Halfway there....

Howdy from Texas! It's  official. We've crossed the halfway point in both days and words. I just hit 31k last night.  So I am ahead of the official pacing. Yay! I still have a long way to go to get to my personal goal. Can we say turkey and dressing and keyboards oh my! Today is day two of conference week. It is 6:00 AM Central time, and I have twenty minutes to get dressed and 15 minutes to write, if I am lucky. Then set up. I'm wondering when throughout the day I can sneak in some extra words. I just can't stand a day with zero.  I'd love to write more, but no time to waste. Maybe tomorrow.

Week One Comes to a Close

Hey Folks,

The end of Week one is drawing to a close and a lot has happened in my NaNo Journey.  I'm still ahead of the official NaNo pace, with 14,665 words. I am pushing to get to 20k by the end of the day.  It's not the writing itself that takes time but the knowing what to write that is hard.  This year I've been scene jumping, which basically means that if I don't know exactly what is supposed to happen in a certain scene and I don't want to waste writing time trying to figure it out I move on. I'm using Scrivener so it is easy hop around and lets face it, by the time I finish this first draft there is a good chance I am going to move these scenes around anyway, so why stress about writing in chronological order?

I think it has actually made me more productive. I mean sure if I skip scene two and then later when I actually get around to writing it discover that my main character only has one leg, well yes I am going to have a lot of editing on my hands. But I know my characters pretty well and I know the story. So major revisions as a result of left field surprises aren't as likely. In my opinion, it's too much time and energy when what I need to be doing is polishing it up and sending it out.  But jumping scenes allows me to write what I'm most passionate and excited about. There are certain character who when brought together on stage are just hilarious. Those scenes are fun to write and because they come so naturally. I can move a lot faster in a short amount of time. And once I work out the logistics of a scene and better understand the character's motivations, those scenes will become fun too and I get really excited about cranking them out.

So here is the plan for today. I'm going to take a few hours to plot and outline so that I can keep cranking out pages this week. With all of the craziness at work this is the only time I have to do that stuff.  I'll through in a couple of writing blocks in between so I can move further ahead in my word total. It is kind of a catch-22. I can either write fast now, get to my goal and then get stuck tomorrow and fall behind or pause and strategize so that I can keep writing this week without spacing out. I think I will go with the later, in an attempt to save my sanity. But well see how that goes.

Thanks for all your encouragement.  Click on the chip-in widget to donate to Wicked Jungle and the OLL foundation. We are still far from our goal and even a dollar helps!

NaNo Day 2

Today was a rough day. I woke up this morning and was still exhausted. My stomach was upset, I had trouble writing and about a billion emails waiting to be answered. Long days of both writing and work are hard. One can only spend so much time staring at a computer screen.  Somehow I managed to squeak out another 2350 words, which puts my two day total somewhere around 5200.  I also managed to eat all of my emergency chocolate. In my defense, it wasn't that much chocolate to begin with and if it had been a true emergency, I may have perished. But still. Not a great way to start the second day. Hoping tomorrow gets better. I like that I have some scenes planned out, but wish that I had more time to prep! It makes the writing go so much faster. That's all. No great words of wisdom today. Just proof that you can keep slogging through even when all you want to do is crawl into bed and eat chocolate.

Become a WickedNaNo Warrior!!

Follow the instructions below to sign up as a WickedNano Warrior (because writing 50k words in one month is mostly about slaying the procrastination dragon). Share your NaNoWriMo user name and add a link to your own website, blog, or facebook page so supporters can follow your progress. 

NaNo Is here!

It's November first and that means NaNoWriMo has officially started. I stayed up until Midnight so that I could celebrate the start of November with the first 500 words of my book. I made good on my promise to do my first hour of writing in the morning, before I switch gears and devote all my time and energy to my real job, and yes, I got my day one goal in. Now I am working towards my "stretch goal" of 2800 words, which means I still have about 1000 words to write tonight. But I think that is doable. If I can get more, I might keep trucking along. I need to make up for the days I know I will be too crazy busy to get my quota.

I love the first scene (which is almost complete). It is sooooo good to be writing again and my characters are very happy to see me. It's like the first day of school after a long summer break and we are all eager to see what is going to happen this year.

Stay tuned!

Happy Halloween! From Missy Lynn and Glee!

Nano is fast approaching. I can feel my pulse quicken at the thought. Seven hours to go...now six...I wonder if I should stay up late just to start my official writing at midnight. Regardless, it's not November yet. So I'm going to sit back and enjoy a little Rocky Horror Glee Style. Dance with me! Happy Halloween!

Taking On NaNoWriMo (PT 2)

Must Have Resources
Now that you’ve got the basics, here are a few must have resources to help you stick to the rules!

1. Visit the Official NaNoWriMo site www.nanowrimo.org
If you haven't already done so, visit the official website to learn the rules and sign up as a participant. Join the forums, build out your buddy list, and most importantly ask questions. You don't want to lose time searching the boards once November comes. You want to know how to update your word count and track words before hand. Remember, time is precious!

2. Do the plotting and character development exercises
There are tons of books out there that are designed to help writers plot and develop their novel. Some of them even tote the tag line, write your novel in thirty days. Here are a few that I recommend. Check them out at Amazon.com.
No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days Book in a Month: The Fool-Proof System for Writing a Novel in 30 Days  Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook

3. Get the write (he, he) software
Most people use word by default, but it isn't always the best writing software, especially if you are trying to keep track of your daily word count. Personally I love to use Scrivener. In fact, part of the reason I went mac is because I needed a better writing program that worked with my personal writing and organizational style. The great thing about a program like Scrivener is that it allows you to create smaller separate documents within a larger project that are inter-related. So you can easily edit or move scenes, keep track of scene word count and my favorite, enter a full screen writing mode that blocks out everything else from your screen except for a basic document file.  There's no ads, no links, no Internet browser lurking about to tempt you away from your writing. Consider it a typewriter for the modern age. Scrivener also allows you store your research notes and prep work in one central place. Do you have pictures of your characters or settings? You no longer have to open up another program to view them. Did you create a separate PDF outline, link to a specific movie, or reference a certain web page. You can copy and paste it into the program without opening 100 word documents.

