Ten Ways to Tighten Your Writing & Hook the Reader

Originally posted on Kristen Lamb's Blog:

Screen Shot 2013-03-15 at 9.40.52 AM Image via CellarDoorFilms W.A.N.A. Commons

When I used to edit for a living, I earned the moniker The Death Star because I can be a tad ruthless with prose. Today I hope to teach you guys to be a bit ruthless as well. Before we get started, I do have a quick favor to ask. Some of you may know that I practice Brazilian Jiu Jitsu so I’ve taken on our dojo’s blog to see if we can try out new and fun content and am using the moniker Dojo Diva.

I posted about how hard it is to begin and the fears that can ever keep us from starting. The way others try to stop us from doing anything remarkable. I’d love to hear your thoughts and stories, so I hope you will stop by and get the discussion going.

Click the word “Comments” and a box should appear…

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Free Fiction Friday #42

Hello ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Free Fiction Friday #42! For those of you who are new to this blog or who may have missed out on the previous Free Fiction Fridays: every Friday (okay, almost every Friday—I try), I post an article containing 10 fiction e-books that are 100% FREE on Amazon at the time of posting and an additional 5 that are roughly of the same genre and on sale for less than $5. I try my best to make sure they are all 4+ stars with over 40+ reviews and 100 pages minimum if I can (it isn’t always possible)—so that you can get a list of the best-of the best to choose from and enjoy over the long weekend (while I do more important things than post, like laundry.) I try to switch up the genres every week, and this week our theme is: Brand-Spanking-New! (aka: These all came out in the last 30 days, so pick up something new and give it a chance!) Enjoy!

THE FREE

fff-nine linefff-trust and believefff-the fourth angelfff-defianceboxsetfff-princessfff-godsandmortalsboxsetfff-lucky in love box setfff-craving her curvesfff-blissful kissesfff-secrets and surrender

THE BARGAINS

bargain-saving dancerbargain-secret of athe painted ladybargain-where one goesbargain-sweet hopebargain-consolation

HOW To Finish Your Damn Book

Originally posted on CATHERINE RYAN HOWARD:

At the beginning of this year I wrote a post for that treasure trove of writing and publishing information, Writing.ie, about why you should finish your damn book. You can read that post here. It proved really popular. So popular that it seems to me like a lot of you are in the same place I was until last summer: wanting nothing more than to have finished your book, but finding yourself doing everything but writing it.

It’s all well and good for me to tell you why you should finish your book (nutshell: a finished book is the one thing everyone who ever got published/successfully self-published has in common) but how do you do it? How do you overcome procrastination? How do you finish your damn book?

I only know what worked for me, but maybe you’ll find something in there that works for you. Let’s see…

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Book Review: From What I Remember

cover-review-from what I rememberTitle: From What I Remember…

Author: Stacy Kramer & Valerie Thomas

Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Romance, Adventure

Rating: 5 (4.5 Stars)

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Description/Synopsis:

KYLIE: MEXICO? What a nightmare! I should be putting the finishing touches on my valedictorian speech. Graduation is TODAY! Wait! Is this a wedding band on my finger??

MAX: It started with Kylie’s laptop and a truck full of stolen electronics, and it ended in Ensenada. It was hot, the way she broke us out like some chick in an action movie. But now we’re stranded here, with less than twenty-four hours before graduation.

WILL: Saving Kylie Flores from herself is kind of a full-time occupation. Luckily, I, Will Bixby, was born for the job. And when I found out she was struck in Mexico with dreamy Max Langston, sure, I agreed to bring their passports across the border. But there’s no reason to rush back home right away—this party is just getting started!

LILY: This CANNOT be happening. It’s like some cruel joke. Or a bad dream. I close my eyes, and when I reopen them, they’re still there. Max and Kylie Flores, freak of the century. In bed together. If Kylie thinks I’m giving him up without a fight, she’s dead wrong.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I loved this book, and I’m going to give it the benefit of the doubt. Even though the rating was more of a 4.5 for me, I’m going to go ahead and mark it up to a full 5 stars. From What I Remember by Stacy Kramer and Valerie Thomas is at its heart, a good old-fashioned road trip adventure. It’s about a tenuously connected group of teens that get sucked into the road trip of a lifetime and the ensuing chaos as they try to make it back home in time for their high school graduation.  There are bar fights, late-night swims with dolphins, car chases, kidnapping, and a dubious group wedding on a dock in Ensanada—just to name a few hijinks.

The book was funny, quick-paced, and easy to read. I didn’t catch any glaring typos or awkward sentences. The characters (mostly) made sense (let’s face it, an angry teenage girl doesn’t always make great leaps of logic in times of crisis), and the dialog was believable. Though it was a long book by YA standards (a whopping 462 pages in my hardback copy), I felt sucked into the story from the very beginning, and finished the book in a matter of hours—taking only one much-needed break to sleep.

For the most part, I liked the characters—Max and Kylie especially. Okay, I’ll admit, I hated Lily. She’s just the type of person I can’t stand… manipulative, petty, and self-absorbed. I wasn’t a huge fan of Will either, despite his status as Kylie’s best friend. He was a little too “devil may care” for me. He stepped in a lot when he didn’t need to and made situations worse than they had to be. He was also extremely loyal to his best friend though, and I have to give him props for that.

The only major downfall of this book for me was the character of Jake. I get it… he’s sort of the token sibling with issues. He has Asperger’s, and while I appreciate the fact that he was added into the story for diversity’s sake… and it’s refreshing to see the world through a slightly different POV…he wasn’t an integral part of the story. His chapters had very little plot development and had he not been a part of the cast, the story would have faired just as well without him. Jake felt too much like filler in the long run.

