Saturday, November 26, 2011

Teen Eyes Discount for Small Business Saturday

Happy Holidays! And, of course, everyone's favorite holiday is Black Friday, and its offshoot holidays, Cyber Monday and Small Business Saturday. Teen Eyes definitely qualifies as a small business, and we're offering 20% off any service booked through the end of November (11/26-11/30).

You can redeem your critique at any point within the next three months. Keep us in mind as you finish up your NaNos and shop for gifts.

Thanks to everyone who has used Taryn or my services in the past three months, and we hope to help many more of you in the future!


***I copied this post directly from Taryn's blog. Yes, I'm just that lazy :).

Friday, November 25, 2011

A CONTEST! Plus my favorite YA book covers

I've always loved looking at pretty book covers. One of my biggest fears is that I'll get stuck with a cover I hate....what if it's ugly or colored wrong or just plain blah? I think many writers worry about their covers, so I thought I'd do a post with some of my favorite YA book jackets. Keep in mind I have very specific tastes when it comes to covers....I generally prefer asymmetrical covers with human figures, usually creepy/ethereal in some way. I'll also be holding a contest for one of the books listed below. Blog/tweet/comment on this post, and the randomly selected winner will get to choose a book from this list, which I will mail to them.


Wither - I'm pretty sure this cover appears on most lists. The image is gorgeous, and the lines really pull it all together.


The Unquiet - I have a thing for water and reflections.


The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer - This image is awesome in general. The entwined human figures are so interesting and beautiful and creepy, and once again the water just makes it.


The Treachery of Beautiful Things - For some reason, I absolutely love how the chains of flowers become part of her skirt.

The Near Witch - Lace. Enough said.


The Water Wars - Like I said, I'm a fan of the ethereal. The face is unremarkable on its own, but the eyelashes turning to water really drew my attention.


Shattered Souls - This cover has everything I could ask for. It's got a human figure, it's somewhat creepy, the image is abstract/ethereal, and I love the coloring.


The Sharp Time - My love of reflections strikes again.


Frost - Man, one of my all-time favorite covers. So creepy, so beautiful.


Fracture - REFLECTIONS EVERYWHERE! I find the position of the figure interesting, as well as the color scheme.


Folly - Again, one of my all-time favorites. I love how creepy and gorgeous this cover is.

Everblue - Her hair is supposed to be underwater, but the reflections look very strange, and I love the interesting patterns it creates. Also, love the contrast of her red hair with the blue.


The Dead-Tossed Waves - The image, the angle, the ocean....awesome cover.


Texas Gothic - Don't know where the smoke's coming from, but I'm intrigued.


Corsets and Clockwork - Did I mention I have a thing for clockwork?


Breathe - Love the bubbles, the position of the face, and the color contrast.


The Name of the Star - Love her dress, her hair, and the ghostly figure in the foreground.



So what are you guys' favorite covers? What do you look for in a good cover, and what's your dream book jacket?

The contest to win one of these books will be open until December 2, 2011. At that point I will choose a random winner, who may select one book from the list above (if the book hasn't yet been released, the winner might have to wait a few months to receive their prize). Here's the scoring system:

+1 for commenting on this post with your email address
+2 for following
+4 for tweeting
+4 for blogging
+4 for facebooking
+1 for adding up your points (correctly) in the comment section

Hope y'all enter!

<3

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

On giving advice

One thing that I tried to stay away from during my early blogging months was giving advice. For some reason, doling out advice as if I were "experienced" felt pretentious, especially given my age. Why would adult writers listen to anything I have to say?

As an unpublished writer, I've never seen myself as adequate enough to give advice to others who are unpublished. But lately I've been ignoring my long held rule. After all, I enjoy reading advice posts from other authors, even if they aren't published or agented yet. We all learn things during our writing journeys, and sharing tips and tricks allows us to connect with one another.

It's hard to shake that pretentious feeling. Even so, as I read the blogs of other aspiring authors, I find advice that's both inspiring and incredibly helpful. What do you guys think? Do you take author advice more seriously if it's written by a published author, as opposed to an unknown? Do you place greater value upon the posts of bestsellers compared to the posts of small-press authors?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Mental Blocks

When I do revisions on my manuscripts, I tend to hit a mental block toward the very end, with only a few hours of work left to go. I'm in such a place right now. I know exactly what I need to do to fix the manuscript (so it's not technically "writer's block"), but no matter how hard I try I can't seem to make myself complete those last 3-4 hours.

