Being Happy and Thankful!

In honor of my 40th birthday, I made a video for myself. It talks about things that make me happy. I like to think I am thankful for all the things that make me happy, so, in that vein, I am going to re-share it here. I hope you enjoy watching it as much as I enjoyed making it!

 

Happy November!

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Facing Fears

I have this theory that we need to face our fears and push through them many times. So here are a couple (just for fun) things that have scared me in the past (and may still scare me in the future).

scoprionScorpion! We find these in our house probably five times a year. Not this big at all, but they still freak me out a bit each time.

tarantualSpiders! Especially the big ones. I’ve seen these out in the parks and stuff but never one in the house so far.

Happy October and Happy Halloween!

 

The Habit of Reading

Hey there, P. J. Hoover here, and this month we’re talking about summer reading. Specifically, I want to talk about the habit of reading and ways to keep it going during the summer.

I’m not sure if anyone else’s schedule is like mine, but during the summer, things go crazy. Between traveling and visitors and camps for the kids, what I hope to be a schedule normally lasts for five days at the most before external forces cause it to change. Because of this, I’m offering up my tips to keep you reading even when you feel like there is no time.

1) Audiobooks

Seriously, these things are the best. I’ve listened to 40 hour books in ten minutes spurts driving to and from camps and kids’ activities. Join a site like Audible.com and enjoy the bliss that a seriously amazing narrator will provide.

2) Preparation

Bring your book everywhere. This way, if you have ten minutes to kill, you can read a chapter. Waiting on the doctor? Read a chapter. It makes every wait so much more tolerable. In the event you forget your book, see either (1) above or (3) below.

3) eReaders

Nook, iPad, Kindle…it really doesn’t matter. What does matter is having something like this to help with those times when you are traveling and forgot to pack a book. Don’t want to invest in an eReader? How about your smart phone? You can download the reading app of your choice and never be left without reading material again.

4) Family Reading Time

Kids wanting to play computer? Getting too much TV? Drop everything and read. All of you. It makes them feel special that they get to participate in the same activity you’re participating in, and the bonus is you actually get to read, too.

5) Bedtime Reading

Even if it’s only a couple pages before you drift off to sleep, read every night. Some nights I make it 5 pages. Some nights I read an entire book. Whatever the case, it’s a habit I’m in, and I love it.

Okay, that’s what I have! Now you tell me. What’s your favorite tip to keep the reading momentum moving forward?

*****

P. J. Hoover is the author of the dystopia/mythology YA book, SOLSTICE (Tor Teen, June 2013), the upcoming Egyptian mythology MG book, TUT (Tor Children’s, 2014), and the middle-grade SFF series, THE FORGOTTEN WORLDS BOOKS (CBAY, 2008-2010). You can read more about her and her books on P. J.’s website or blog.

Survival Tips for Writers with Kids

Hi, P. J. Hoover here, and today I’m talking about transitions. There are so many directions I could take this: the transition of a book about to be released, the transition between chapters in a book. But I’m going to go for the very sensible transition as the summer solstice approaches:

The transition into summer

During the school year my kids are in school which is all great and provides me some semblance of a normal schedule. But when summer starts, everything changes. All of a sudden, the kids are home with me most of the time. Our evenings are scattered, and activities like baseball and football start to fall off the calendar. And most days, the kids want to grab their friends and head to the pool.

What is a writer to do? There are so many things that need to be done, from writing new words to preparing for a book release. From taking care of stuff around the house to packing for vacations.

Here are five basic summer survival tips for those writers who have kids:

1) Embrace the video games

Maybe this sounds horrible, but my kids get two hours of video games a day. These two hours become my golden writing time. I tell them I’m busy in my office and that they should do their very best to take care of themselves.

2) Multitask

Heading to the pool? I bring my laptop along and take it as the perfect opportunity to get some blog posts done. If I copy interview questions into a Word doc ahead of time, I don’t even need WiFi.

3) Wake early

It’s worth it. This quiet time around the house can be used for checking email, exercising, or writing. Whatever the case, find that silence and live just a moment in it.

4) Set expectations

Make a list of every daily activity you want to get accomplished, and do the same for your kids. Make a list of everything you expect them to do each day. Things like (1) be active, (2) work on math, (3) reading, etc. Setting the expectations ahead of time will encourage them to get those things marked off their list.

5) Have fun

It’s summer. Take some time to chat by the pool or head to the park. It’s not all about the work. Those days with your children will soon be gone.

*****

P. J. Hoover is the author of the upcoming dystopia/mythology YA book, SOLSTICE (Tor Teen, June 2013), the upcoming Egyptian mythology MG book, TUT (Tor Children’s, Winter 2014), and the middle-grade SFF series, THE FORGOTTEN WORLDS BOOKS (CBAY, 2008-2010). You can read more about her and her books on P. J.’s website or blog.

