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Monday, February 21, 2011

Monday Musings: Writer's Block

When I first started writing seriously I had an endless flow of ideas and I wrote them all down as quickly as possible, scoffing at writer’s block.  But now I’ve noticed with the more I’ve learned the harder it is to actually write.   I’ve still got the ideas, but it’s more difficult to get them down on paper. 

I’m pretty sure it’s because I’m constantly trying to outdo myself.  Not to mention I’m finding it more and more laborious to turn off that internal editor, to just “write the damn story” and fix it in subsequent drafts.

I’ve found that the harder I struggle, the worse it gets, so I’ve to just let the muse take me where it wants to go, when it wants me to go, instead of striving to wrestle it into a bottle to sprinkle it out over the course of the year.

It may mean frantic days and nights of dirty dishes and laundry piling up as I write feverishly, but my best stuff seems to come from those frenzied hours.

However, it doesn’t stop the worried thoughts of never writing again, so I want to know…what do you do to counteract writer’s block?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Tip Thursday: Tips from the Masters


Writing Tips

1. Cut the boring parts
I try to leave out the parts that people skip. ~Elmore Leonard
In other words, write what your readers want to read. If it's boring, cut it.  That's why beta readers and CP are so important.  They'll let you know if it's boring.  If enough of them concur, then you might want to cut it.  

2. Eliminate unnecessary words
Substitute “damn” every time you’re inclined to write “very;” your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain
Very, really, et cetera are qualifiers that don't make your writing stronger, they make them weaker.  More often than not, you don't need them.

3. Write with passion
Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. ~William Wordsworth
This is actually one of my favorite quotes and I don't think needs any more explanation.  

4. Paint a picture
Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass. ~Anton Chekhov
A perfect example of show vs tell. And also a great imagery tool. 

5. Keep it simple
Vigorous writing is concise. ~William Strunk Jr.
This goes back to point one.  If it's concise, it's probably not boring, since it's not probably not long and drawn out.

6. Do it for love
Write without pay until somebody offers to pay. ~Mark Twain
Another favorite quote of mine.  Most writers couldn't stop writing if we wanted to, so I don't even think we should have this on the list.  ;)

7. Learn to thrive on criticism
You have to know how to accept rejection and reject acceptance. ~Ray Bradbury
Writing feels like part of our soul by the time we're finished with it. So rejection can be hard and acceptance can sometimes be even harder. We just have to remember that our writing is not ourselves.

8. Write all the time

Quantity produces quality. If you only write a few things, you’re doomed. ~Ray Bradbury
The way you define yourself as a writer is that you write every time you have a free minute. If you didn’t behave that way you would never do anything. ~John Irving
Need I say more?
9. Write what you know … or what you want to know
If any man wish to write in a clear style, let him be first clear in his thoughts; and if any would write in a noble style, let him first possess a noble soul. ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Learn as much by writing as by reading. ~Lord Acton
When a reader starts a book they want to be able to trust the author to tell a good story.  If they can't trust you, they won't read.  So make sure to get the simple things correct.  :D

10. Be unique and unpredictable
I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite. ~G.K. Chesterton
Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative. ~Oscar Wilde
Zest. Gusto. How rarely one hears these words used. How rarely do we see people living, or for that matter, creating by them. Yet if I were asked to name the most important items in a writer’s make-up, the things that shape his material and rush him along the road to where he wants to go, I could only warn him to look to his zest, see to his gusto. ~Ray Bradbury
List assembled by

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Writer's Wednesday: Book Review-Nightshade

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
Publisher: Philomel (October 19, 2010)
Paperback: 528 pages
Reading Level: Young Adult
Rating: 5 of 5 feathers
Source: Purchased
While other teenage girls daydream about boys, Calla Tor imagines ripping out her enemies’ throats. And she wouldn’t have it any other way. Calla was born a warrior and on her eighteenth-birthday she’ll become the alpha female of the next generation of Guardian wolves. But Calla’s predestined path veers off course the moment she saves the life of a wayward hiker, a boy her own age. This human boy’s secret will turn the young pack's world upside down and forever alter the outcome of the centuries-old Witches' War that surrounds them all.

