide me to the end. (I wrote a bit about that process here.) And in the end...There are words. (Not all the words are great. I can change them.) There are also subplots. (Not all of the subplots are evenly woven. I can repair them.) There are characters. (Not all characters change. I can develop them.) I know a first draft is just the first step. I like what comes next. It is the point in my process when I rationalize extra Netflix time, more reading, and more internet. It is time to research.

For my book, Killer: A Love Story, about a school shooter, I wrote the first draft quickly. The characters haunted me, so I tried to race right into revisions. It didn't work. I hadn't stuck to my "process". No letting the draft sit idle for some time (the old "into the desk" reference, if you will) while I researched.

You remember that first revision, Kim. It sucked. The characters were no richer in that revision than they were in draft #1. Nothing to do but put the book away until I took time to research.

That's what I've been up to lately. Research for Killer. I read Sue Klebold's memoir: A Mother's Reckoning; Phil Chalmer's Inside the Mind of a Teen Killer; a few articles, most notably, Inside the Race to Stop the Next Mass Shooter; and reread/listened to some fiction on school shootings. (Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult; Shooter by Walter Dean Myers; Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick.) I watched Season Two of American Crime, in real time each week, and it felt like taking a class in plot and grief. Most recently I read This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp. Finishing this book was the last piece of research I needed. It left me hollowed, yet ready to return to my own Killer.

Nijkamp's story took us into the heart of a school shooting. Multiple narrators told about the 54 minutes on campus with the shooter. What I appreciated most was that we heard from four student bystanders, not the shooter's point of view. We were given enough information about the shooter to make the story believable, but not so much as to make it a story about him. Instead we learned about loyalty, love, and hope, even in the darkest of circumstances.
While some of the story was difficult to read (as one might expect), Nijkamp made us care about the four narrators-- about how their lives wove together and about whether or not they would survive the harrowing day. We felt the intensity. We tried to comprehend the choices. We cried alongside all four as they watched friends and family die.

It seems wrong to say this book (really any book about school shootings) is "good". I will say that This Is Where It Ends handles the topic with great dignity and I appreciate Nijkamp's storytelling.

My Killer is different from any of the shooters I researched. However, I know my time spent researching-- the reading, watching, and listening, will deepen the story I want to tell. Research in fiction informs the story's believability, but more importantly, I think, this type of research readies writers' minds to produce richer work. 

I'll pass along This Is Where It Ends when I see you on Wednesday.


Thursday, March 24, 2016

Book Reviews: Why They're Important and a Review of Ratgirl: The Song of the Viper by Gayle C. Krause

Dear Alison,

I do love book recommendations. Sometimes my #TBR pile resembles the leaning tower of Pisa. If I discover that a book towards the bottom of pile is a MUST read such as PAX, I pretend I'm playing Jenga and yank that book out. Normally, I manage to win the teetering game. Other times, I lose and need to re-stack. 

This past month, I've been eyeball deep in writing Book Two of the Starr Fall series, Starr Lost. Happily, I submitted Book Two last Friday, and now I'm catching up on all the work I've neglected including my TB-Reviewed pile. My TB-Reviewed pile closely resembles my #TBR pile. 

Exhibit 1: 

Yep, it ain't pretty. Well, the books are certainly pretty, but the size of the pile is unsightly. You see Alison, as an author, I've come to realize just how important book reviews are. The more reviews a book receives, the more likely search engines, including the all-powerful Amazon, will bring that book to the top of their lists rather than let it get lost among the millions, YES MILLIONS, of other books. Only about 1% of people review books, and that's it, but a book review doesn't need to be long. In fact, it could be as simple as: "I loved XYZ book. It made me laugh, and the story was entertaining." Or even simpler: "Loved XYZ. Thrilled to no end."  

It's simple. It's easy. And Authors NEED reviews. Pretty, pretty please we do. 

Now, enough of my PSA for Book Reviews, back to my actual book review. Alison, I'm not sure if you can tell, but at the top of the TB-Reviewed pile is Ratgirl: Song of the Viper by Gayle C. Krause. 

While, I write contemporary YA and NA, I LOVE dystopias and fantasies. Love them I tell you, and Ratgirl did not disappoint. 

