All about Helping…

This month our topic was, well, there was no topic. It’s a “freebie” month. Scene13ers get to blog about anythingFirst Cover Reveal!they want. Well, normally I don’t like freebies. I freeze. I over-think until I can’t think. I stress myself out to the point that my stress is stressed. But this month something really great happened and I want to share.

Last month I shared that I signed a contract to publish my first young adult contemporary romance, “Unspeakable.” Now I have a novella, “Finding Willow,” releasing, too. But as great as that is, it’s not what I want to write about.

When I wrote my debut novel, “PODs,” I knew nothing about the writing community. I didn’t use critique partners or Betas—I didn’t know what a Beta was! I had no idea there were bloggers that lived to review books, nor did I know how many there were.

But writing “Unspeakable” I had a group of ladies who read my work and told me honestly what worked, what they liked, and what they loved. Man, that was a great feeling to hear them gush over my book! Then came the second half of their email… “And this is what sucks…” Well, that let the air out of my balloon.

Second Cover Reveal!

Second Cover Reveal!

So I read their critiques, did some rewriting and had some Beta readers take a look, mainly girls the age the book would be marketed toward, and of course my group of critique partners.

Their suggestions made a huge difference. “Unspeakable” went from a good book, to a great (IMHO) book. And I realize now how essential, how priceless my CPs and Betas are in my writing career.

But there’s one other group of people other than the bloggers who are golden to authors, CPs and Betas who are priceless, and that group is other authors.

I had two cover reveals in a week. I found out about both the day before. Whoa. So I started emailing anyone I could think of that might help. And the response was Amazing. Many of you already know this because you blog here, and you stepped-up and helped. I want to tell you, you are AWESOME.

The authors that dropped everything to set-up a post at the very last minute—twice—just rocked. The way they came together to help really showed me how tight the bond is between authors. Well, how it should be, anyway.

I love helping other authors. I keep a blog for that reason, and only that reason. But to have it turned around and the help focused on me was a very prodigious experience. And for those of you who helped, thank you. You made my cover reveals awesome.

How about you? Have you ever had a time when you needed help and authors or bloggers jumped in?

It's time to read!

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I don’t wanna grow up!

When I saw this month’s topic was on funny books or books with humor incorporated somehow, I immediately forgot all the incredibly humorous books I’ve ever read. So, I’ve been systematically going through the files of my muddled brain trying to find something to write about (that’s actually worth reading).

Then I sat down to do a review of a children’s book with my daughters. I review the Clara's Crazy Curlsbook and they read it for their reading homework—a twofer. So what, right? Well, I’ve been doing this for the past few months. I’ve reviewed around a dozen books and I’ve laughed right along with my girls when we read them. There’s some funny stuff in children’s books!

So my short and sweet point is, stop and smell the little things (flowers, books, cartoons, whatever). I realized while I was agonizing over what to write for this article, that I sometimes overlook the child in me. I get too wrapped up in the “grown-up Michelle” that I forget it’s okay to let go and be silly sometimes.

Yes, I’ve read many, many young adult, new adult and adult books that have been funny and I’ve laughed out loud while reading them. And if I sat here long enough I’d remember some of the titles (maybe, brain cells are dying every day…). But I’ve had an incredible time reading some of the children’s books and letting my inner child come out to play and remembering how to laugh at the silly stuff.

Sometimes we need to slow down and see the world through the eyes of a child again.

Sometimes we need to slow down and see the world through the eyes of a child again.

It's time to read!

Elevators and writing? Sure!

Elevators. I don’t much care for them. Not since I was young and stuck in one. It hovered over ten floors, just a cable held it aloft. A cable—well maybe there was more than one, I didn’t look to check—was all that kept us from meeting the concrete basement floor in a way no one wants to meet it…very quickly.

These thoughts ran through my head as I stood in front of the bank of elevators Elevator1-300x225waiting to board the next available car of doom to transport me to the fourteenth floor. Okay, okay, maybe ‘car of doom’ is a little extreme. But, hey, I was a kid when I was stuck in that elevator and I had just drunk a whole juice box and we were stuck there for two hours. I had to pee. If that combined with the threat of gravity sucking us down to crash land on the basement floor don’t spell doom I don’t know what does.

Finally the little ‘ding’ sounds and informs me the elevator has arrived. I step aboard. My hands are sweaty and the sides of my stomach clench. I seriously rethink the taco I ate from the Taqueria on the corner of the road on my way to my appointment.

It’s then that Abbie speaks. Well, she speaks to me. The rest of the people in the elevator have no idea Abbie is riding with us since she is one of my ‘imaginary friends.’ You know, one of the voices writers hear talking in their heads? Anyway, she informs me that she shares the same fear of elevators I do. She has an interesting story of a time when she was trapped in an elevator. I listen to her tell her tale and by the time the car of doom reaches the fourteenth floor, Abbie has told me the beginning of a great story. And I realize that even in the mundane, we find writing gems.

Since that elevator ride Abbie and I have become great friends. We’ve worked together to put her story on paper…all because of a shared hatred of elevators.

By the way, Abbie also told me there is no official phobia for the fear of elevators, but there is a phobia, Porphyrophobia, for the color purple. Strange but true.