REVIEW:   This is another book I bought simply because of the cover. Honestly, I was over werewolves at this point, and I was pretty sure the only werewolf stories I wanted to read were the sequels to books I’d already read.  However, I couldn’t resist having such a beautiful cover on my bookshelf (yes, I know. I’m shallow.  J )  Anyway, since I bought it, I decided to give it a go.  And I couldn’t put it down.  I actually read it in one sitting, pretty much.  Minus the obligatory self-care times.  ; ) 
It started off with a bang and didn’t let up until it was over and had me begging for the next book!  Every one knows, I love me a good love triangle and Andrea did a great job with this one.  I’d compare it to the one in Personal Demons, except I know their crit. Partners so that’s probably why. LOL.  While I do know I prefer Shay over Ren, it was a close call.  They were just so hard to choose between.  Especially toward the end when Ren started showing his true feelings and not that of what was expected of him.
It starts off with the suspense of Calla (the MC) running into a hiker in the woods who is badly injured.  She’s in wolf form, so we aren’t sure what she’s going to do.  Kill the hiker boy?  Or save him.  Since it’s already stated in the blurb what happens, I’ll say she saves him, and, in turn, shows him what she really is.  She thinks it’ll end there, until he shows up at her school the next school day and is determined to get to know her better.
There was a great romantical element of the book and the characters couldn’t keep their hands off each other.  While I do like those kinds of things, they have to be done well to be enjoyable.  Most YA books steer clear of this, but not here and Andrea does an excellent job of showing it without overkilling it. 
The only negative I saw was that Calla was supposed to be the alpha female, completely in control of her pack, but she didn’t seem that alpha until the end.  She doesn’t know certain things about her brother and her best friend that I was sure she should have, being their alpha and all.  And while she does stand up to Ren a few times, it felt like it was only for show.  I understand that she was filled with indecision about certain things, but I felt I should see the alpha in other parts of her life and I didn’t really see it as much as I wanted (this is just a personal pref. BTW, others probably feel differently).
Otherwise, this is def. a must read for anyone, even those who don’t normally read the paranormal genre, but love a good romance.  Though I will say, that if you don’t normally like romances, this probably isn’t the read for you.  There is a LOT of it in here.  And while I don’t think it took away from the book, I love me a good romance.

Characters: All of the characters were strongly developed and I enjoyed them very much.  We’ll start with Calla, since she’s the MC.  She had a lot of great qualities.  She was strong, sweet, relatable and had a heart of gold. Shay was just awesome.  Honestly I couldn’t find a single fault in him, though if I re-read it a few time, I probably could if I looked hard enough. LOL.  And Ren?  He was the perfect flawed alpha male.  Loved every bit of him, too, even if I wanted to strangle him a few times.  Like in the dance club.  WTH was that Ren?  :D

Cover: As I mentioned before this was the reason I purchased this book. It’s perfect and beautiful. Stunning really.  With the frosted purple look and the girl that fits Calla perfectly. Plus the obviousness of the Calla lilies (my favorite flower, in case you were interested.), and the blood drops in them.  Absolutely perfect!
Honestly, this was probably in my top ten books I read in 2010.  I cannot rave about this book enough.  So just go out and buy it, will ya?  LOL. You won’t be disappointed.

Find Andrea Cremer

Purchase Bad Girls Don't Die

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Teaser Tuesday:

Just like before, here's an excerpt from one of my newest favorite books.  Since it's Valentine week, I've picked a section that is a little hot and heavy, and most def. swoon worthy.  At least, in my opinion. So I don't give away which book this is from, I've gotten rid of all names and replaced them with pronouns.  It won't detract from the scene.  Promise. ; )

The kiss started slowly, a sweet, tentative searching.  The soft touch of his mouth mesmerized me.  I parted my lips for his, letting desire draw me down. 