Image result for ratgirl song of the viper

Here's the Book Blurb:

Sixteen-year-old streetwise orphan, Jax Stone is an expert at surviving in a dangerous city, where rats rival the homeless for food and shelter, but she’s an amateur at fighting the immoral mayor when he kidnaps her little brother. Desperation demands she quickly master the role of courageous opponent. In an effort to outwit the diabolical mayor, she uses her hypnotic singing voice to lead rats to their death, and all the children to safety, in a dying city cursed by the deadly sun.

Ratgirl is a gripping re-imagining of the Pied Piper, set against a backdrop of global warming and corporate greed. Jax Stone and her brother survive in a world where no one can be trusted and spending more than sixty seconds in the sunlight will kill you. The rich have fled to the New Continent. The poor have fled to the sewers. Within the old subway tunnels, the poor co-exist with the rats as best as humans can co-exist with an abundant and hungry rat population, which is to say they can't. The young, the old, and the sick fall victim to daily rat attacks.

Each night, when the sun sets, the rats, along with the poor, along with the criminals ascend to the surface to scrounge abandoned buildings for anything worth trading for food and other basic necessities. Jax and her brother dream of a better life. A life with food. A life where a person could feel the sunlight against her cheeks without fear of being scorched in less than sixty seconds. A life much different than the one they are living.

The Mayor considers the infestation of the rats and the poor unacceptable. When the opportunity to rid the city of the rat population presents itself, Jax accepts. She doesn't realize that the Mayor plans to rid the city of her friends, her family, and herself, along with the rats. 

So Alison, be sure to add Ratgirl by Gayle C. Krause to the top of the #TBR pile. The Amazon link in case you want to buy your own copy: Ratgirl: Song of the Viper

Sharing the writing love one letter at a time,

Monday, March 21, 2016

Book Review: PAX by Sara Pennypacker

Dear Kim,

I am happy to hear that you are feeling better (Baby too.) You and I find common ground in our young adult, even adult, book recommendations. I typically leave Donna to send us recommendations about terrific Middle Grade novels. But, boy oh boy, do I have one for you today.

WONDER by R.J. Palacio
Poster of precepts by one of my lit circle kids.
I need to keep up with the best in Middle Grade fiction in order to engage my small literature group of amazing readers that I meet with at our local elementary school. This school year we've already read Kathy Erskine's Mockingbird and R.J. Palacio's Wonder. Currently we are enjoying Kwame Alexander's The Crossover. When we finish Alexander's novel-in-verse, our next pick is PAX.

Oh, PAX.
I could write a love song about this book.
Hey, that's not a bad idea. The kids might enjoy writing a song about the love between Peter and Pax.

Peter and Pax were best friends. Peter, age twelve, needed a friend like Pax to rise from the lose of his mother. And Pax, well Pax needed Peter too. Peter rescued the orphaned fox as a kit. 

When Peter's father enlisted in the war, Peter's life was once again turned upside down. Peter moved to his grandfather's house, 300 miles away from home, and Pax was released back into the wild. Without Pax's companionship, Peter couldn't cope with all of the changes. The only thing he could do to make things right-- set his world back in motion-- was find his fox. He set out for the woods, despite the guilt for leaving his grandfather; despite the violent war at his back, nothing would keep him from Pax.

When first released to the wild, Pax waited. Of course he waited. He cleaned his paws. Listened to the rustling of the woods. And waited for Peter to come back to him. Eventually Pax began his journey through the wilderness in search of his human. He saw new creatures, new geography, and sudden, sad moments of the war. 


I will not tell you if boy and fox are reunited because you must read PAX without such a spoiler. I will tell you that the book is a masterpiece. It will take a place of honor next to other classics that celebrate the bond between child and animal. Books like Charlotte's Web and The One and Only Ivan and Shiloh and Because of Winn-Dixie; they will all welcome PAX to the bookshelf.

To add to Sara Pennypacker's beautiful language, the book held illustrations from Caldecott-winning artist, Jon Klassen. Moreover, the muted design of the book creates a perfect package; with rough cut paper mirroring the rough wilderness and war times, along with the embossed front cover (please do take a peek under the dust jacket.)

Klassen has a number of Caldecott honors and one medal, missing here is Extra Yarn (my favorite).

Kim, PAX is a must read. Curl up with your favorite companions for this one. You won't be sorry.

