Thursday, June 27, 2013

Hi Friends! I am still in the UK, so I've asked the multi-talented Jessica Bell to swing by and talk about her latest writing resource book. I think it's so wonderfully helpful I wrote the endorsement for back cover! Onto our guest post...

by Jessica Bell

Writers constantly have rules thrown at them left, right, and center. Show, don’t tell! Stop using so many dialogue tags! More sensory detail! More tension! Speed up the pace! Yada yada yada ... it can become overwhelming, yes? I used to feel overwhelmed by it all too. In fact, I still do sometimes. It’s hard enough to get the words on the page, let alone consider how to put them there.

In Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, she says that in order not to be overwhelmed, a writer needs to focus on short assignments. She refers to the one-inch picture frame on her desk and how that little picture frame reminds her to focus on bite-sized pieces of the whole story. Basically, if you focus on one small thing at a time, the story will eventually come together to create a whole. I believe the same applies to learning the craft of writing. If writers focus on one aspect of the craft at a time, the process will seem less daunting and piece by piece it will come together.

My name’s Jessica Bell, and my own struggles with feeling overwhelmed inspired me to write the Writing in a Nutshell Series of pocket-sized writing guides. So you can learn to hone your craft in bite-sized, manageable pieces. In the first book of the series, I focused on demonstrating how to transition “telling” into “showing.” In Adverbs and Clichés in a Nutshell: Demonstrated Subversions of Adverbs and Clichés into Gourmet Imagery, I deal with another of the most common criticisms aspiring writers face: to absolutely avoid adverbs and clichés like the plague. But see, right now, I just used one of each. I also used a couple in the first two paragraphs of this post because they come naturally, and we utilize them frequently in everyday speech. But in fiction, too many adverbs and clichés weaken your prose. It’s considered “lazy writing,” because it means we don’t have to show what’s happening.

If your manuscript has too many adverbs and clichés, it most likely means that the emotion you felt while writing it is not going to translate to the reader in the same way. So how exactly can we approach the subversion of adverbs and clichés? For starters, play around with simile and metaphor when you’re trying to convey emotion, and for action, use strong verbs to show it happening in real time.

The key? Think smaller details rather than the bigger picture.

Need some help and inspiration?

In Adverbs and Clichés in a Nutshell: Demonstrated Subversions of Adverbs and Clichés into Gourmet Imagery, you will find thirty-four examples of prose which clearly demonstrate how to turn those pesky adverbs and clichés into vivid and unique imagery. Dispersed throughout are blank pages to craft your own unique examples. Extra writing prompts are also provided at the back of the book.

“Jessica Bell's latest pocket guide, Adverbs and Clichés in a Nutshell, will inspire you to leave bland behind and pursue your creative best. With force and clarity, she demonstrates how adverbs and clichés hobble vibrant writing. She then marks a course toward unique expression and provides workouts that will help writers at every level develop a distinctive voice.”  ~Laurel Garver, freelance editor, author of Never Gone and Muddy-Fingered Midnights

Purchase links:
Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon Ca | Kobo


Bio: The Australian-native contemporary fiction author and poet, Jessica Bell, also makes a living as an editor and writer for global ELT publishers (English Language Teaching), such as Pearson Education, HarperCollins, Macmillan Education, Education First and Cengage Learning.

She is the co-publishing editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and the director of the Homeric Writers’ Retreat and Workshop on the Greek island of Ithaca.

For more information about Jessica please visit:
Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook

Thursday, June 27, 2013 Laurel Garver
Hi Friends! I am still in the UK, so I've asked the multi-talented Jessica Bell to swing by and talk about her latest writing resource book. I think it's so wonderfully helpful I wrote the endorsement for back cover! Onto our guest post...

by Jessica Bell

Writers constantly have rules thrown at them left, right, and center. Show, don’t tell! Stop using so many dialogue tags! More sensory detail! More tension! Speed up the pace! Yada yada yada ... it can become overwhelming, yes? I used to feel overwhelmed by it all too. In fact, I still do sometimes. It’s hard enough to get the words on the page, let alone consider how to put them there.

In Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, she says that in order not to be overwhelmed, a writer needs to focus on short assignments. She refers to the one-inch picture frame on her desk and how that little picture frame reminds her to focus on bite-sized pieces of the whole story. Basically, if you focus on one small thing at a time, the story will eventually come together to create a whole. I believe the same applies to learning the craft of writing. If writers focus on one aspect of the craft at a time, the process will seem less daunting and piece by piece it will come together.