So, that's all fine and dandy, you say. But you don't own a Mac. Right. Well. That Sucks. I've been there. In a pinch, Word will suffice. Just familiarize yourself with the daily pacing vs the word count goal. i.e. on day 6 you should be at X words, so if you are writing everything in a single document, than you can easily see total word count with the click of a button. You could also do separate docs for each scene, but you won't have a running total and you will have to compile it all together at the end anyway. I do recommend using document maps and creating headers for each chapter to easily navigate through your 200 pages! it will help make highlighting chapters or scenes easier if you are trying to get a word count.

So that’s it! Happy writing and good luck. Feel free to share any tips your your NaNoWriMo username in the comments. You can find me as Meliwriter!

Taking on NaNoWriMo (PT 1)

NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, is an annual writing challenge that takes place every November. Each year participants attempt to write a 50,000 word novel (I say novel loosely because most novels today are much longer than this) during an intense thirty day period. For a professionally published author making a living writing full time, this may seem as easy as tying your shoes, but for an novice writer who has never finished a manuscript or an aspiring author trying to pursue their dreams of a writing career while juggling the demands of everyday life, the task can seem as impossible as climbing Mt. Everest.  Don’t worry! We’ve got you covered. I’m using today’s post to share my strategy on how to take on this mammoth beast and succeed with flying colors.  Read on to learn more.

Basic Rules
Let’s start with some basic ground rules. Because you can either set yourself up for success or failure. And we don’t want you go cripple yourself before the challenge even starts. You wouldn’t enter a marathon without training right? Well, consider this your boot camp.  Listen and learn.

Rule #1. Don't Wing It
I know many of you true artistic visionaries will cringe at the thought but now is not the time to fly by the seat of your pants. Can you complete fifty thousand words with out plotting or outlining ahead of time? Sure. I've even done it in the past. If your ultimate goal, is just to cross the finish line, than fine. Go for it. But if you are planning on actually doing something with this novel, and don't want to spend the next six months editing it to get it into some kind of readable shape, trust me, you're going to want a road map.  I've participated in this challenge twice. The first time I went wherever the muse took me. That book was a complete mess. Though I did indeed finish it, I spent two years going back to revise and edit it, trying to make a better (and thus saleable) novel. It didn't happen. But you know what they say about your first book. The goal is to complete a novel, not to sell it. You get better as you go and you may not want to be judged by your very first attempt.

The second novel I wrote is actually much stronger and I do believe that was because I had already done a significant amount of research and plotting. It still needed some edits, and though I hit my 50K goal I did not finish the novel in one month. For the most part, I knew the plot, the scenes that I wanted, who the major players were. There was plenty of room to adjust as the characters interacted on the scene, but I could reel them back in when I sensed we were going off course in a not so good way. This is actually the novel I've been pitching to agents and editors. And yes, I still continue to tweak it.

This year I will be doing even more plotting and character building. Not because I am completely anal, but because I cannot stand editing and want to minimize the amount of time and energy I need to devote to that portion of the writing process. I tend to get stuck there, dreading out of place commas, typos, and entire scenes that need to be rewritten or worse. It sucks and anyway I can make it easier on myself so that the novel goes out the door faster and I'm back in the more creative realm of writing, the better. 

I am also doing a significant amount of prep work because my goal is actually not to write 50k words. My goal is closer to 85,000 or about 2800 per day.  That's where most of my manuscripts wind up and I'd like to have a full first draft done at the end of the month. I truly believe, that if you know what you're doing, it isn't impossible to do.  But you can't get there with out a clear vision and actionable strategies that will get you across the finish line.

Your goals might not be as lofty as mine, or they might be double what I've outlined.  Either way, the prep work is important. Aside from helping you put together a logical story structure with relevant scenes and meaningful and dynamic characters is that the prep work allows you to make the most of what little time you have to write each day. Let's face it.  Ultimately what happens when you don't collect your thoughts before hand is that you sit down with the intention of writing 1666 words or more in a single session and end up staring at a blank screen for the first twenty minutes. Time is a valuable commodity, especially when we have so much going on in our busy lives.  Don't waste it brainstorming when you have a deadline looming. One of the great things about this challenge is that it forces you to stop making excuses and get something on the page. It teaches you the discipline of writing daily, and if you don't well the punishment can be severe. My first round I missed three days in a row. Next thing I knew my daily goal was no longer 1666 but 6664! It was a long and painful day, especially because I had no idea where the story was going or what was happening next. It was easy to push forward with 2000 words, but eventually you have to stop and figure out what comes next. And without realizing it you are back into the daydreaming, brainstorming stage instead of the producing stage.

Rule #2. Set a Schedule

Be proactive and plan out a schedule for writing ahead of time. Know how long it takes you on average to write 1666 words. Can you do it in two hours, or do you need more time? My goal is to write two hours in the morning before I go to work and do another two in the evening after I get home from the gym. And if I know that it's taking longer, I can cut the gym or write during my lunch break. Whatever it takes to get the words on the page.