Much Love,

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Finding Time for a St. Patrick's Brain Dump by Kim Briggs

Dear Alison,

Last weekend, we lost an hour to Daylight Savings. An hour doesn't seem like that big of a deal. After all, it's only sixty minutes, but that hour doubled the sixty minutes I lost between Friday and Saturday when I decided I needed another hour of sleep. That hour I lost was time I usually spend working on SCBWI emails--and if I'm honest, most weekends I spend two to three hours on SCBWI stuff in addition to being a mom, a wife, and a writer. So I entered into Daylight Savings with an hour already lost. By Sunday morning I was already two hours behind. I tried to make that hour up Sunday night, but by Monday during our critique group meeting, I felt that 3rd lost hour of sleep, and I began to lose more and more time. Alison, the snowball effect is REAL.

Image result for snowball effect gif

Bizarre circumstances sprouted each day--Tuesday after track practice (I'm a coach not a runner) I had to wait a half hour for two students to get picked up. Tuesday night, I discovered Girls on the Run started Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. I lost another half hour registering and then lost another hour in the morning with two drop offs to school instead of one--that lost morning hour I usually spend catching up with emails and scheduling social media. Wednesday evening, I picked up my kids after practice as scheduled, got home--planned to make some delicious homemade mac and cheese but my dog was missing in our house...I found her stuck in the drain pit in the far corner of the basement, half submerged. Alison, our dog is terrified of thunderstorms. TERRIFIED. I got her out, cried, cried some more because I thought about what could have happened if she went in head first, put on my brave face for the kids, gave her some aspirin, ate some chocolate, made dinner, read to the kids, tried not to think about what could have happened to her some more, and decided I had enough. I went to bed early--it was 10:30 p.m.  (Yep, that's early for me because I still had to shoot out some quick emails after the house was straightened and the kids went to bed.) I had planned to finish editing the final 30 pages of Starr Fall, Book Two that I promised my publisher, but I didn't have it in me last night, and 6:15 a.m. came entirely too early this morning. Once the house was empty, I planned to finish editing Book Two before I wrote my blog post, but I realized I needed a Brain Dump.

Alison, this post is my St. Patrick's Day Brain Dump. Two years ago I wrote a Brain Dump Post. Brain Dumps are writing exercises that are vital to writers. Sometimes we need to get rid of all the STUFF floating around in our brains. Everyone's life is busy--We're so scheduled that losing sixty minutes is a BIG DEAL and sometimes a free write or a Brain Dump seems like an extravagant waste of time. It isn't. These exercises are vital to the writer. We need to stretch our brains. We need to warm up our muscles before we write just like an athlete warms up before practice, and like an athlete, we need to cool down after our writing workouts. Athletes remove the lactic acid buildup from their muscles. I'm not a scientist, nor do I play one of TV, but I believe writers also need to cool down to remove the lactic acid buildup in our brains through Brain Dumps. After a good Brain Dump, we can find writing inspiration everywhere we look.

So Alison, I'll talk about my writing mentors next time, but today, I just needed to find time to Brain Dump. I'll leave you with some advice from a wise 7 year old.

Sharing the writing love one letter at a time,
P.S. Here's my pitiful pup in her recovery.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Lucky: On Finding Writing Mentors

Dear Kim,

We had a great time celebrating my father this past weekend. Seventy. My siblings and I all gave him the "John Green" treatment. (My father is John Green, not that John Green.) My dad believes in the art of public speaking. Given the opportunity he would speak at your birthday, your kid's fifth grade graduation, your best friend's mother's retirement.

He likes to speak. Scratch that. He loves to speak publicly. He adores, and masters, the sweet mix of a little humor joined by a bit of nostalgia, blended together with a dash of love.
The John Green toasting Garry and I at our wedding.
My brother really nailed his tribute to John Green. I was lucky to give my 90% humorous speech before my brother stepped up to bring us all to tears. John Green was proud.

I'd have to say for many reasons I am lucky to have John Green as my father. Among the reasons, he was my first writing mentor. As a young journalist my dad kept on deadline and covered all sorts of human interest stories. When I started writing-- for school mostly, my dad was the first and toughest copy editor I'd ever experience. Always a red pen. Always loads of line edits. He'd grab ahold of any one of his four kids' assignments and fall into The Elements of Style mode.

With Saint Patrick's Day approaching it feels like as good a time as any to write about the LUCK that I've had in finding writing mentors. I believe that in any profession to gain skills and unlock your talent you must find mentorship. In teaching I had several. In writing (and everything that goes into this profession) I've been blessed with many.