My name’s Jessica Bell, and my own struggles with feeling overwhelmed inspired me to write the Writing in a Nutshell Series of pocket-sized writing guides. So you can learn to hone your craft in bite-sized, manageable pieces. In the first book of the series, I focused on demonstrating how to transition “telling” into “showing.” In Adverbs and Clichés in a Nutshell: Demonstrated Subversions of Adverbs and Clichés into Gourmet Imagery, I deal with another of the most common criticisms aspiring writers face: to absolutely avoid adverbs and clichés like the plague. But see, right now, I just used one of each. I also used a couple in the first two paragraphs of this post because they come naturally, and we utilize them frequently in everyday speech. But in fiction, too many adverbs and clichés weaken your prose. It’s considered “lazy writing,” because it means we don’t have to show what’s happening.

If your manuscript has too many adverbs and clichés, it most likely means that the emotion you felt while writing it is not going to translate to the reader in the same way. So how exactly can we approach the subversion of adverbs and clichés? For starters, play around with simile and metaphor when you’re trying to convey emotion, and for action, use strong verbs to show it happening in real time.

The key? Think smaller details rather than the bigger picture.

Need some help and inspiration?

In Adverbs and Clichés in a Nutshell: Demonstrated Subversions of Adverbs and Clichés into Gourmet Imagery, you will find thirty-four examples of prose which clearly demonstrate how to turn those pesky adverbs and clichés into vivid and unique imagery. Dispersed throughout are blank pages to craft your own unique examples. Extra writing prompts are also provided at the back of the book.

“Jessica Bell's latest pocket guide, Adverbs and Clichés in a Nutshell, will inspire you to leave bland behind and pursue your creative best. With force and clarity, she demonstrates how adverbs and clichés hobble vibrant writing. She then marks a course toward unique expression and provides workouts that will help writers at every level develop a distinctive voice.”  ~Laurel Garver, freelance editor, author of Never Gone and Muddy-Fingered Midnights

Purchase links:
Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon Ca | Kobo


Bio: The Australian-native contemporary fiction author and poet, Jessica Bell, also makes a living as an editor and writer for global ELT publishers (English Language Teaching), such as Pearson Education, HarperCollins, Macmillan Education, Education First and Cengage Learning.

She is the co-publishing editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and the director of the Homeric Writers’ Retreat and Workshop on the Greek island of Ithaca.

For more information about Jessica please visit:
Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook

Monday, June 24, 2013

Let's have a big Laurel's Leaves welcome for today's guest Catherine Stine! Take it away, Catherine....


Whether your world is set on a future earth, in a spaceship speeding to a ringed planet, or in an alternate medieval high fantasy with fantastic magic, it must have an internal logic that satisfies readers. Magic needs rules and constraints, a techie world must have gadgets that match the level of society, and aliens must speak a language that makes organic sense in their environment. A military guy in an advanced world wouldn’t use a prehistoric club to bash his enemy’s skull in. In a post-apocalyptic world where the lights have gone out, people can’t have access to iPhones or even flashlights.

It’s invaluable to create a “bible” of setting elements and characters that you can refer to so that your world details remain consistent. Things to consider are: the type of government that’s in place, cultural preferences, the state of science and medicine, fashion, food, and even etiquette. Is the society repressive or liberal? What happens to those who break the law? Is there any law at all, or is there a wild anarchy? You can have endless fun imagining various combinations of these elements and playing out the “what ifs” before committing to any one system.

My new YA sci-fi, Ruby’s Fire explores the time period past a dystopia. You could call it a post-post apocalyptic era, where the world is slowly regenerating. I wasn’t interested in a novel only about a repressive government, or young adults in the midst of fighting a horrific border war. I wanted to explore what happens after that, when things take a turn for the better, when the toxic air is finally clearing a bit, when there are underground caves growing much-needed crops. I was interested in studying the people who were traumatized. When things get better do they relax? Start to share more? Or have they been so hardened by their struggles that they’re permanently scarred? 

My main character, Ruby, who has escaped a dangerous desert cult, is ashamed when she finds herself falling for Blane, a boy with a terrible past, who’s the resident bodyguard at the boarding school she lands in. She worries that she’s attracted to someone as edgy and violent as the people she left behind. Or is there more to Blane, she wonders?