[His] kiss deepened; his hand ran along my back, tracing the length of my braid, sliding beneath my shirt to stroke my skin.  I felt like I was drinking sunlight.  My fingers moved from his chest to his neck and stroked the line of his jaw.  I pressed into him, wanting to know more of the mysteries he pulled so easily from my body.  More of this freedom, this wildness.

[He] grabbed my hips and in a swift motion turned us, pinning me to the floor.  His hands moved beneath my shirt, his body pressing hard against mine.  I could smell his rising desire mixing with my own, our feverish need infusing the air like lightning about to strike.  Instead of being pulled down into him, I was rising up, legs wrapping around him.  His fingers moved carefully, tracing my curves, lingering in places tht stole my breath, binding me to him and yet setting me free.  My own gasp of pleasure against his mouth brought the world hurtling back. 

The room spun as I pulled out of his embrace, stumbling toward the table.  My heart rammed against my ribs, insistent and painful. 

I can't do this, I can't.  But I wanted to.  More than anything.

So...what did you think?  :D  Also, can you guess what book this is from?  Stay tuned tomorrow for the answer. Along with a review of the book.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentines Day and 250 Follower Contest

This contest is now closed.  Please stayed tuned for the winners announcement.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!  I hope everyone has someone special to share this day with, even if you don’t celebrate it (DH and I don’t.  LOL But our anniversary is three days from now, so no need.)  Anyway, today is also my contest for reaching 250 followers. 


1st Across The Universe by Beth Revis
      Bad Girls Don’t Die by Katie Alender
      Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers
      Bonus for writers: 50 page MS + Query critique

2nd Matched by Ally Condie
       Beastly (your choice of covers, original or movie tie-in) by Alex Flinn
       Bonus for writers: 25 page critique

3rd Gone by Michael Grant
      Bonus for writers: 10 page critique

Prizes will escalate for every 50 followers I get for this contest so make sure to spread the word.

Rules:  You MUST be a follower of my blog to enter and you’ll need to fill out the Google form.  Otherwise, that’s it.  Open internationally.  Contest ends March 1, 2011.

Extra Entries!

  • +5 Old Blog Follower {Follow Publicly}
  •  +4 New Blog Follower {Follow Publicly}
  •  +5 Networked Blogs Follower
  •  +3 Follow me on Twitter (@jasouders)
  •  +2 “Like” me on Facebook
  •  +1 tweeting about it (1 entry per day until the contest ends) (please place direct link in comments section or @ me in the tweet.)
  • +1 Blogging about it (link to it in the comments section.)

Good luck!  And happy reading!


Friday, February 11, 2011

That's YAmore Blogfest

Better late than never, right?  My mind's been a bit out of it this week, but here's my contribution to the "That's YAmore blogfest" put on by my sister blog Oasis for YA.  Please go check out the list to get your fill of the rest of the swoon worthy excerpts.

Though I am cheating a bit.  This particular scene is from my finished work THE EXILED as I don't currently have a WIP that's to the point that I have a swoon-worthy scene.  ; D.

He kissed his way up to my throat and my breath caught when instead of continuing up toward my mouth like I’d expected, he pushed my shirt up so it just barely covered my breasts and kissed down my stomach to the waistband of my jeans.
Then he moved so he kneeled over me. His legs straddled mine.  He brought his lips back to just below my ear.  My breath hitched again as my heart pounded like a jackhammer. 
I twisted my neck to provide him better access, brought my hands to his waist and drug my hands up his chest under his shirt, feeling each quiver of muscle.
Slowly, almost painfully slow, he pressed himself to me and for the first time I knew what it was to have a man’s weight on me.
It was marvelous and I wanted more.  I tugged on his shirt so I could pull it over his head. The minute he was free he pressed back down on me. His bare stomach pressed against mine. 
Butterflies thrashed themselves stupid in my stomach, and I shook with nerves, but I wanted more.  I’d never wanted anything more than I wanted him right then.  Desire was so thick between us it wouldn’t have surprised me to see it.
Then just when I thought I couldn’t handle any more stimulation from his mouth on my skin he pressed it against mine.
My eyes flew open and then fluttered closed as I tasted him.  His flavor was even sweeter than ambrosia.  His scent, mixed with that of the grass and flowers, clouded my mind.  My hands were everywhere until he finally trapped them in his and held them above my head.