Kim, as you know my family is made up of some killer creatives. Surrounded by creative energy from a young age, my mom's at time manic need for creativity was always overflowing. From my mom's culinary magic to my brother and sisters, who all suffer the creative condition, I've been influenced, supported, and challenged.

Then the door fell open and I stumbled out of my home in search of other mentors. Not those born to me but those I had to find on my own. I met Kent Brown on this quest. Through a series of fortunate events I had the opportunity to write for Kent. The red pen returned.
Kent Brown, Jr. Executive Director of The Highlights Foundation
Kent is an editor at heart. (Many folks would say farmer, but I believe that his bones are made of white-out and his heart runs with red ink.) He isn't looking for what is right in a story, he is looking for what can be made better. He made me write on demand. He made me write and rewrite and find more heart and then rewrite again. He opened my eyes to a community of other working writers who were generous beyond belief with their mentorship.

Patti Gauch and Peter Jacobi's poetic words. Meg Medina's passion. Rich Wallace and Kathy Erskine's knowledge of voice. Junko Yokota's research. Pat Cummings and Denise Fleming's characters. Floyd Cooper and Eric Rohmann's humor. Candy Fleming's mastery of the craft. Kent's Highlights Foundation gives me more mentorship than I can ever hope to repay. But I will try.

InkSisters at #NY16SCBWI. Note the cupcakes.
Finding mentors became exponentially easier when I found the Highlights Foundation and SCBWI. Through SCBWI I found you and Donna, my critique partners, yes. But you are so much more than a "partner" at times. You are my go-to mentor. You push me. You take my hand when things get tough. You won't let me quit. You walk just a bit farther ahead on the path in order to light my way. And here too I hope to give back, not just to you and Donna, not just in the form of tasty gin drinks and cupcakes, but to SCBWI too. Lin Oliver and Steve Mooser do amazing work bringing writers and illustrators face-to-face with mentors all over the country. I'm proud to volunteer for their mission.

#TeamTallahassee 4Ever!

If someone asked me where to find writing mentors I would always start with the Highlights Foundation and SCBWI, but I have to say Twitter is also a great virtual meeting space for mentorship. Without Twitter and #PitchWars I never would have found my Natalie Traver: mentor extraordinaire, greatest giver of time and support. Natalie, author of Duplicity (and many upcoming titles) was my coach for the 2014 PitchWars contest. She worked to bring Blossom Hill together. Daily revisions and rereads. She once emailed me at midnight after returning home from a party to let me know she cornered an FBI shoe analyst and the crime scene I'd written would work. We brought home second place in the contest, but I won first prize when I found her support. Go ahead and ahh because my love for her is that freaking real.

Of course, Kim, as a writer, you know one of the easiest places to find mentorship is in a book. Authors you've never met in person become mentors too. I know I may never get to meet my between-the-pages mentors but their novels have given me such a deep understanding of the kind of writer I need to be for teens. When I was a teen I devoured Stephen King, but his words entertained me, decidedly not the same as mentoring. It wasn't until I discovered Megan Abbott's work that things began to click for me.

I'd been writing for a few years when I read The End of Everything. I read more of Abbott's work, short stories and other novels. I credit her Dare Me with pushing me past the "maybe I can write for teens" threshold to the I must write...RIGHT NOW! All of my writing up to that point was about the intensity of teenage girls and no one I had ever read before wrote about teenage girls in the way that Ms. Abbott had. I've let her books "mentor" me. They let me know that there is a place on the shelves for such work. They let me know that the experiences-- the horror and the realness of those years, is welcome in the world of young adult publishing. I'll see Megan Abbott in person for the first time at the end of this month. I only hope that I can keep myself from rushing the stage and tackling her. (Tackling her in the nicest, most flattering way.)

Lucky, that's me. Lucky enough to have a family that breathed creativity. Lucky enough to help with two organizations that provide mentorship to children's book writers. Lucky enough to have Natalie pick my work. Lucky enough to find mentorship on the page. And oh so very lucky to have met you and Donna. My cupcake eating, no bullshit critiquing, InkSisters.