That aside, I enjoyed the book. The characters weren’t exactly what I expected when I read the blurb from the characters printed on the inside of the dust jacket. I was expecting a lot of back-stabbing girl drama with some coming-of-age literary bits thrown in, and instead I got an adventure filled with laughter, love, and crazy events that spun wildly out of control in the best way possible.

I would highly recommend this book to any YA reader looking for a solid, fun, summer adventure story. The romance has a strong role to play in the drama, but it’s not the main focus of the story. This is really about a bunch of teens trying to figure out who they are and learning to let go of what high school and family expectations have molded them into. It’s going on my keeper shelf.

CALLING ALL ROMANCE AUTHORS!

Originally posted on Kobo Writing Life:

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Publishing giant Mills & Boon, high-street bookseller WHSmith, online eBook retailer Kobo along with the self-publishing platform Kobo Writing Life have partnered up to the end of offering  the Romance Writing Life competition.

The winning novelist will be awarded the grand prize of a publishing contract with  Mills & Boon, including both print and digital release. The book will be jointly promoted by Kobo, Mills & Boon and WHSmith.

Second and third prize winners will be awarded the brand new Kobo Glo HD.

Authors will submit a synopsis and first chapter of their romance novel, up to a maximum of 5,500 words, which will be reviewed by a judging panel.

Romance Writing Life was created in the hopes of discovering talented new writers of Romance. The winning title might be an unpublished gem just completed by the author a week before…

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Book Review: I’ll Meet You There

95002717Title: I’ll Meet You There

Author: Heather Demetrios

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Rating: 5 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

If Skylar Evans were a typical Creek View girl, her future would involve a double-wide trailer, a baby, and the graveyard shift at Taco Bell. But after graduation, the only thing separating Skylar from art school is three months of summer… until Skylar’s mother loses her job, and Skylar realizes her dreams may be slipping out of reach.

Josh had a different escape route: the Marines. But after losing his leg in Afghanistan, he returned home, a shell of the cocksure boy he used to be.

What brings Skylar and Josh together is working at the Paradise—a quirky motel off California’s Highway 99. Despite their differences, their shared isolation turns into a friendship and, soon, something deeper.

Compelling and ultimately hopeful, this is a powerful examination of love, loss, and resilience.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

I enjoyed I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios a lot more than I initially thought I would. Though I’m an avid YA reader, and even more so, a Romance reader, this book wasn’t what I’d usually pick up. The synopsis sounded vaguely interesting to me, but to be honest… I grew up in a small town with rinky-dink trailer parks. I grew up in the poor neighborhoods where clubhouses were built in abandoned lots where addicts occasionally hung out. I was that small town girl who worked at a fast food restaurant because there were no other jobs available in a town most people had never even heard of. Revisiting those small-town memories isn’t high on my to-do-list.

Almost on a whim, I picked up this book, and I’m so glad I did. Forget the genre’s… because if you see that it’s labeled YA, Contemporary, Romance… you’re going to get the wrong idea. This book is so much more than that.

I’ll Meet You There is the story of two teens, barely on their way into adulthood. Skylar is the small town girl that sees her hometown through jaded eyes. She wants out in the worst way possible, but she’s scared to leave her neurotic mother and her close friends behind. Josh is a boy who was once the life of the party… the jock that every girl wanted and every guy wished he could be… and then the war happened. He comes home an amputee and doesn’t know what to do with himself now that he’s home. This story is the narrative of their friendship and eventual romance as they rediscover who they are and re-evaluate what they thought they knew about their lives.

The narrative was exceptionally well written. I had an ARC (sent to me directly by the publishers) and there were a few typos, but nothing that stuck out too much. The writing was clear, easy to follow, and engaging. The story is told from two points of view: Skylar’s POV which is the main thread of the story, and smaller interjections of Josh’s POV which  consists mainly of military service flashbacks and diary-esque moments when he’s addressing his dead war buddy, trying to figure out his life.

The story is gripping and real. Though there’s some of the usual teen hijinks where relationships get complicated and often go bad, you won’t find a lot of melodramatic teen angst that’s present just for the purpose of providing drama. I got sucked into the story right away, and by the end I was cheering on the characters. I felt their pain, and I was desperately hoping that everything would turn out all right.

Now if you’re looking into buying this book for your Teen, be aware that there is mention of sex and violence—a few times. The story doesn’t give a blow-by-blow account of anything, but there are certainly some moments that aren’t going to be appropriate for young teens. This is definitely geared more towards the 16-20 crowd. That being said… it’s a conversation starter. The characters deal with issues like infidelity, teen motherhood, disabilities, alcohol use, PTSD, and disabilities. There are some pretty heavy topics—but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

I’d certainly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a solid, well-written YA Romance. This isn’t one of those books that relies on insta-lust to pull the romance through—this is honest, sometimes less than perfect love despite adversity, and it’s going on my keeper shelf.

Free Fiction Friday #41

Hello ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Free Fiction Friday #41! For those of you who are new to this blog or who may have missed out on the previous Free Fiction Fridays: every Friday (okay, almost every Friday—I try), I post an article containing 10 fiction e-books that are 100% FREE on Amazon at the time of posting and an addition 5 that are roughly of the same genre and on sale for less than $5. I try to my best to make sure they are all 4+ Stars with over 40+ Reviews and 100 pages minimum if I can (it isn’t always possible)—so that you can get a list of the best-of-the-best to choose from and enjoy over the long weekend (while I do more important things than post, like laundry.) I try to switch up the genres every week, and this week our theme is: Contemporary Romance! Enjoy!

THE FREE

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THE BARGAINS

bargain-not alonebargain-beginningsbargain-marigny streetbargain-the falling of lovebargain-ruining angel