Many of the sectors on this changed earth are still struggling, but one in particular—Vegas-by-the-Sea—is becoming a boomtown and regaining much of the technology, lost in the disastrous border wars. The colorful George Axiom, a sharp dresser and entrepreneur governs it. His giddy enthusiasm for rebuilding takes him into shady territory when he offers to hold a student contest for big money.

That perilous balance between healing, and falling back into destruction fascinates me, and what kinds of things might disrupt that shaky equilibrium. Thus, character creation also becomes a world-building exercise.

That’s what I love about speculative fiction! I can make up entire worlds, whether spun out of highly likely terrestrial scenarios, or with fantastic alien two-headed beings that will never exist in reality. 

Well… never say never!

About the Author

Catherine Stine writes YA, New Adult and middle grade fiction. Her YA futuristic thriller, Fireseed One, illustrated by the author won finalist spots in both YA and Science Fiction in the 2013 USA Book News International Book Awards. It was also granted a 2013 Bronze Wishing Shelf Book Award and a 2013 Indie Reader Approved notable stamp. Her YA Refugees, earned a New York Public Library Best Book. Middle grade novels include A Girl’s Best Friend. 

Fireseed One sequel, Ruby’s Fire is earning advance praise from reviewers and authors:
“Ruby's Fire, returns to the sun-scorched earth of Fireseed One. In this long-awaited sequel, Stine delivers a thrilling adventure led by a new and exciting cast of characters. Ruby, Armonk, Thorn and Blane are memorable, and the romance is really well handled. Favorite quote: " It feels wrong to lean on Armonk right now with Blane staring at me, a hungry, lonely look in his eye. It’s as if he’s never been hugged, never been fed, never been loved..." ”  -YAs the Word

More and more, Catherine enjoys writing speculative tales where her imagination has wild and free rein. She has taught creative writing workshops at the Philadelphia Writing Conference, Missouri University Summer Abroad, The New School and in her own ongoing NYC writing workshop. She loves her readers, and enjoys blogging.


About Ruby's Fire

If everything about you changes, what remains?

Seventeen year-old Ruby, long-pledged to the much older Stiles from the Fireseed desert cult, escapes with only a change of clothes, a pouch of Oblivion Powder and her mute little brother, Thorn. Arriving at The Greening, a boarding school for orphaned teens, she can finally stop running. Or can she? The Greening is not what it seems. Students are rampaging out of control and as she cares for the secret Fireseed crop, she experiences frightening physical changes. She’s ashamed of her attraction to burly, hard-talking Blane, the resident bodyguard, and wonders why she can’t be happy with the gentler Armonk. She’s long considered her great beauty a liability, a thing she’s misused in order to survive. And how is she to stop her dependence on Oblivion to find a real beauty within, using her talent as a maker of salves, when she has nightmares of Stiles without it?

When George Axiom, wealthy mogul of Vegas-by-the-Sea offers a huge cash prize for the winner of a student contest, Ruby is hopeful she might collect the prize to rescue her family and friends from what she now knows is a dangerous cult. But when Stiles comes to reclaim her, and Thorn sickens after creating the most astonishing contest project of all, the world Ruby knows is changed forever. This romantic fantasy set in 2099 on earth has a crafty heroine in Ruby, and a swoonworthy cast, which will surely appeal to the YA and new adult audience.


How do you keep your story world consistent? Do you keep a "bible" for your fictional world?
Monday, June 24, 2013 Laurel Garver
Let's have a big Laurel's Leaves welcome for today's guest Catherine Stine! Take it away, Catherine....


Whether your world is set on a future earth, in a spaceship speeding to a ringed planet, or in an alternate medieval high fantasy with fantastic magic, it must have an internal logic that satisfies readers. Magic needs rules and constraints, a techie world must have gadgets that match the level of society, and aliens must speak a language that makes organic sense in their environment. A military guy in an advanced world wouldn’t use a prehistoric club to bash his enemy’s skull in. In a post-apocalyptic world where the lights have gone out, people can’t have access to iPhones or even flashlights.

It’s invaluable to create a “bible” of setting elements and characters that you can refer to so that your world details remain consistent. Things to consider are: the type of government that’s in place, cultural preferences, the state of science and medicine, fashion, food, and even etiquette. Is the society repressive or liberal? What happens to those who break the law? Is there any law at all, or is there a wild anarchy? You can have endless fun imagining various combinations of these elements and playing out the “what ifs” before committing to any one system.