Friday, March 11, 2016


Dear Alison,

You're right. Sometimes all your story needs is a new POV. A change of perspective to really nail the storyline. Do you want to know a secret? Months ago, I wrote a Point of View post--I never published it because well... I'm not sure why, but I'm glad I didn't because it's the perfect post to follow your POINT OF VIEW and Stories that JUST WON'T DIE post.

In my past life as a high school English teacher, I spent a lot of time on Point of View. I taught my students (and I believe it now more than ever) that Point of View is one of the most important literary devices to consider when writing your story.

Think of Point of View as a camera lens. As the writer, you decide what view or perspective of the story you want the reader to experience.

Image result for point of view images

The Three Main Points of View (POV) include First person, Second Person, and Third Person. You are the Director. You decide what POV you want for your story.

Image result for point of view images


First Person allows the author to inject the reader into the story. First person creates immediacy and authenticity.

Sure my main character is named Tiffani and she might be twenty-two and a diner waitress, but I bet when she drinks her glass of wine you start relaxing with her.

First Person POV works well in all forms of fiction--I don't care what the age or genre of the story. For readers who like to immerse themselves in the story, First Person POV is the way to go.

But it does have drawbacks. The writer is limited to one POV for an entire book or at least a chapter.

BEWARE the “I” Trap
It's easy to fall into the "I" trap: "I ran to the store. I paid the cashier fifty dollars for the food. I ran home."

Any POV requires the writer to mix up her writing with varying sentence structure so the reader doesn't get bored, but it's especially important with First Person.

"When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold. My fingers stretch out seeking Prim's warmth but finding only the rough canvas cover of the mattress. She must have had bad dreams and climbed in bed with our mother. Of course, she did. This is the day of the reaping."
                                               --excerpt from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Collins could have said, "When I wake up, I find the other side of the bed cold. I reach out to search for Prim but I can't find her. I think she had a bad dream and she needed our mother's comfort."  ----BLEECH!!!! Boring, self-center, and mediocre writing.

Collins created an intense First POV that sucked the reader in by varying the sentence structure and using action, rather than telling the reader what the MC did.

Second Person creates a relationship between the narrator and the reader whereby the reader can't help but feel that the narrator is speaking directly to them. Second Person is not as common in fiction.

While Catcher in the Rye is written in the First Person, Past Tense. The first few lines slip into Second Person.

"If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want o know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had  me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap..."

                                                   --excerpt from Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

In Second Person, the writer is speaking directly to you. Here's another example.

"If you are going to be a ballerina, you have to do more than wear a tutu and dream about dancing."
                                                  ---excerpt from Vampirina Ballerina by Anne Marie Pace

A Second Person POV is difficult to maintain for the duration of a MG or YA Novel. Most writers intentionally slip into the Second Person POV once and a while to really speak to their readers, but then redirect their readers back to their Main POV.


Third Person provides the writer storytelling freedom. She doesn't need to rely on a single character to share the story. Writers use he, she, it, or they pronouns. (I could get into the whole singular and plural pronoun usage, but I'm just giving a quick overview of choices--not a grammar lesson.)

THIRD PERSON OMNISCIENT: The narrator knows EVERYTHING that's going on in the story. The narrator is OZ, Yoda, Buddha--all knowing. The narrator knows things that the characters don't. The narrator can comment on the events of the story and knows exactly what's going on in the minds of every character--a creepy, stalkery all-knowing being.

My favorite 3rd Person Omniscient and the book that hooked me as a reader...

Image result for charlotte's web pov

"Wilbur never forgot Charlotte. Although he loved her children and grandchildren dearly, none of the new aspirers ever quite took her place in his heart. She was in a class by herself. It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both."  
                                                                       --end of Charlotte's Web by E.B. White

THIRD PERSON LIMITED: POV is limited to ONE character. The reader only knows what the narrator knows because the narrator only knows what the character knows. Depending on writer preference, 3rd Person Limited can be right inside the character's head or from a bit more distance, say from across the room.

The most well-known and loved 3rd Person Limited POV is the Harry Potter series. J.K. Rowling rarely slipped into another character's Point of View. She relied on Harry to share what was going on around him and therefore had to constantly filter what the reader should and shouldn't know about Harry's world based solely on his knowledge and experience.

Image result for harry potter series images

THIRD PERSON MULTIPLE: The narrator follows multiple characters in the story, depending on the scene or chapter. When done well, the reader realizes the character perspective has switched. --Typically at chapter or section breaks.