Rule #3. Eliminate Non-Essentials
Along with setting up a specific writing time, look at your schedule and figure out what the non-essentials are. What are the things that you can cut out if you have a crazy day and need more writing time? Can you skip the gym, bypass the PTA meeting? TiVo Glee?  Basically this is all about prioritization. If completing this challenge is important enough than spending time writing will come first. Note, I am not advocating you quit your job or starve your kids. But you don't have to cook a five course meal or make homemade pasta for dinner. Order a pizza, get carry out.If you don't like the idea of fast food all the time, plan out your meals for the week and  prep them the Sunday before. Casseroles and soups can be frozen and reheated in the oven or crock-pot with minimal effort involved. If you love fresh salads, chop up your veggies and store them in storage containers so that you can quickly toss your favorites together and have meal in five minutes or less with little dishes to clean. Remember, now is not the time to go caffeine free. Don't take up an additional college course, try to plan a wedding or take on a part time job. A couple of late nights won't kill you but it will make you cranky. We want this to be a happy positive experience, not a death march to the end of your writing career.

If you live alone, you can stock up on healthy frozen dinners, snacks and quick serve meals. If you have a spouse or partner, USE THEM! Explain what you're doing, why it is important. Ask them to take over meals, childcare, bath time, etc. (that's bath time for the kids not you! No distractions!) and you can buy yourself a few extra minutes with the computer. If they see how hard you're working (meaning you can't be staring at a blank computer screen) and know that it's only for one month, they will hopefully be happy to support you.

Rule #4. Reward Yourself
Sure, winning the challenge and crossing the 50K mark is huge and a great motivator in and of itself. But if you aren't use to writing everyday the task can seem daunting, even for talented writers. Celebrate the little milestones, did you write today (even if it was just a sentence, good job. Are you on track or ahead of the pacing for the month? Good job. Did you meet your daily word count? Good job. Reward yourself with a chapter from a good book, an hour of your favorite TV show, or some special time with your significant other. :)

J.K. Rowling on Oprah

So if you missed it on Friday the lovely Jo shared amazing insights during her interview with Oprah about life after Harry, dealing with success, and coping with failure. If you can get your hands on the full interview I highly recommend it. It's much better than the little excerpts I found on the site.  Regardless, here's a sneak peak. 

10 TV Characters Who Need a Spin-off Series

True Blood: The Complete Second Season (HBO Series)Check out this article over on tvsquad.com on 10 TV Characters Who Need a Spin-off Series! As a fan of True Blood, Weeds and Entourage (no I am not a pay for TV cable snob I just like showtime and HBO) I agree that these characters would make some fine spin-offs. Lafayette is one of those characters who is so much more developed on the show than I think he ever was in the books and as a result he is pretty freaking awesome. I was devastated at the season one cliffhanger when I thought he might be dead. But I hear Alan Ball loves Lafayette as much as the fans do, so he may be safe for now.

Weeds: Season Five [Blu-ray]

And what about Andy from Weeds! Hello. He is my favorite character on the show by far. I agree that the show is getting a little old. Can I technically say that If I watched all five seasons in the last two weeks? The earlier stuff was much better and really, how much more trouble can Nancy get into? Mexican Drug Lord Politician is pretty freaking big.

Check out the article and let me know your thoughts. Who do you want to see get a spin-off show?

Eclipse Soundtrack Coming Soon!

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse Soundtrack

A few lucky Twilight fans had the opportunity to listen to the The Twilight Saga: Eclipse Soundtrack and there have been pretty good reviews. There are two versions available. The standard album has 15 tracks but the deluxe version has a whopping 19 songs. I have to admit, I was not a fan of the New Moon Soundtrack. I purchased a few individual tracks, but wasn't impressed enough to buy the entire CD. Ah, the beauty of the digital music revolution. I do own the Twilight soundtrack and I absolutely love it.  And I am psyched about what I am hearing for the Soundtrack for the latest movie.

Here is a sneak peak, the Muse, Love is Forever video.

If you liked that you can check out more samples online soon. The albums release date is June 8th.  Check it out.

Last Chance Contest at Wicked Jungle

Just a quick post to let you all know that if we get 50 blog subscribers over at Wicked Jungle by midnight tonight (May 31st) all members will be entered into a cool grand prize drawing with signed goodies from Jim Butcher, Rachel Vincent, CT Adams along with bn.com gift cards.  You never know, you could be the lucky winner!

Wicked Jungle Contests!!!

If you haven't done so already hop on over to Wicked Jungle! We are having a fun time giving away cool signed books and RT Swag. There is a new contest each day and a grand prize drawing at the end of the month. Here's a list of all the goodies up for grabs. Some items have already been claimed! Sorry for not posting over here sooner.


Each daily winner will have the option of choosing an autographed copy of the following books:

C.T. Adams & Cathy Clamp--Touch of Darkness
L.A. Banks --The Forbidden (Selected by previous winner)
Mary Janice Davidson--Undead and Unwed (Selected by previous winner)
Mary Janice Davidson--Undead and Uneasy
S.J Day--Eve of Darkness
Devon Monk--Magic to the Bone (Selected by previous winner)
Devon Monk--Magic in the Blood (Selected by previous winner)
Kat Richardson--Greywalker
or an un-autorgraphed copy of one of the following books:

Rachel Caine--Kiss of Death
Jocelynn Drake--Nightwalker (Selected by previous winner)
Angie Fox--The Dangerous Book of Demon Slayers
Richelle Mead--Succubus Blues (Selected by previous winner)
Linda Wisdom--Hex in High Heels
Each book is also paired up with a swag bag, which contains buttons, postcards, bookmarks, and posters (some signed, some not). Each bag varies and winners will not have the option of pre-selecting the swag-bags.

