Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Book Review: Turning Pages by Tristi Pinkston



Turning Pages (2012)
Blurb:
With his pride and her prejudice, what could possibly go wrong?
When the arrogant Blake Hansen steals Addie Preston's promotion at the library, he pretty much rubs her nose in it. But Addie, who dreams of being a full-fledged librarian, decides to stick it out. She loves surrounding herself with books and keeping her father's memory alive in the building where they spent so much time together.
Soon, Addie learns that her beloved library will be torn down to make room for a larger facility, and she has to make a choice. Fight, or let go?
To complicate things, she finds herself attracted to Blake, who is engaged to someone else. Will Blake and Addie ever resolve their differences?

My review:
Contemporary novels normally aren’t my genre. I live, breathe, write, and absorb fantasy novels. But I loved Turning Pages. This was such a cute story with very real, awesome characters. I have read it twice now and will read it again. (Making it on to my shelf of re-readers is a very high award.) Some books I love. Other books I love enough to read them a million times.
Why was this particular book so good?
The characters. Particularly one character: Blake.
He’s so dreadfully annoying in an awesome, cute sort of way. In a sense, he is the perfect character. He is someone that I want to learn more about. Someone that I get annoyed at, but still adore.
Not that he wasn’t the only awesome character. Addie was great too. The story was from her point of view. Point of view characters have to be superb. They have to be someone the reader wants to be with for two hundred or so pages.
Addie, like Blake, isn’t a perfect person. She tends to be a bit dramatic, but her imperfections are what make her great.
How on earth do imperfections make a character awesome?
It makes them real. Real enough to come off the page. When I was reading Turning Pages, I wasn’t reading about some place and some people that an author made up. I was reading about Addie and Blake and the library. All very real people in a very real setting.
And that is what elevates a book to the read-a-million-times status.
Excellent book. I recommend it.
If you want to learn more about the author, here is the like to her website (she's awesome): http://www.tristipinkston.blogspot.com/

Monday, October 29, 2012

No Pressure, but it has to be Perfect



As writers, we tend to strive for perfection. I can’t send my query until it is absolutely perfect. I can’t show this story until it is flawless.
That puts a lot of pressure on our already-stressed-from-lack-of-sleep minds.
My advice: Relax!
Not saying that you shouldn’t make your story the best that it can be. You most certainly should do that. You must grow and stretch yourself with every draft.
But don’t stress about making it perfect.
Here’s the big secret: It will never be exactly perfect.
No matter how much you tweak it and polish it, someone somewhere will find something wrong with it.
Don’t believe me? Go to Amazon or Goodreads or any other book-selling website and read the reviews of your favorite book.
It will surprise you how much people loath what you find to be awesome. I’m pretty sure there isn’t a book on this planet that everyone will love.
So when you are feeling the pressure to achieve perfection, take a step back (and perhaps a deep breath) and focus on what you’re doing right. Plan how to make it better and don’t be discouraged.
Awesome and perfection are not the same thing. Write an awesome book, not a perfect one.
Happy writing!

Oh I See



I’ve heard it said that you should vary your sentence structures. When I first heard that advice, I thought, “Oh I do that.”
Not so much.
Word has a handy feature that lets you change the color of your words. If you want to see how varied your sentence structure is color all of one particular structured sentence blue and another red and another green.
Once it’s done, it’s a fast way to determine if your story is balanced. For example, if you see three pages of solid blue, maybe change it up.
Changing the color of the sentences can also be very helpful to see other patterns in your writing. Try highlighting all of the dialog one color, all of the descriptions another color, and all of the action another color. Change the color of every sentence that starts with she or every sentence with an m-dash or that trails off.
By using colors, you can visualize areas of weakness (and strength) in your writing.
Happy writing!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Query Letter Crusaders



Writing a 50,000 word novel: easy peasy (Well, not exactly).  Writing a one page query letter: Impossible.
Anyone else feel this way? Have you  spent hours and hours perfecting your query letter, only to get feedback that it’s boring or too much like a summary or too gimmicky?
Yeah, it happens to the best of us.
I’d say don’t stress about it, but your query letter might be your only chance to make a first impression for agents.
So do we panic now?
Of course not (Okay maybe a little).
I’ve started a new yahoo group to help with the querying process. Basically, it’s a bunch of people serious about their query letters and serious about helping others with their query letters.
While we might not have any query experts, we have eyes. Eyes to see and evaluate queries. We have several people set up to be mock agents. (You can sign up to be one too!) Basically, you send your query package to them and they evaluate it. It’s sort of like sending it to a real agent, but
a.       none of our mock agents can represent your work and
b.       the mock agents give feedback.
Here’s the link:
Join us!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Scary!



Writing isn’t in itself scary. But there can be rather worrisome moments. If you don’t believe me, check the heart rate of any author who has just sent out a bunch of queries. Or even worse, when the query response has come back and it’s sitting in your e-mail inbox, unopened, waiting.
Rejection can sting, so perhaps that’s why it’s so scary to submit.
One day nearly five years ago, I was walking my dog (This will connect back to writing, I promise). Anyhow, Lucy, in her excitement to smell some awesome aroma, stuck her head into a shrub. This particular plant had a branch that stuck straight out—which poked Lu in the eye.
She was fine, but to this day (Note: five years later), Lucy refuses to walk past that particular stretch of shrubs.
Moral of the story?
Sometimes things (rejected queries) hurt, but it’s foolish to let something like that paralyze you. Keep sending.
Second moral of the story?
Chihuahuas never ever ever forget.

Happy writing!