The human brain is interesting, to say the least. Obviously I want more than anything to have a book published. One might therefore assume that I want more than anything to finish my book, so I can send it off to my editor. But I can't. My brain wants it, but my body won't respond, and I can't focus long enough to do what I need to do. This happens with every single book I revise. Those last few hours are agonizing, as if my fingers have grown too heavy to move.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and assume that most writers encounter mental blocks at one point or another. How about you guys? Are there specific times when you feel blocked, or does it happen at random? Do you ever feel like you can't write even though you know exactly what needs to happen in your story? How do you deal with mental block?

I've spent the past two weeks trying to finish up what should've taken me less than a day. What's wrong with me?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Distance via Noveltee(n)

I'm sure all of you have heard authors, agents, or editors give this advice: take some time off from your manuscript before a big revision. Whether it's two weeks or two months, distance provides a renewed perspective that will make it easier to execute the needed changes.

Thing is, writers are impatient people. I'm impatient. We want to go out on submission now, we want to query agents now, we want a book deal now, now, now, now! I've had an agent since late April and we're just now preparing to go out on submission. Why so long? Distance.

I took a good three months away from my book before I went back to do a big revision. I mulled over the plot, the characters, and the overall structure, and I made some changes that entirely altered the story. It's so much better now than it was. And if I hadn't waited, if I had let my impatience rule me, I don't think I would've had the perspective to figure out what changes the story needed.

So here's my advice for unagented authors especially, since I know how tempting it is to revise quickly and send out queries. Take your time. After you get notes from a critique partner or a beta reader, spend a few weeks just thinking about them, brainstorming how you can alter your story to fix the identified problems.

Distance and perspective are key. If you're serious about a writing career, waiting a few more weeks to send out those queries shouldn't matter.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Killing children, not just babies

The people who contact Taryn and I for our Teen Eyes editing service tend to be very receptive to criticism. After all, that's what they're paying us for, right? I've been pleasantly surprised by their responses to my feedback, and amazed at their maturity.

Let's face it. Getting criticism sucks. It's great in the long run, but the moment when you read a note pointing out a major plot flaw in your manuscript, or a note condemning one of your characters, can be one of the most difficult moments to bear in your writing career. I've done a fair amount of revisions with both my agent and my editor, so I'm here to tell you now:

It doesn't get better.

You won't just be killing babies; you'll be killing children, teenagers, even, fully formed scenes and subplots and perhaps even characters.

Editing is a ruthless process. With LIKE CLOCKWORK, I cut several major subplots, drastically reduced the role of one character and increased that of another, and added a subplot that entirely changed the story. And I'm only on the first round of revisions. Nothing in a manuscript is fixed; as authors, we cannot get attached to our initial vision of a story, because it will invariably change with time, distance, and feedback. It's something I struggle with constantly, although I'm always happy with the result of my revisions.

So ask yourself: can you handle this? Can you handle killing your babies and children and teenagers? If you're serious about publication, the answer should be yes.

Revision sucks. We push through. And in the end, our books come out that much awesomer (which is not a word, but I'm using it anyway).


Monday, November 14, 2011

Prepping for a novel

As I've mentioned several times on this blog, I'm a huge fan of outlining. I go through chapter by chapter before I even start a novel and write out everything that's going to happen. This method obviously doesn't work for everyone, but for people as organized as me, outlines are a must.

So how do I outline? Well, the plot-based part of an outline is rather straightforward. Once I write a brief paragraph summary for each chapter, I lay them out in a chronological line to see where the climax, resolution, inciting incident, etc. fall. This gives me a visual of the novel's pacing. The inciting incident should occur within the first thirty pages, and the climax, generally, happens about 3/4 of the way through the book. There are definitely exceptions to this rule, but it's nice to see your novel laid out in front of you.

Secondly, I work on character sketches. I'd say these are the most important. Write out all pertinent information, including age, physical characteristics, family, friends, hobbies, dreams, goals, secrets, primary emotions, and reactions. Reactions are of the utmost importance.....how does this character react to different situations? Try writing at least one scene from the viewpoint of each of your major characters, even if the book itself isn't from their point of view. This will help you get a sense of their voice.

Lastly, relationships. I do at least a page of outlining for every relationship between every major character, whether it's a friendly relationship, a familial relationship, or a romance. When I finally start writing, these pages are a guideline as to how characters will interact with one another.

So there's my outlining process. For those of you who do outline, do you deviate from my method? Any tricks to share?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

BECOME

So, as I mentioned Friday, my good friend Ali Cross released her first YA novel, BECOME, on 11/11/11! Congrats, Ali! As part of the Most Awesome Blog Tour Ever, Ali will be joining me today on Weaving Colors to talk briefly about BECOME while I rave on and on about her amazingness.