Winners of the daily contest will automatically be entered into the grand prize drawings (winners to be announced May 31st). This includes the RT 2010 Tote Bag, Strange Brew Anthology (signed by Jim Butcher), signed posters, books, swag and your choice of a $25 gift e-gift cart to borders.com, bn.com or amazon.com. (Second place winner will receive similar package with signed poster, tote bag, and $10 gift card).

Giving Back i.am home fund

For those of you who know me personally, you know that I am a compassionate and giving person. My entire working career has been focused on helping those in need. I believe in helping those less fortunate than myself and know that making a difference in someone else's life is a priceless experience. 

So when I saw this, I had to share, because I know so many people that are struggling and I love when a celebrity is willing to share their blessings with others not because it is the cool thing to do but because it is the right thing to do. Please share this with someone in your life and remember to pay it forward. Their is joy in giving!

RT 2010 Update

The conference is a blast,and yet totally and completely exhausting at the same time! How can that be? I've met a lot of new friends (so nice to put a face to the online folks I've been chatting with) and gotten lots of great info from the panels. Last night I went to the Faery Ball and got my picture taken with Charlaine Harris! Yes, I know you are jealous. This is the second time I have met her. She was at DragonCon last year, and I just love her to pieces. Her accent and sense of humor are the best.  I'd love to just sit on the porch with her, drinking sweet tea and talking vampires. LOL.

I had some audio of the first panel she moderated but the battery on my recorder died and I lost the entire file! I am going to try and get some more today.

There are book signings this afternoon and tomorrow. The Saturday one is open to the public so if you are in the area stop by and you can meet up with more than 300 authors for just 5 bucks! I also have an appointment with another editor this afternoon to talk about some of my short fiction. I was going to do a straight pitch, but really I think I will use the time to ask her a bunch of questions. I don't know if I am ready to pitch my novella yet. I have been so obsessed with Love Sex Magick that the novella has become the neglected baby in the family.  but I am super interested in learning more about the changing nature of these epublishers.  I look forward to picking her brain!

I did survive my first live pitch for Love Sex Magick. I was very nervous about the whole thing, despite the fact that my day job involves training people how to make pitches for fundraising! I used the same basic principles for this, and once I had my pitch outlined, I practiced on my writing group, with my parents and even recorded myself so that I could watch it and give my own feedback. Super helpful if your nervous, because you get all the rambling and stammering out of the way and the pitch has a flow and a pace that makes you look like you know what you are talking about! Which of course you do, because you wrote it, right!

Okay beeps. It's officially time for me to hit the rode. It's after eleven and even though I am annoyed that I could not find my black skirt for the vampire ball, I am going to truck on. I've got things to do and people to meet/greet.  Tomorrow I will be posting pictures and maybe some video, maybe. I'm not making any projects. But man, it is crazy how much I miss writing and my time to work on the blogs, when I am at things like this. Sometimes I just need an hour or two to recenter and feel connected to everyday life.

Happy Friday!

Wicked Jungle (AKA me) Going to RT!!!

If you don't know what RT is or why we are so excited over here at Wicked Jungle, RT is short for the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention and this is our first year, well my first year, attending. We can't wait to spend five whole days mingling with authors, chatting with fellow fans, and generally just geeking out about books.

For those of you attending be sure to look for us. We have some spots in Promotional Row, with a giveaway sign up and free chocolate (first come first serve). I will be attending some of the parties and socials, including the RWA FFP chapter cocktail on Tuesday evening.

For those of you not attending, please don't fret. We will be blogging live from the conference. We will be tweeting live from the conference. We will be interviewing and attending signings, and basically getting tons of information, all of which we hope to post on the site for our readers.

Check out www.WickedJungle.com to find out which of your favorite authors are attending and get updates throughout the week. Follow @wickedjungle on Twitter or use the #WJatRT  hash tag to get updates. 

Dystopia What-ah??

One of my favorite YA series out now is the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I know your jaw just dropped because you can't believe that I read something other than paranormal romance and urban fantasy. But I do. In fact, I've been craving it recently. Something different, something original, something that doesn't feel like the author created a replica of the exact same supernatural world that existed in the last five books I picked up off the shelves. It doesn't mean I love my PRUF writers any less. Hell, I am one of them! But it does mean that I was eagerly searching for something different to fall in love with.

Boy did I get my wish. I discovered the Hunger Games after attending a YA panel at DragonCon last year. Their were several librarians who basically went through about a hundred YA books out today and gave quick summaries/reviews on each. We had the opportunity to follow along on our own list and mark off anything we wanted to check out based on their comments. Hunger Games was one of those books.

I wasn't certain if I would like it but like many readers, I feel in love with it as soon as I picked it up. It was a surprising delight (not the story, but my love for the story and the characters) because it was so unexpected. It was the same feeling I had when I picked up my first Twilight book back when no one knew what Twilight was.  But, I digress!

So you get the point, I love the books. I can't wait until the third book comes out (which happens to be the week of my birthday).  As I was browsing blogs for the blog hop I discovered an interesting little challenge that Parajunkee was running over at her site and I just had to join in on the fun.

No I know you are thinking, what the heck is Dystopian Fiction! I could answer you, but Parajunkee does it so much better.  Click on the link above to learn more about Dystopian Fiction and the Challenge that ParaJunkee's View has thrown down. There is also a great entry on Wikipedia that lists out Dystopian novels by decade. So no matter what you prefer, the classics or the new stuff, there is something on the list for you. I think I can conquer the challenge. I'm excited about trying, even if we are a few months in. I've already got three books that fit the bill right now. Anyone going to join me?

Book Blogger Hop!