My new YA sci-fi, Ruby’s Fire explores the time period past a dystopia. You could call it a post-post apocalyptic era, where the world is slowly regenerating. I wasn’t interested in a novel only about a repressive government, or young adults in the midst of fighting a horrific border war. I wanted to explore what happens after that, when things take a turn for the better, when the toxic air is finally clearing a bit, when there are underground caves growing much-needed crops. I was interested in studying the people who were traumatized. When things get better do they relax? Start to share more? Or have they been so hardened by their struggles that they’re permanently scarred? 

My main character, Ruby, who has escaped a dangerous desert cult, is ashamed when she finds herself falling for Blane, a boy with a terrible past, who’s the resident bodyguard at the boarding school she lands in. She worries that she’s attracted to someone as edgy and violent as the people she left behind. Or is there more to Blane, she wonders?

Many of the sectors on this changed earth are still struggling, but one in particular—Vegas-by-the-Sea—is becoming a boomtown and regaining much of the technology, lost in the disastrous border wars. The colorful George Axiom, a sharp dresser and entrepreneur governs it. His giddy enthusiasm for rebuilding takes him into shady territory when he offers to hold a student contest for big money.

That perilous balance between healing, and falling back into destruction fascinates me, and what kinds of things might disrupt that shaky equilibrium. Thus, character creation also becomes a world-building exercise.

That’s what I love about speculative fiction! I can make up entire worlds, whether spun out of highly likely terrestrial scenarios, or with fantastic alien two-headed beings that will never exist in reality. 

Well… never say never!

About the Author

Catherine Stine writes YA, New Adult and middle grade fiction. Her YA futuristic thriller, Fireseed One, illustrated by the author won finalist spots in both YA and Science Fiction in the 2013 USA Book News International Book Awards. It was also granted a 2013 Bronze Wishing Shelf Book Award and a 2013 Indie Reader Approved notable stamp. Her YA Refugees, earned a New York Public Library Best Book. Middle grade novels include A Girl’s Best Friend. 

Fireseed One sequel, Ruby’s Fire is earning advance praise from reviewers and authors:
“Ruby's Fire, returns to the sun-scorched earth of Fireseed One. In this long-awaited sequel, Stine delivers a thrilling adventure led by a new and exciting cast of characters. Ruby, Armonk, Thorn and Blane are memorable, and the romance is really well handled. Favorite quote: " It feels wrong to lean on Armonk right now with Blane staring at me, a hungry, lonely look in his eye. It’s as if he’s never been hugged, never been fed, never been loved..." ”  -YAs the Word

More and more, Catherine enjoys writing speculative tales where her imagination has wild and free rein. She has taught creative writing workshops at the Philadelphia Writing Conference, Missouri University Summer Abroad, The New School and in her own ongoing NYC writing workshop. She loves her readers, and enjoys blogging.


About Ruby's Fire

If everything about you changes, what remains?

Seventeen year-old Ruby, long-pledged to the much older Stiles from the Fireseed desert cult, escapes with only a change of clothes, a pouch of Oblivion Powder and her mute little brother, Thorn. Arriving at The Greening, a boarding school for orphaned teens, she can finally stop running. Or can she? The Greening is not what it seems. Students are rampaging out of control and as she cares for the secret Fireseed crop, she experiences frightening physical changes. She’s ashamed of her attraction to burly, hard-talking Blane, the resident bodyguard, and wonders why she can’t be happy with the gentler Armonk. She’s long considered her great beauty a liability, a thing she’s misused in order to survive. And how is she to stop her dependence on Oblivion to find a real beauty within, using her talent as a maker of salves, when she has nightmares of Stiles without it?

When George Axiom, wealthy mogul of Vegas-by-the-Sea offers a huge cash prize for the winner of a student contest, Ruby is hopeful she might collect the prize to rescue her family and friends from what she now knows is a dangerous cult. But when Stiles comes to reclaim her, and Thorn sickens after creating the most astonishing contest project of all, the world Ruby knows is changed forever. This romantic fantasy set in 2099 on earth has a crafty heroine in Ruby, and a swoonworthy cast, which will surely appeal to the YA and new adult audience.