Writers…Friends

The topic this month is writer’s choice. I’ve had the hardest time narrowing down what I Sherry, D'Vora, Marie, Brooke, Mewanted to focus on. But when Spencer Hill Press recently decided to attend Comic Con in NYC in October and I realized I’m not going to be able to attend, the topic hit me. Friends. I’ve meet so many writers since I’ve become active in the writing community, online and especially at BEA. But it’s more than meeting “writers.” They’ve become friends. A support system. People who understand the demands of this crazy career we’ve chosen (and love). People I can talk to about “voices” in my head and they don’t look at me like I need to be thrown into a padded cell (ha-ha).

Kelly, Lisa, Me, Dorothy from Scene13 blog - CopyWhen I wrote PODs I didn’t know about the vast writing community. I wrote without critique partners or beta readers. I missed the support and input they can offer a writer. Now that I’ve met both writers and bloggers I realize the writing community is more than a bunch of authors pushing their books. It’s a group of people supporting, encouraging and caring about each other.

So while some of my writer friends will be hanging together in NYC, I’ll be in Texas missing them like I have everyday since BEA.

Because I haven’t just met authors. I’ve met dear friends. And for that, I’m so thankful.

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Summer Reading = Summer Critiquing

This summer I’m doing something I’ve never done before. I’m critiquing other writers’ work and they are critiquing mine. When I first started writing I didn’t know anything about critique groups or beta readers. I just winged it.

After I learned of betas and CPs I found it hard to find a group to join. The writers I met had already built relationships with other writers and most weren’t looking to add another person to the mix, because of time or various other reasons.

Capture

But recently a writer friend from another publishing house asked if I wanted to exchange work. I jumped at the chance. Then she introduced me to a writer she uses as CP, who introduced me to her CP and before I knew it I went from zero to four in a matter of a few weeks.

Before I met the wonderful group of CPs I have now, I’d often wondered if critique partners and betas were really helpful or not and I have to say…absolutely! I’ve learned so much from them. They have great eyes and have caught things in my writing—both grammatically and plot related—that I’d missed. Their feedback and ideas have been incredible.

But more than that, their encouragement has been priceless.

So my summer is filled with books that haven’t hit the shelves yet. Some don’t have titles; some aren’t even finished—and I’m so excited to read them!

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The transition from behind to in front…

The 1st of the month was my first book signing. I signed copies of PODs at Book Expo America. And if you ask anyone who was there, I was scared to death. I’m not a huge fan of large crowds. I’m the type of person who loves to chat and joke with people in small 419112_553233378052400_1138348766_ngroups, but I’d rather have a root canal than speak in public. To this day I’m convinced my public speaking professor in college gave me a passing grade because she felt sorry for me. I mean, how could she not? I turned into a blotchy, hived covered, squeaky voiced, mess every time I had to give a speech. I get hives just remembering it.

But this month I found myself transitioning from the writer hiding behind her computer to an author in front of readers and bloggers. And while my hands shook and my voice wavered (and I’m positive I had a hive or two), I realized that the readers and bloggers weren’t going to bite. They were as excited to see me as I was to see them. Unbelievable!

By the time my signing was over I found myself having something I never thought I thought possible while in the public spotlight…fun. I loved meeting the readers. Their excitement was almost intoxicating. And it was wonderful to meet bloggers in person whom I’d been emailing for months.

I won’t say my book signing cured me of my fear of public speaking. In fact, I’m positive it hasn’t. But it has helped me transition into a person who is more willing to push her boundaries and step outside her comfort zone and step into the public speaking arena…hives and all.

Oh, and one more transition for the month…I went from pre-published to debut young adult published author. PODs released the 4th!

Michelle 🙂

Do I write about zombies…or am I one?

And there it goes down the road. A cheery yellow blob disappearing into the horizon, and with it, my carefully planned, but rarely kept, writing schedule. *Sigh*Evan

It’s May and the end of the school year is here. And that means I can kiss my writing time buh-bye.  At least writing during the day. I’ll find time to write/edit. Usually between the hours of ten p.m. and three a.m. with a few hours of sleep before the twins plop in the middle of my bed at approximately seven a.m. demanding breakfast between sticking their faces so close to mine my eyes cross trying to focus. After I drag myself out of bed and plod downstairs to pour Trix for one girl and Fruity Pebbles for the other (I know, very healthy. I give them fruit, too. Don’t judge me! ha-ha), hand the wrong bowl to each girl, exchange the bowls, pop open a Red Bull (because that’s my coffee), walk by the rec. room and tell my son to turn down the Xbox, because surely there are parental abuse laws somewhere that state those things can’t be played at the volume he plays them that early, I’ll drop on the couch and wonder why I stayed up so late the night before and it’ll hit me.  Oh, yeah. I love writing.

So bring on the obstacles of summer vacation, because I actually love having my kids home. Larry and I tried to get pregnant for ten years before Evan was born and another four years before Aleigha and Alana were born. So, summer vacation isn’t an inconvenience, DSC_4675just a minor bump in my writing schedule that I need to work around. The endless trips to the pool, the park, the play dates, summer camps, day camps, sporting events, water parks, the beach, the zoo, Sea World, and the general taxi service I drive for my kids and my mother (who doesn’t drive), I’ll take it all and smile, enjoying every second of it, even if I’m a little (or a lot) bleary eyed and feeling like a member of the walking dead in one of my novels.

And later, when my family is dreaming in their beds, it’ll be my turn to dream…just me and my laptop.

Michelle 🙂
Author, PODs available June 4th
Milayna available March 11, 2014
The Infected, a PODs novel available November 2014

(photo: Alana on the left and Aleigha on the right)