It's that time again!! Okay, well technically it was that time again last Friday, but I have been so busy I haven't had an opportunity to post about all the good finds! So without further introduction..."It's Peanut Butter Jelly Time!! Peanut Butter Jelly Time, Peanut Butter Jelly Time!!" And by that I mean it's Book Blogger Hop Day.

For the full list visit www.crazy-for-books.com

First off, if you aren't familiar with the Book Blogger Hop let me take a few moments to explain.  Basically, every Friday Jennifer starts a post in which anyone with a book blog may add their link. After listing your blog (along with some basic descriptors such as new, old, type of content, etc.) you can browse the list and discover great new sites. I discovered the site about a week ago, so this is my first official time participating but I did find some great reading buddies that I am now following. I wanted to take a moment to share some of my favorites.

1. Confessions of a Book Addict http://bookaddictchris.blogspot.com/ 
A fun YA book review site done by a teacher (Yea, we love teachers!). I was particularly impressed with her review of Hex Hall, as I had just finished reading the book and was looking to get other folks opinions on it.

Another YA blogger, this time focused on my favorite, Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy! I have to admit, Bella won my heart over with her post on the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. It is more science fiction than PR or UF but one of my fav books out in the YA market right now. Bella is doing a huge give-away with some great new and gently used books. I encourage you to check her out!!

And last but certainly not least

3. Parajunkee's View http://www.parajunkee.com
First off this site is gorgeous!! I love it, I love it, I love it. Aside from great reviews and news updates on her site, she does fantastic blog design work and get this: you can commission her to work on your very own project! How cool is that?  You know that old saying, "you can't judge a book by it's cover"? Yeah, its true. Or at least partially. Covers sell books and I am of the strong opinion that a professional looking blog will get you followers. You only have four seconds to capture a new visitor and convince them to browse around on your site. Wouldn't you want to make it count?

Alright folks, that is it. I have more things to do. Can't play all day. If you find a fun site on the blog hop let me know! I can't visit the whole list each week! It's ridiculously long now, but that is a good thing.

New Resources for Authors

I wanted to take a few minutes to talk about a new site that I joined a few months ago called Savvy Authors. This is paid membership group for writers of all genres, new and established. Their focus is on promotion, networking and craft. They offer a lot of great writing resources including a query tracker, an auto critter, craft worksheets and a plethora of free and low-cost workshops. You do not need to be a member to sign up for the workshops but you do get a discount on workshops and the annual fee for membership is relatively low cost.

One of the most exciting new projects they are piloting is a new Blog Tour Wizard, which helps members find blogs for which they can do guest posts! It is still a work in progress, so it is not perfect, but I have high hopes for this and Terry, who is managing the development of the tool is really committed to making it work. Now here is the good news for some of you.

You do not have to be a member to sign up your blog!

Woo Hoo.

So if you are interested visit www.savvyauthors.com. Right now I am taking an amazing workshop by Holly Lisle on Crash Course Revisions. I am really excited about this because I find the revision process to be frantic, stressful, and anxiety producing. Her method of doing revisions is very structured. It is focused on getting through the edits in a timely manner and avoiding things like doubt or perfectionism. I have a habit to fall victim to both! You may still be able to sign up. We are only two days in.

What's On My Bookshelf

I went to the bookstore this morning and bought two knew books. Both of them YA, both new authors that I am excited to read. One of which will be doing a contest for Wicked Jungle next week!

First Book: Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
Hex Hall.jpg

Back Cover Blurb:
Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It's gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supportive as possible, consulting Sophie's estranged father-an elusive European warlock-only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it's her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.

By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.

As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her.

Book Two: The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting
The Body Finder.jpg

Back Cover Blurb:

Violet Ambrose is grappling with two major issues: Jay Heaton and her morbid secret ability. While the sixteen-year-old is confused by her new feelings for her best friend since childhood, she is more disturbed by her "power" to sense dead bodies—or at least those that have been murdered. Since she was a little girl, she has felt the echoes the dead leave behind in the world . . . and the imprints that attach to their killers.
Violet has never considered her strange talent to be a gift; it mostly just led her to find dead birds her cat left for her. But now that a serial killer is terrorizing her small town, and the echoes of the local girls he's claimed haunt her daily, Violet realizes she might be the only person who can stop him.
Despite his fierce protectiveness over her, Jay reluctantly agrees to help Violet find the murderer—and Violet is unnerved by her hope that Jay's intentions are much more than friendly. But even as she's falling intensely in love, Violet is getting closer and closer to discovering a killer . . . and becoming his prey herself.

I can't wait to check em out. So far the reviews for both look good.

Twilight New Moon Giveaway

Hey Peeps,

We have a contest running on Wicked Jungle and are giving away the NEW MOON DVD and SOUNDTRACK!!! It is really simple. All you have to do is post about the contest on your blog and add the link to the Wickedjungle.com comments so that they can verify your entry. You can get additional entries by adding Wicked Jungle to your blogroll or joining the Wicked Jungle Fan Page on Facebook.

Good Luck! Please feel free to repost!

Weekend Fun: Free Excerpts

Imagine my delight when I found this fun little link waiting for me on my Facebook page yesterday! Pocket Books is offering a free sampler from some of my favorite authors! Definitely check out Embers by Laura Bickle and Bad to the Bone by Jeri Smith-Ready. Here is the rest of the line up:

MASTER OF NONE By Sonya Bateman
EMBERS By Lauren Bickle
SHADOW BLADE By Seressia Glass
SPIDER’S BITE By Jennifer Estep
WEB OF LIES By Jennifer Estep
NECKING By Chris Salvatore
BAD TO THE BONE By Jeri Smith-Ready

Enjoy! Let us know if you have a favorite!