June Preview!!

We’ve got another great month of releases coming up!!

Michelle Pickette’s PODs releases June 4th from Spencer Hill Press:

podsSeventeen-year-old Eva is a chosen one. Chosen to live, while others meet a swift and painful death from an incurable virus so lethal, a person is dead within days of symptoms emerging. In the POD system, a series of underground habitats built by the government, she waits with the other chosen for the deadly virus to claim those above. Separated from family and friends, it’s in the PODs she meets David. And while true love might not conquer all, it’s a balm for the broken soul.

After a year, scientists believe the population has died, and without living hosts, so has the virus. That’s the theory, anyway. But when the PODs are opened, survivors find the surface holds a vicious secret. The virus mutated, infecting those left top-side and creating… monsters.
Eva and David hide from the infected in the abandoned PODs. Together they try to build a life–a new beginning. But the infected follow and are relentless in their attacks. Leaving Eva and David to fight for survival, and pray for a cure.

Dorothy Dreyer’s My Sister’s Reaper releases June 18th from Month9Books

sistersreaperSixteen-year-old Zadie’s first mistake was telling the boy she liked she could bring her dead sister back to life. Her second mistake was actually doing it.

When Zadie accidentally messes with the Reaper’s Rite that should have claimed her sister Mara, things go horribly wrong. Mara isn’t the same anymore—Zadie isn’t even sure she’s completely human. To top it off, a Reaper is determined to collect Mara’s soul. Now Zadie must figure out how to defeat her sister’s Reaper or let Mara die … this time for good.

 

PJ Hoover’s Solstice releases June 18th from Tor Teen:

solstice_cover_275_411Piper’s world is dying. Each day brings hotter temperatures and heat bubbles that threaten to destroy the earth. Amid this global heating crisis, Piper lives under the oppressive rule of her mother, who suffocates her even more than the weather does. Everything changes on her eighteenth birthday, when her mother is called away on a mysterious errand and Piper seizes her first opportunity for freedom.

Piper discovers a universe she never knew existed—a sphere of gods and monsters—and realizes that her world is not the only one in crisis. While gods battle for control of the Underworld, Piper’s life spirals out of control as she struggles to find the answer to the secret that has been kept from her since birth.

Kimberly Ann Miller’s Triangles releases June 18th from Spencer Hill Press:

kim coverA cruise ship. A beautiful island. Two sexy guys. What could possibly go wrong?

In the Bermuda Triangle – a lot.

Hoping to leave behind the reminders of her crappy life–her father’s death years ago, her mother’s medical problems, and the loser who’s practically stalking her–seventeen-year-old Autumn Taylor hops on a ship with her sister for a little distraction. When she wakes up in the Bermuda Triangle, she fears she’s gone nuts for more than one reason: that loser is suddenly claiming they’re a happy couple… a hot guy is wrapping his arms around her and saying “Happy Anniversary”… and suddenly, she’s full of bruises, losing her hair, and getting IV medication. Autumn visits the ship’s doctor, hoping for a pill or a shot to make the craziness go away. Instead, she’s warned that these “alternate realities” could become permanent.

She just has to ask herself one question – how the hell is she going to get out of this mess?

Robyn DeHart’s The Secrets of Mia Danvers releases June 18th from NAL:

600149_10200771614755067_1586137962_nA lone witness finds her protector…

Since losing her sight in a childhood accident, Mia Danvers has resided in a small cottage on the vast Carrington estate. Thought to be dead, Mia lives a life of virtual seclusion—until one night, while walking home, she happens upon a horrendous crime.

Alex Foster, Eighth Duke of Carrington, lives according to society’s expectations for him. He’s never met the woman who lives in the cottage at the edge of his property. But when she arrives at his door in the pouring rain terrified and claiming she has witnessed a murder, she seizes his attention.

Mia is determined to help the authorities track down the culprit, even though the only person willing to accept her aid is the handsome, arrogant duke. Working closely together proves difficult as Mia’s beauty and independence tempts Alex to ignore convention and follow his desire. But what neither of them know is that this murderer has struck before in Whitechapel, taunting the British press only to vanish—a ruthless killer who knows that Mia is the only living witness to his crime…

Jennifer Allis Provost’s Copper Girl releases June 25th from Spence City:

CopperGirlsFRONTcoverFINALSara had always been careful.
She never spoke of magic, never associated with those suspected of handling magic, never thought of magic, and never, ever, let anyone see her mark. After all, the last thing she wanted was to end up missing, like her father and brother.
Then, a silver elf pushed his way into Sara’s dream, and her life became anything but ordinary.

For more info on all these amazing releases, check out the author’s pages above.