How do you keep your story world consistent? Do you keep a "bible" for your fictional world?

Monday, June 17, 2013

I'm now in the UK for a few weeks, so I have some special treats for you--more fabulous guest posts! Today's guest is romance author Beth Fred. Take it away, Beth....


Find what you're bad at.

I bet that's a piece of writing advice you've never heard before, and I mean it. What is your biggest weakness? You need to know because it could be the one thing holding you back. I really really loved one of my first manuscripts, and the feedback was so positive. My CPs and betas swore they loved it too, and while I got rejection after overwhelming rejection they usually complimented the voice and the concept. Close. But no cigar. I knew something had to change, but I didn't know what. So when I started really listening to hidden criticism in the praise it came down to this: I had a convoluted plot. That made sense because I wasn't a plotter. But somehow there was still a story there, so I didn't understand how it could have a beginning, middle, and end, and still somehow not have a strong enough plot.

I knew this though. I want to be a bestseller. And I'll do what it takes to get there. More than that, I want to be a good writer, so if I find a chance to improve I'm going to jump on it. In the past, plotting for me hadn't worked. The words felt forced. I'm the kind of person that has a hard time deviating from something set in writing. And if it had a beginning, middle, and end anyhow, what was the point? Not knowing what else to do, I started breaking books into the seven points of the three-act structure. After a few weeks of doing this, I wrote The Fate of A Marlowe Girl. Two full requests of two queries, and it was on a second-round revise and resubmit when I self published it.

The next full-length project I wrote was A Missing Peace which will be published by Escape, an imprint of Harlequin, wordwide on 9/1. I wrote out my plot points for this one before I ever started. And I managed to write most of this book (all but 19 pages) in the six weeks after my baby and I came home from the hospital. I'm not telling you this for you to learn the three-act structure (although, I recommend it). But because I was the girl who couldn't plot. I LEARNED!!! And while I wish I was one of those talented writers who just knew how to arrange the book and the words to tell it in, the thing I love about this is that I can constantly improve. When I'm bad at something, it can change. And you can too!

About the Author
Meet Beth Fred! That's me! I'm a full time ELF keeper and part time writer/blogger/writing instructor. I'm represented by Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyons Literary Agency. I like my tea hot, my romance sweet, and my guys chivalrous. Real men hold open doors, refer to you as ma'am, make promises they keep, and aren't afraid to profess their undying love. It's not breakfast if there aren't carbs (at least, not in the South). Fajitas, carnitas, and churros are just few of my favorite things. Bet you can't guess where I'm from ;) Wanna know more about me? You can find that here:
Email me: bethfred08(at)gmail.com
Blogger: http://bethfred.blogspot.com/
Tweet me: bethfred08
FB Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/bethfred08

Are you actively seeking to know your weaknesses? What helped you identify them? How are you working to overcome them?
Monday, June 17, 2013 Laurel Garver
I'm now in the UK for a few weeks, so I have some special treats for you--more fabulous guest posts! Today's guest is romance author Beth Fred. Take it away, Beth....


Find what you're bad at.

I bet that's a piece of writing advice you've never heard before, and I mean it. What is your biggest weakness? You need to know because it could be the one thing holding you back. I really really loved one of my first manuscripts, and the feedback was so positive. My CPs and betas swore they loved it too, and while I got rejection after overwhelming rejection they usually complimented the voice and the concept. Close. But no cigar. I knew something had to change, but I didn't know what. So when I started really listening to hidden criticism in the praise it came down to this: I had a convoluted plot. That made sense because I wasn't a plotter. But somehow there was still a story there, so I didn't understand how it could have a beginning, middle, and end, and still somehow not have a strong enough plot.

I knew this though. I want to be a bestseller. And I'll do what it takes to get there. More than that, I want to be a good writer, so if I find a chance to improve I'm going to jump on it. In the past, plotting for me hadn't worked. The words felt forced. I'm the kind of person that has a hard time deviating from something set in writing. And if it had a beginning, middle, and end anyhow, what was the point? Not knowing what else to do, I started breaking books into the seven points of the three-act structure. After a few weeks of doing this, I wrote The Fate of A Marlowe Girl. Two full requests of two queries, and it was on a second-round revise and resubmit when I self published it.