That's right! I am in sin city for the first time ever and despite the fact that this was not part of my budgeted expenses this year and I paid a fortune the opportunitiy presented itself and I knew it would be critical for my writing.

Your writing? Yep. My writing. That's what I said. I am doing research for the sequel to Love Sex Magick and it takes place in Las Vegas. We have lots of new characters in this book. One owns a chain of casinos and hotels, the other, a very underground night club. Having never been to Vegas, I felt like it was essential to get the true feel of the city. I am a visual person and I really wanted an authentic and realistic representation. I also feel like the city itself acts as another character in this book given the plot, that did not exist in the first book. So it is really important that I get this right.

Thus I have a suitcase full of goodies. I brought my new flip cam, the tripod. I have my nikon for photos. I have my iphone for voice memos/recordings and I have been taking notes like crazy. Each day I do a quick video of my reactions. What new things did I discover, what was unique about the city that I wouldn't have found out in a book or online. I prefer to take cabs to all the places (though my mom and her roomie would disagree) because the drivers are a wealth of information. I went on a small tour of the strip and was able to learn a ton about the rhythm of the city and have an excuse to take video and photos without explaining that I am researching a book. Though I know some folks were probably like, why is she taking pictures of random things in the hotel? Hasn't she seen a food court.  LOL. Oh well.

I am still deciding but I think i am going to create a fictional casino/hotel but it will be a combination of several different pieces. I took photos of places that felt like they would fit the vibe and vision of what I am looking to create and will add them to the Book 2 Wiki. Yes I said Wiki. I am a nerd. I have a central document where I keep all of the basic stats of the series, character profiles, setting descriptions, timelines, and misc. research. It is so helpful, especially during the editing process to ensure consistency throughout three hundred plus pages of text. If you don't have one I suggest you get started. Especially if you are doing a series because you don't have to go back through the manuscript of book one trying to remember how you described a character's apartment when you are writing book four. It's a time killer! Just ask any of my published friends.

Okay I have rambled enough. I am going to be leaving the strip today. Should be interesting. I will post some of my favorite pics as soon as I get home. Well by the weekend for sure.

Theme of the Day....

Today was all about revisions...apparently the cosmos want me to know that I'm not alone in my struggles to get LSM ready for prime time.  Two quick examples that I just had to share....

1. The Simpsons episode this evening starred Mel Gibson who was screening a movie in springfield and obsessed with good reviews. Of course Homer gave a negative review and despite the fact that all of the other review were amazing he became obsessed with creating a movie that stood up to Homer's taste. Of course, that was a horrid idea and you can only imagine what happened!! It was pretty appropriate, given my mood yesterday.

2. Had to share the quote of the day that I randomly stumbled upon on the FF&P Blog. "We all know the secret to good writing is rewriting--or at least we should!  I’ve never met an author who turned out a perfect manuscript on the first go." Again the perfect sentiment for where my mindset is this week. 

Anyway, hope you all are doing well. Please say hello and if you get a moment hop on over to my side project www.wickedjungle.com. We have two new stories up and would love to know what you think.

Working out the kinks....

I thought I'd get a lot of edits done this weekend but alas, I got very few. Which is completely frustrating. To be honest I've been in a little bit of a funk the last two days. I'm struggling with the edits to LSM, getting feedback from a lot of different people and of course there isn't much agreement on anything. So now I am stuck with the challenging task of deciding which feedback is worth embracing and which is worth tossing. Because lets be real, you can't please everyone and that is certainly not my objective.  On the other hand, it is foolish to believe that your work cannot be improved upon. To be honest, I think it is one of the harder aspects of writing. Everyone has an opinion and some people are going to like your work and some people aren't.

So here I am at 1 in the morning, rambling on my blog because I am feeling not so good about the status of my novel. Wait, I should clarify. I love the book. And having the feedback of my peers has given me some insight which I know will only enhance the story and the likelihood that it will sell. I think I am simply disappointed that not everyone loves all of the characters as much as I do. Which perhaps is my fault. I'm not sure. It seems that I failed to do my job as a writer and provide them with opportunities to fall in love with the characters or sympathize with them or at least stop hating them. Annoyance and hatred I didn't expect. But then I think about some of the books I've purchased and hated. There are character's that I cannot stand, series that I have stopped reading because I didn't agree with a major plot point, (like killing off a beloved character). Certain things are not my style or preference, but plenty of other people love it. So in general does everyone but me hate the characters or is it a matter of preference. Are people just being nice to spare my feelings when secretly they don't like or get the characters either?

This is where I get into trouble and have to distance myself.  This is also why I am writing this post. Because I, Missy Lynn Ryan,  am a people pleaser. I like praise, recognition and will often ignore my own thoughts or feelings in order to  receive the praise and approval of others.  I've been doing it for many years. In fact, some of my earliest memories deal with me sacrificing my happiness and well-being in an effort to seek approval from someone else.

On the flip side, I am also incredibly harsh on myself. I put so much pressure on myself to be perfect that the fear of failure paralyzes my ability to move forward.  I just finished watching the Oscars and am reminding myself that I am willingly choosing to be in a business that is full of criticism. That in itself is a huge risk. You have to have enough confidence in yourself to keep moving forward even when some people think you should walk away. You have to have a vision of who you are and what you want to become even if the end seems impossible to obtain.  I know that I am not perfect and that is okay. I know that I am not defined by the thoughts and opinions of others, which if you can come to that point in your life, is an absolutely freeing moment.