Funny Friday: Jokes and Quotes


Funny Convention

At a convention of biological scientists, Hannah, a researcher remarks to Pam, 'Did you know that in our lab we have switched from mice to lawyers for our experiments?'
'Really?' Pam replies, 'Why did you switch?'
'Well, for two reasons. First we found that lawyers are far more plentiful, and second, the lab assistants don't get so attached to them,' chortled Hannah.

A Friday Funny Story

Roger left for work on Friday morning.  Friday was payday, so instead of going home, he stayed out the entire weekend partying with the boys and spending his entire pay packet.
Finally, Roger appeared at home on Sunday night, and obviously he was confronted by his angry wife, Martha who castigated Roger for nearly two hours with a tirade befitting his actions.  Finally, Martha stopped the nagging and said to Roger, 'How would you like it if you didn't see me for two or three days?'
Roger replied grimly, 'That would be fine with me.'
Monday went by and he didn't see his Martha. Tuesday and Wednesday came and went with the same results.
By the Thursday, the swelling had gone down just enough so that Roger he could see Martha a little out of the corner of his left eye

Droll Traffic Cop

A traffic policeman stops a Maisie and asks to see her driving licence.
'Lady, it says here that you should be wearing glasses when driving.'
'Well,' replies Maisie, 'I have contacts.'
'Lady, I don't care who you know, you're still going to get a ticket.'

Amusing Examination 

Father: Son, what are your results in the end of term examination?
Son: Underwater.
Father: What do you mean, underwater?
Son: Below "C" level.

Quirky Doctor

Doctor, doctor, I feel like a 10 Dollar note. Well go and buy something then, the change will do you good.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Funny Friday: Jokes and quotes


Signs - Classic Short Joke


Wise Words

'If your attack is going too well, you're walking into an ambush.'
- Infantry Journal

Keep to the straight and narrow

If you're being chased by a police dog, try not to go through a tunnel, then on to a little seesaw, then jump through a hoop of fire. they're trained for that.
These are real requests fielded by an American travel agent.

Confessions of US Congress Travel Agent

Bad Hair Day?A New Hampshire Congresswoman asked me to book her an aisle seat on the airplane.  She did not want her hair to get messed up by being near the window.

Murphy's Law of DIY (Do-It-Yourself )

Any project will require at least two journeys to the hardware shop.
If you need more than one item (pair, four, etc) the probability that one will be damaged or the wrong colour is directly proportional to the desire or need of the object.
You always need more paint.
You never have enough nails, screws or glue.
The likelihood that you will complete a weekend project before the end of the weekend decreases with when you actually start the project.
Therefore: Any plumbing project started after 4pm on Sunday will require an emergency call to the plumber to get the water running again.
To estimate the amount of time needed to complete a project: estimate the amount of time needed, multiply by two and use the next highest unit. Hence: A one hour task will take at least two days to complete.

Silly Friday Chant

1 Tequila
2 Tequila
3 Tequila

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Tip Thursday: Which vs that

I've been doing lots of crits lately and the most common thing I noticed was the misuse of which and that.  Besides the whole telling vs showing thing that's common is most manuscripts.  So here's the quick and dirty and below that will be links to more in depth help with which vs that.

Basically the choice between "that" and "which" is not a choice between formal and informal as most people see it.  I most usually see "that" used instead of "which" because people feel it sounds too formal.  That's not the case.  "Which" is a non-defining relative pronoun. While "that" is a defining relative pronoun.  Which basically means "that" introduces couses that identify a person or a thing.  (e.g. "He had to choose between the ten girls that had been chosen for him.") While "which" is used to give a reason or add a new fact (e.g., "I always buy his books, which have influenced me greatly.").  However, be careful, when used as a pronoun "which" must have a clear antecedent--a word, phrase, clause, or sentence to which another word refers (e.g. There was a conference in Vienna, which ended on December 13th.)