 

 

This month’s theme is Transitions, so be sure to check in each day for each author’s interpretation 🙂

Spring Cleaning your Manuscript

Hi, P. J. Hoover here, and today I’m talking about Spring Cleaning! There’s nothing quite like a little change in the weather to motivate me to clean around the house. But it doesn’t stop with the house. Why not take this wonderful time to spring clean your current manuscript?

Here are 5 ways to Spring Clean your Manuscript…

1) The darlings

They must be killed. Yes, I know they are special to you, but that’s where it stops. Those jokes that seem so funny in your mind might actually not be very funny to anyone else. So identify as many darlings are you can, call them out for what they are, and destroy them.

2) The cliches

Yes, every single one. The road to hell isn’t paved with good intentions. It’s paved with cliches. The time for cliched writing is gone with the wind. So if your kid comes home and mentions a great cliche they learned in class today and you have that cliche in your manuscript, take that as a sign from the universe and give it the ax.

3) The title

Are you sure your title works? Is this perhaps the perfect time to take a look at it and really consider if it is going to capture the attention your wonderful darling-free and cliche-free manuscript deserves? Did another book just come out with the same title? Take a step back and at least consider some other options. You may surprise yourself with what you come up with.

4) The adverbs

Yes, these are the words we all love that end in “ly.” Cut. Them. All. And then, only if you desperately feel like you need one badly, put it back in sparingly. They don’t have a place. And I’m talking about after dialogue tags, too. People may say things gruffly, but I don’t want to be told that. I want to be shown that.

5) The backstory

Sure, you care about what happened to your characters before. You’ve mapped out their lives. Their parents have jobs. Their siblings have best friends. You know all the places they frequent. But that doesn’t mean your reader needs to know or will care one hoot about any of this stuff. Drop us in the action and then dribble in ONLY THE IMPORTANT DETAILS later on.

Happy Spring! And Happy Writing and Revising!

*****

P. J. Hoover is the author of the upcoming dystopia/mythology YA book, SOLSTICE (Tor Teen, June 2013), the upcoming Egyptian mythology MG book, TUT (Tor Children’s, Winter 2014), and the middle-grade SFF series, THE FORGOTTEN WORLDS BOOKS (CBAY, 2008-2010). You can read more about her and her books on P. J.’s website or blog.

SMART LUCK

Hi, P. J. Hoover here, and today I’m talking about luck. Namely smart luck. See, I’m one of these people who believes I can do anything. If I put my mind to something, I will succeed. But people like me have found out one thing:

 Many things are harder than they seem.

 Sure, tons of people want to write a book. Actually sitting down and bringing a story idea to completion is an entirely different thing. It’s a lot harder to write a book than to have a great idea. Another thing that is harder than it seems is getting a book published. When I wrote my first book, I had visions of people knocking on my door, begging to publish it. Yeah, it didn’t happen quite that way. Lots of things have to come together in just the right way in order to get a book published. And these things are after the book has been written.

It starts with revisions. An author who writes a book has to be willing to revise in order to get a book published. So, great, you think you’re willing to revise. But how do you know what to revise? It takes finding the right person to give you feedback. Finding someone who isn’t afraid to tell you what needs work. And trust me, finding the right critique partner isn’t easy. It takes luck. But smart luck (which I’ll come back to).

Okay, so you revise your story. Then what? Well, you have to find the right advocates for your book. If you go the agent route, your agent has to believe not only in your story, but in you. Agents get lots of submissions. Actually finding the right agent takes a bit of luck. But once again, smart luck.

Ditto an editor. Finding that right editor at the perfect publishing house is a lot like throwing dice. Except…right, the smart luck thing.

So what do I mean when I say smart luck? Let’s first think about the critique partners. Is the best way to find one just to randomly show up to a critique group and begin reading your story? Well, it’s a start. But every critique partner isn’t for every person. As you’re getting your toes wet, take note of who you actually seem to click with. Whose input you truly value. Take chances and go from there.

On to the agent. Sure, you can blind query. You can look up every single agent and send the same letter, maybe customized with their name, to every single agent. Finding an agent this way takes a whole heck of a lot of luck. Insert smart luck. Which agents really will mesh with your story? When you get rejections, what are they saying? Are they offering invaluable feedback? If so, take it!

The same thing goes with an editor. Getting the right editor at the right house is a tricky business. It can seem impossible at times. But tipping the scales to know the business can make all the difference in the world.

So yeah, the whole business of publishing has a ton of luck involved. Do everything you can to tip that balance of luck to your favor.

*****

P. J. Hoover is the author of the upcoming dystopia/mythology YA book, SOLSTICE (Tor Teen, June 2013), the upcoming Egyptian mythology MG book, TUT (Tor Children’s, Winter 2014), and the middle-grade SFF series, THE FORGOTTEN WORLDS BOOKS (CBAY, 2008-2010). You can read more about her and her books on P. J.’s website or blog.