That said, I am not posting this to whine about crits of my work that I don't understand or disagree with. I am posting this because I know there are other writers struggling with the exact same thoughts and emotions. As writers, we like to pretend that it is all so easy. Writing is hard. Rewriting is hard. Releasing your project for the world to see, judge, love or hate, is even harder. But you aren't alone and just as I am going to keep tweaking LSM and trying to get this book published, so should you follow your dream, no matter how far off it seems.

Peace out for now. I really need to try and sleep, or tomorrow I am going to be one cranky lady.

Writing Update

It's been a while since I posted, well by a while I mean two days! I know, can you believe it. My new MacBook has got to be my favorite purchase in a long, long time. Probably haven't been this excited about something since I purchased a Wii two years ago.  Anyway, I wanted to give some quick updates on my writing and various projects.

1. Love, Sex, Magick.  I am actively seeking an agent and getting ready to submit to some publishers that don't require an agent. In fact I sent out the second query this morning. I'm starting to get a little nervous. One woman told me that she sent out 62 queries before signing with her agent. Another only did four or five queries. Talk about a drastic difference. It makes me wonder, was the quality of the work that different or was it just a matter of luck and timing. So much of securing an agent is about finding the right person with the right need that can fully represent you and your work. That is not an easy thing to do. I guess my writing grants for non-profits has helped me mentally prepare for this. I know that you are going to get a certain amount of negative responses.  Inevitably people are going to say no and it doesn't always have to do with the quality of the validity of your project/work. Sometimes there are factors at play that you couldn't have known about or cannot control. That said, all you writers who are struggling on this journey with me: chin up! The sun will always come out tomorrow.

2. Wicked Jungle. It is up and running and in full swing. We posted our first round of fiction on Monday. Two really fun short stories that I think you will love. I've been tweaking the layout. All posts on the homepage now have thumbnail images. We are adding profiles on some of our favorite books. Let us know if their is a new novel coming out that you think we should feature. If you are a new author and want to do a guest post we can arrange that as well! Basically, it is a lot of time but I am having so much fun and the Mac has made my life so much easier. I can barely work on the Dell anymore.

3. General Writing. Started outlining next book in the LSM series. It takes place in Las Vegas and coincidentally I will be in Vegas next week. Hopefully I will have my new flip cam with me so I can document some of the "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" moments. I'm planning on doing a few touristy things and exploring some of the hotels and casinos. One of my characters owns a Casino and I am curious to see if something their matches the vision in my head. I'll get off the strip a little bit. My company has an office about 6 miles away and hopefully I will work from their one day. I should probably think about general questions I want to ask residents of the city and see if I can pick their brains.

Anyway that is it. My life is all about writing, Wicked Jungle, and more writing.

Fun to be had for Writers

Just wanted to share a few fun things happening around the blogosphere this week. Writers, this post is for you!!

Jane Friedman of Writer's Digest has a weekly feature on her blog where she recaps the best writer tweets. My favorite one by @MarleneStringer "Received 12 rejections in one day? STOP subbing that Q! You are targeting the wrong agents, or the Q needs revision".

Check out the rest of the article here: Best Tweets for Writers

Also the Guide to Literary Agents blog is hosting its third "Dear Lucky Agent" Contest and this time the focus is on Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy authors. So if you fall into this category, I would hop on over to the site and check out the contest rules. I already sent in my entry.  I figured, what could it hurt. Apparently they do these contests a couple times a month and the genre changes with the agent.  So bookmark the site and check it out every so often to see what they have lined up.

Alice by Avril Lavigne

Have you seen this video yet? I love this song so much. I can't wait to see the new Alice in Wonderland movie. Despite the fact that I have to admit I did not like at all the disney version and have never finished the book.

Special Alert!! Publishing Opportunity with Juno Books

Urban fantasy authors with a finished manuscript looking for a publisher should check out Juno Books. For a limited time it sounds like they are accepting submissions. Must be those overly productive snowy days that got Paula all caught up. Three of my favorite authors are published by Juno and they have had a great experience thus far. So I strongly encourage you all to take advantage of the opportunity and let me know how it goes.

Check out the Juno Authors
Alayna Williams http://www.alaynawilliams.com/
Laura Bickle http://www.salamanderstales.blogspot.com/
Linda Robertson http://www.wolfsbaneandabsinthe.com/

Happy Half- Birthday to Me!!!

Today, Feb 26, is my half-birthday. I know. My parents say it is silly to celebrate your half-birthday. But I find that sometimes we don't spend enough time celebrating. Why should I have to wait a whole year to celebrate all the good things that are happening. Half-Birthdays are great, they are low pressure, don't require a ton of gifts or extravagant parties. It's just you and the people you care about most, having a good time.

Which is why of course I am posting an entry on my awesome blog. Thanks so much for being a part of my writing journey! When I make it big (notice I said when, not if), I will always remember the blood, sweat, and tears we shared together. There is always time to chat with friends and fans!

So what is my half-birthday present....

I'm getting a MACBOOK!!!! Woo Hoo. Tax Gods finally came through and that money is burning a hole in my pocket. I will take pictures and post as soon as I have it in my hot little hands. And yes, that is a very extravagant gift for a half-bday present...but this is a big half-bday. I'm going to be 30 in six months! Eek. That makes me feel so old and yet so established!


No Go for Amazon Competition

I finally found out about ten minutes ago that I did not make it to the second round of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Competition. I don't know whether I should be sad or relieved. I was starting to get nervous about the timing of the whole thing. I really wanted to start sending out queries to Agents. In fact I sent my first official query out yesterday and I was a nervous wreck. I kept thinking, what if she is really interested and I have to explain to her that the book is in this contest and Penguin has first right of refusal for six months. Ugh. I can't imagine how that conversation would go.