Fairly simple, right?  If not, please glance through the following links.  

Grammar Girl

Kentworth University

Grammar Quizzes (worksheet to test your skills)

World Wide words

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Writer's Wednesday: Book Review: Beastly

Beastly by Alex Flinn
Publisher: Harper Teen (October 6, 2009 rev edition)
Paperback: 336 pages
Reading Level: Young Adult
Rating: 5 of 5 feathers
Source: Purchased

I am a beast. A beast. Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog, but a horrible new creature who walks upright – a creature with fangs and claws and hair springing from every pore. I am a monster.

You think I’m talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It’s no deformity, no disease. And I’ll stay this way forever – ruined – unless I can break the spell.

Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and a perfect life. And then, I’ll tell you how I became perfectly beastly.

REVIEW: A beautiful, intriguing, and interesting rendition of Beauty and the Beast. Most people know I love fairy tales. And Beauty and the Beast has always been one of my favorites, so when my friend forced her copy of Beastly on me, I was surprised I hadn’t seen this book before. I started reading it immediately. At first I hated the MC Kyle. He was exactly the kind of boy I hated in H.S. I honestly had to force myself to keep reading because I disliked him that much. But, as we all do, I knew where the story was going and I knew he’d change and I’d like him. Or at least I hoped I would. And I did. By the end of the story, I was absolutely in love with him.

This is one of the reasons for the five-feather rating. To make me hate a character so much and then do a complete turn around to say that I felt sorry for him and loved him, means Alex did a spectacular job of characterization.

It was really great, also, how Alex used an IM support group to bring in other fairy tales and tell their story.

I also like how she explained why Beast was left all alone to molder away in some abandoned “castle.” While it made me angry that was the reason, it also made complete sense.

She also incorporated several of my favorite things from the Disney version. The enchanted rose, magic mirror, and, of course, the heroine’s love of books.

Honestly, I have nothing but gushings for this particular book. I couldn’t think of something I didn’t like if I tried, and I have. It was the perfect combination of fairy tale meets modern world.

Characters: Kyle is perfectly abominable in the beginning. Like I already said, I hated him. He really thought he was God’s gift to the world, and I was sickly happy that I knew what was coming. LOL. I can’t describe any of the others w/o giving away spoilers, so I’ll just say that they were all as well drawn as Kyle was.

Cover: I like it. I’m not absolutely in love with it, but it’s simple and shows an important part of the story, so I know why they used it.

This is a great book for both lovers of fairy tales and those sick of the overly sweet Disney versions. It even has great boy appeal, and not just because a boy is the narrator, but because of Kyle himself. I think a lot of boys would be able to see themselves as Kyle. In fact, I’m thinking of handing this over to my son to read, when I can force myself to give it up. : ) It really is a perfect blend of classic fairy tale and the modern world, and is a great addition to any one’s library.

Find Alex Flinn
Alex Flinn / Blog Facebook

Purchase Beastly

Amazon / Barnes & Noble / The Book Depository

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Teaser Tuesday

Well, since agent Jennifer Laughran's wonderful post last week, I've taken off all my teasers and snippets from my blog regarding my current story. 

So, instead, I've decided to post a teaser of the book I'm going to review on Wednesday.  Nothing long and nothing with spoilers. I think I'm even going to hold a contest or two for people who can guess what the teaser is from before I post the review.  Just not today.  LOL.  But I'd still love to hear your guesses and what you think about that teaser.  It's also a good excersice for writers.  Because you can tell me why it did or didn't make you want to read more.

So, without further adieu, today's teaser:

I could feel everyone looking at me, but I was used to it.  One thing my dad taught me early and often was to act like nothing moved me. When you're special, like we were, people were bound to notice.

So...can you guess what book this comes from?  And, even if you can't, would you have kept reading?  Why? Or why not?