BECOME
by Ali Cross


Sixteen-year old Desolation Black wants nothing more than to stay in Hell where it’s cold and lonely and totally predictable. Instead, she’s sent back to Earth where she must face the evil she despises and the good she always feared.

When Desi is forced to embrace her inner demon, she assumes her choice has been made—that she has no hope of being anything other than what her father, Lucifer, has created her to be. What she doesn’t count on, is finding a reason to change—something she's never had before - a friend.

Now, where to begin? I first read BECOME back in July when Ali asked me to give it a look and provide feedback. By the end of the first page I was hooked. Not usually a huge fan of paranormal romance, I devoured BECOME in a few sittings, despite working full time and editing my own story.

Desolation Black, or Desi, is one of those protagonists who grabs your attention from the start. She is by no means perfect - in fact, I'd describe her as a morally ambiguous narrator, a girl who struggles with her own inner demons and desires. She makes mistakes - some of them huge - and often chooses the wrong thing, but her heart is ultimately in the right place when it comes to protecting the people she cares about. Ali accomplishes what few authors can - she creates a character the reader can sympathize with, but who still does an astonishing number of bad things.

Another of my favorite characters in BECOME is Lucy, a friend and mother-figure who protects Desi from the moment they meet. Like all characters in this story, Lucy isn't perfect - she works as a prostitute and is known for being sexually promiscuous. She's human; flawed, but still likable. I fell in love with Lucy and her character literally jumped off the page.

BECOME's plot offers plenty of twists and turns that you will never see coming. With simple, gorgeous prose, Ali has a unique voice that really captures the thoughts and feelings of teenaged Desi. Desi's struggles really resonated with me; like all people, she's often confused as to which path to take, although her choices tend to have larger consequences than most. Although the story is one of good and evil, Ali paints all her characters in shades of gray; Desi, the Devil's daughter, may have evil inside her, but it's ultimately the choices she makes that define who she truly is. The story is well-paced with nonstop action, and the romance is 100% fulfilling. I got shivers when I finally finished. Ali is amazingly talented, and this story surpassed my wildest expectations. Fully recommended for anyone who's a fan of the YA genre.

If you're interested in purchasing BECOME, you can find it on Amazon.com in both paperback and e-book versions.


Ali....she's so pretty :)

And now for a short interview with Ali!

1. BECOME deals with some dark topics, such as the good and evil that exists within all of us. What made you decide to write about such things?

I sort of feel like I don't have a choice--it seems all my books deal with the imperfect part of our nature. Even when I try to write happy-go-lucky stories, say for middle grade readers, they always end up dealing with some sort of internal struggle with our darker side.

2. What made you decide to self-publish? What has been difficult about the experience, and what have you enjoyed?

I decided to self-publish because I believed the time for my story was now, and since it wasn't getting picked up by traditional means, it would be quite a while before I could try again. I felt I needed to strike while the iron was hot, so to speak. I think the most difficult part about self-publishing is giving up the dream of the traditional route--and learning to feel proud of my choice and not like my book or myself were second rate because I self-published. The best part? Having so much creative control over the process. Everything was done to my specification and that's pretty awesome!

3. Will there be sequels to BECOME?

YES! The second book, DESOLATION, will be out in the spring! I have a third book planned that will finish out this particular part of my main character's story--but if readers enjoy the world and characters I think I could probably write some more. :)


4. What was your favorite part of writing BECOME?

My favorite part of writing BECOME was probably the discovery process--I like to plan the bones of a story, but I discover my characters through drafting. Sometimes characters are different than I first think they are and they surprise me. A lot like people in real life!

5. What is your favorite candy?

We're talking candy here, right? Not chocolate? :P In that case, my favorite candy would be Mike & Ike's! Love those things :D


There you have it! Thanks for joining us, Ali, and I hope everyone out there enjoys BECOME!!!

Friday, November 11, 2011

A few things

First of all, congratulations to my friend Ali Cross, whose novel, BECOME, releases today! Ali is so talented and I absolutely loved BECOME. Be sure to pick up a copy when you get the chance! You can find it on Amazon.com in paperback and in e-book format. Here's the description:

Sixteen-year old Desolation Black wants nothing more than to stay in Hell where it’s cold and lonely and totally predictable. Instead, she’s sent back to Earth where she must face the evil she despises and the good she always feared.

When Desi is forced to embrace her inner demon, she assumes her choice has been made—that she has no hope of being anything other than what her father, Lucifer, has created her to be. What she doesn’t count on, is finding a reason to change—something she's never had before - a friend.



Second, the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards are officially open, including the PUSH Novel Contest! All you teens out there should definitely enter....the awards are excellent.

That's all for now. I know I've been an awful blogger lately, but I hope to get back to regular posts next week.

<3