On the other hand everyone likes a little self-gratification. Even though I know the competition favors mainstream vs. genre, it would have been nice to feel like someone thought it was good. Even if it was three judges I know absolutely nothing about.

Oh well. Now I am free to pursue the agents, which is what I wanted in the first place. I am hoping to meet with a few in April at the RT convention.

Keeping Your Writing Spirit Alive

Many of you know that I recently entered Love Sex Magick into the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition sponsored by (you guessed it) Amazon and their subsidiary CreateSpace. I was super excited about participating as this was a low investment, low risk opportunity that allowed me to feel like I was doing something with my novel. For those of you who are not writers, this business is all about the waiting. It takes months, sometimes years) to get a manuscript ready for primetime, especially when you are a new writer and still developing your craft. I wanted to feel like I wasn’t just waiting for a response from an editor or agent. I wanted to know that I was taking advantage of all opportunities to get this baby published.

Today is the first deadline for the competition. Over the last two or three days I have been reading through the forums, and let me just tell you, it is completely depressing. Some folks have entered this contest year after year. They spent months before the submission period even opened, working on their submission and fretting over how quickly the 5,000 slots would fill up. I have heard a lot of bad things about the competition: that it is disorganized, that it is a complete crap shoot, that your odds of winning are like winning the lottery!

Everyone is entitled to their opinion and there may be some truth to the disorganization and lack of structure of the competition (at least in year’s past). What worries me is how much weight folks are putting on this single opportunity for publishing. You probably have a stronger chance of getting published by submitting your manuscript to an agent or editor the traditional way than entering a competition with 10,000 other contestants vying for two spots. Knowing this, why would you define the success of your writing career on whether or not you win this competition? My goal was never to win. If I do, well that would just be a high power at work. My goal was to make it to the online voting. I wanted to have my excerpt on the site. I wanted to generate a little bit of traffic to my blog. I wanted people excited and interested about my novel and eagerly awaiting my next move. And maybe there was a little bit of self-indulgence here. I just wanted some validation for the quality of my work. As an aspiring author, we don’t get that opportunity very often.

Unfortunately, not having realistic expectations can really mess with your mind and your confidence as a writer. So can hanging around too many aspiring authors that are caught in that negative cycle of, “this is a complete waste of time,” “no one ever gets published,” “I’m the world’s most amazing writer and the industry is screwing me over.” Seriously, get a grip. I believe one should have confidence in themselves and their work. I also believe that sometimes writers are overconfident and can’t see the flaws in their own work because they are simply way too close to the project. It’s like thinking someone else’s kids are spoiled rotten brats and not realizing your children act the same way. Parents are often blind to the flaws of their children and in some cases for good reason. Writers tend to do this too, simply because they have invested so much (time, money, blood, sweat and tears!) into their manuscript. But to be successful in this business we need to know how to take criticism of our work and use it to make our writing better.

One man made a post and said he had been rejected by nearly 100 editors. My first thought was, did you learn anything from any of those rejections? For me, after the first twenty five I might have signed up for some consultation sessions at a conference with an agent or editor or submitted it to one of my writing groups with the specific intention of trying to figure out what is not working.

Call me crazy, but I believe that if you are a strong writer and put together a strong novel, it will get published. Someone will eventually buy it or agree to represent you. The bottom line is publishing is a business and if they think your book will sell and make money, they are not going to turn you away. The man I referenced above, after reading more of his posts I realized he knew very little about the business of writing. The methods in which he was using to get in front of a publisher and try and convince them to buy his work was probably contributing to his lack of success in that endeavor.  Bottom line….if you really want to be a published author: (1) write a good story, and (2) learn the proper etiquette of the business.

Love Sex Magick Update

Big stuff happening over here in Missy Lynn Land. Today I submitted my first official e-query to an agent at the top of my dream agent list. I have had the query written for about a month but was still making tweaks to the first chapter. Then I submitted the novel into the Amazon Breakthrough Novel contest and the timing just didn't seem right. Now I am attending the RT Booklover's convention and planning on meeting with Agents and Editors there too. Anyway, to make a long story short, I decided it was time to take the plunge. Hitting send was the hardest thing I've done thus far. And to make it worse this particular agent doesn't send rejections...so I have to wait a month or so and if I don't get a bite that means they are not interested.

Wish me luck. Lots of opportunity to make it pro this year. I have book two started and a YA in my back pocket.

Wicked Jungle

If you haven't checked out Wicked Jungle yet you should. It's a new online community for paranormal romance and urban fantasy readers and writers. Honestly, there's a little something for everyone.

For new and aspiring writers: The site is looking for flash fiction and short stories in the genre to publish. Payment is exposure only, but reprints are welcome. This means that fun little piece you wrote for character development, to test your writing muscles...you can submit that. Or the flash piece you shared on your website or blog last year, you can submit that too. Wicked Jungle wants fans of the genre to be able to find short fiction and discover new authors, especially while that author is in that illusive stage between having a contract and waiting for that book to hit shelves.

For published authors: Wicked Jungle wants to celebrate and promote your success. If you have a published novel on book shelves now they will happily post an excerpt and cover image to feature on the home page of the website. They also have a guest blog which you are welcome to use to post contests and give-aways around the time of your book release.

For fans: As if having access to new flash fiction and short stories in the genre weren't cool enough and the contests, guest blogs, and book excerpts weren't the cherry on your hot fudge sunday, we also have wicked awesome media for you to enjoy. There is an entire page devoted to videos and you can find all of our favorite book trailers in one central place. This is also home to their own video book reviews, author interviews and other Wicked Jungle goodies.

So head on over to WickedJungle.com now and check it out. Better yet recommend it to your friends and followers.