Probably the most well known 3rd Person Multiple: Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin 

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1)
 So really Alison, it depends on what you want the reader to know and what you want the reader to experience. Do you want the reader to be up close and personal with one character or several characters or do you want the reader to experience a wider frame of the story? Or maybe you want them to feel like Yoda. I love feeling like Yoda sometimes but other times I want to be diving into the water with my favorite character. I prefer the First Person Present Tense for most of my YA stories, but I'm experimenting with 3rd Person Multiple on another WIP. As writers, we should stretch ourselves from time to time and if a story JUST WON'T DIE, sometimes it just needs a new POV! 

Sharing the writing love one letter at a time,

Monday, March 7, 2016

Point of View and Stories that JUST WON'T DIE

Dear Kim,

As you know I'm knee deep in a major manuscript overhaul. My characters shot me out of bed last night with a message and I wearily wrote this on the pad next to my bed:

Ignore the nice writing at the top-- thoughtful things to add to my To Do list, written at a very reasonable 11pm. The chicken scratches that appear mid-page are the rantings of a 4:13am writer struggling to match the best point of view to a story that just won't die!

As you know Headless (working title) started out with too many POV shifts. In the first few drafts, each first person/past tense chapter was followed by a third person/present tense passage examining my main character's execution day. It was shifty. Oh so shifty. (And turns out, shitty too.)

I worked out plot kinks, added another important character. Firmed up Elizabeth's struggle with wanting to love Nick, but knowing what he would/could eventually do to her. And then I promptly put the book away. For years. Three years, I think.

As you know I like first person present. Even if Rainbow says, "Ugh. It's like reading one long monologue." I write thrillers and the close to the bone urgency of first person-present just seems to fit.

When I pulled Headless back out this month I reread the whole shifty-POV thing. I remembered instantly the love I had for my main character and, likewise, how much I loved the history of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII woven throughout. I think the POV shift got in the way of showing how Elizabeth and Nick's relationship mirrored Anne and Henry's and so it had to go. Delete. Delete. Delete.
The Tudors, Showtime

And now...NOW... Now I struggle with the questions: From whose point of view? and What tense? It makes me feel like I'm back in the classroom administering the Language Arts PSSA...What is the author's purpose in writing first person/present tense? Cite evidence from the text to explain your thinking.
Why do we make kids answer such questions? (That is a post for another day.)

When I woke up this morning (for the second time) I looked at my scratches about 3rd person and took a minute to try it:

Elizabeth saw what her mother saw, really, she did. Nick, rowdy and strong, pulling her this way and that with the snap of his finger or the dip of his chin. The way he called her "his". The way his voice grew cold at the slightest distance between them-- a warning that he could do more.

Elizabeth saw these things. Yes. But none of it mattered much. All that mattered was his arm around her shoulder and, as silly as it was, his scent. Taking in Nick's salty, sweet scent meant she was in his presence-- that he was by her side. The way he hurt her wasn't right, Elizabeth knew-- her mother would learn this after the attack of course. What mattered to Elizabeth was breathing in his scent and feeling his arms around her because those were the only realities that would ever fill her up and make her whole.

After trying third person, I think I am going to go back and rewrite the entire novel again. Third person might work. More than just an exercise in rewriting the book, I think it might be better for my reader. This one gets dark-- dark yet totally, sadly, completely realistic. Some of the scenes taken from my own past. Writing in third person might put a safe distance between the reader and the traumas of Elizabeth and Nick's relationship.

I just can't quit this one. I won't let it die. I won't let Elizabeth die.

I need to tell Elizabeth's story. And maybe that is the best reason to try third person? I can tell the whole story, not just Elizabeth's limited view, but the whole damn thing.

I guess you will see soon enough. Headless headed your way at our next writers' group.
Until then,

Friday, March 4, 2016

Lisa Voisin's The Warrior Prophet Cover Reveal and Giveaway

Dear Alison, 

I know I posted yesterday about Rubin Pfeffer and #NY16SCBWI, but I promised my fellow Inkspell-er, Lisa Voisin, I'd reveal her awesome book for THE WARRIOR PROPHET, the third book in her The Watcher Saga and share an excerpt from the book today--which happens to be THE WATCHER's 3rd Book Birthday!
There is also an amazing giveaway included with the reveal for ecopies of THE WATCHER and THE ANGEL KILLER, the first two books in the series, so you can catch up, AND an angel wing key chain!

Without further ado...

Mia Crawford is a prophet.
She can see angels. She also sees demons. Everywhere.
She knows the angels are preparing for war to get her fallen angel boyfriend, Michael, back.
A war that could take years.
Haunted by visions of Michael’s soul being tortured, Mia can’t rest until she knows he’s safe.
To save him, she must make an impossible journey through Hell. Her only guide is the one person she prayed she’d never see again.

Available April 13, 2016

Sounds amazing right?!?! And you can pre-order it now! 
Amazon: Kindle 
Amazon Print 

Make sure you add it on Goodreads too! We need to share the writing love!

A little excerpt to further peak your interest
While the angels battled outside, a ghoulish female demon pounded a crack in the protective structure around Michael’s hospital room with her fist. Her long, stringy black hair whipped over her face with each blow. She struck and struck until she hit the perfect angle. The structure cracked. 
Her eyes glowed red and her skin was the color of black polished granite, wet with black slime. With a tearing sound, like ripping silk, the crevice grew. Her form as ragged and filmy as liquid smoke, she slipped into the crevice and poured herself through. I struggled to make a sigil of my own and managed to make the first cone. By the second, she was in my face. Her cold, dead stare mesmerized me and her shrieking pierced my eardrums. But when she reached a bony arm for Michael, I reconnected to the network and ignited the room, throwing her beyond my reach. 
She picked herself up and circled the outer edges of my halo, inching closer to test it. I dropped Michael’s chart on the bedside table and flared my energy out further. My halo wasn’t as big or bright as when Michael and I had been connected, but I could hold her off. I had to. 

Oh NO!!! I guess that's why they call it an excerpt--it's really a teaser! 

About the Author:

A Canadian-born author, Lisa Voisin spent her childhood daydreaming and making up stories, but it was her love of reading and writing in her teens that drew her to Young Adult fiction. 
 Lisa is a technical writer, a meditation teacher, and the leader of the Lynn Valley Literary Society’s Young Writer’s Club, a writing group for teens. A self-proclaimed coffee lover, she can usually be found writing in a local cafĂ©. When she's not writing, you'll find her meditating or hiking in the mountains.
Though she’s lived in several cities across Canada, she currently lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her fiancĂ© and their two cats.
More about Lisa can be found on her web site.
Twitter:  @lvoisin
The Giveaway
You can win the first TWO ebooks of The Watcher Saga: THE WATCHER and THE ANGEL KILLER PLUS this wonderful key chain from now until March 18th!

About The Watcher:

Series: The Watcher Saga #1
Release date: March 4, 2013
Publisher: Inkspell Publishing
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Millennia ago, he fell from heaven for her.
Can he face her without falling again?
Fascinated with ancient civilizations, seventeen-year-old Mia Crawford dreams of becoming an archaeologist. She also dreams of wings—soft and silent like snow—and somebody trying to steal them.
When a horrible creature appears out of thin air and attacks her, she knows Michael Fontaine is involved, though he claims to know nothing about it. Secretive and aloof, Michael evokes feelings in Mia that she doesn’t understand. Images of another time and place haunt her. She recognizes them—but not from any textbook.
In search of the truth, Mia discovers a past life of forbidden love, jealousy and revenge that tore an angel from Heaven and sent her to an early grave. Now that her soul has returned, does she have a chance at loving that angel again? Or will an age-old nemesis destroy them both?
Ancient history is only the beginning.
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About The Angel Killer

Series: The Watcher Saga #2
Release date: January 5, 2015
Publisher: Inkspell Publishing
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Now that she’s found him again, all Mia Crawford wants is some downtime with her fallen angel boyfriend, Michael. But the call of duty keeps him away—from school and from her—with more demons to smite than ever. 
When Michael is mortally wounded by a cursed sword, Mia must perform an ancient blood ritual to save him. But the spell exacts a price. Haunted by visions of war, torture, and despair, Mia discovers the world is in more danger than she ever imagined. Behind the scenes, an evil adversary pulls all the strings.
After redemption, there’s Hell to pay.
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So Alison, I think we should check out Lisa's Watcher Saga. We always love talking about books don't we?!?! Have a great weekend! I hope it's filled with writerly inspiration and chocolate!

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