The next full-length project I wrote was A Missing Peace which will be published by Escape, an imprint of Harlequin, wordwide on 9/1. I wrote out my plot points for this one before I ever started. And I managed to write most of this book (all but 19 pages) in the six weeks after my baby and I came home from the hospital. I'm not telling you this for you to learn the three-act structure (although, I recommend it). But because I was the girl who couldn't plot. I LEARNED!!! And while I wish I was one of those talented writers who just knew how to arrange the book and the words to tell it in, the thing I love about this is that I can constantly improve. When I'm bad at something, it can change. And you can too!

About the Author
Meet Beth Fred! That's me! I'm a full time ELF keeper and part time writer/blogger/writing instructor. I'm represented by Kathleen Rushall of Marsal Lyons Literary Agency. I like my tea hot, my romance sweet, and my guys chivalrous. Real men hold open doors, refer to you as ma'am, make promises they keep, and aren't afraid to profess their undying love. It's not breakfast if there aren't carbs (at least, not in the South). Fajitas, carnitas, and churros are just few of my favorite things. Bet you can't guess where I'm from ;) Wanna know more about me? You can find that here:
Email me: bethfred08(at)gmail.com
Blogger: http://bethfred.blogspot.com/
Tweet me: bethfred08
FB Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/bethfred08

Are you actively seeking to know your weaknesses? What helped you identify them? How are you working to overcome them?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

by Jessica Bell

The first word of advice I was given about writing stories in verse was that you can’t just break a short story into lines and call it “verse.”

This is true.

It’s also not.

Because ultimately, that’s what I did with Muted.

Muted was a normal short story to begin with. It was first published in an anthology called From Stage Door Shadows. But I wanted to publish it as a stand-alone piece, too. Mainly because I loved the story and thought it deserved a piece of the limelight.

I did want it to be a little more innovative though, as I’m the type of writer who likes to push boundaries and not conform. The story itself is quite unique, so I wanted to highlight this by making the format unique too. Also, the subject matter is horrific. And I didn’t want it to just be “a horrific story.” I wanted it to be beautiful, too. So turning it into verse created a great juxtaposition.

By writing Muted in verse, I was able to accent the emotion via clever line breaks, a bit of internal rhyme, alliteration, onomatopoeia and unusual formatting. Things that would normally bog a traditional short story down, if done in excess. But in verse? It works. And I believe gives the story an even stronger emotional pull.

But I didn’t just insert line breaks into the prose. After doing this, I had to reevaluate the story as a whole new piece of work. I tweaked a lot of lines to create double meanings in the line breaks, added new elements to the story, amped up the emotion with the poetic devices I mentioned above, and made sure the rhythm of each line flowed naturally, steadily, and rolled off the tongue.

Have you ever written a short story in verse? How did you go about it?

About Muted

What if it were illegal to wear clothes?

What if it were the law to wear a temperature-controlled body suit made of fetus membrane ... every day?

What if you were a singer, and it was illegal to sing?

What if you sang anyway, and got detained by a LEO, and punished by having your vocal chords violently slashed, and eardrums perforated?

What if multiple offenders were killed for their skin?

Would you commit suicide? Drown yourself in the river?

Concetta would.

But something stops her in her tracks ...

Purchase muted: a short story in verse
Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon Ca 


About Jessica

The Australian-native contemporary fiction author and poet, Jessica Bell, also makes a living as an editor and writer for global ELT publishers (English Language Teaching), such as Pearson Education, HarperCollins, Macmillan Education, Education First and Cengage Learning.

She is the co-publishing editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and the director of the Homeric Writers’ Retreat & Workshop on the Greek island of Ithaca.

Connect with Jessica online:
website | retreat & workshop | blog | Vine Leaves Journal | Facebook | Twitter

CLICK HERE  to subscribe to Jessica’s newsletter. Every subscriber will receive The Hum of Sin Against Skin for free, and be the first to know about new releases and special subscriber giveaways.
Tuesday, June 11, 2013 Laurel Garver
by Jessica Bell

The first word of advice I was given about writing stories in verse was that you can’t just break a short story into lines and call it “verse.”

This is true.

It’s also not.

Because ultimately, that’s what I did with Muted.

Muted was a normal short story to begin with. It was first published in an anthology called From Stage Door Shadows. But I wanted to publish it as a stand-alone piece, too. Mainly because I loved the story and thought it deserved a piece of the limelight.

I did want it to be a little more innovative though, as I’m the type of writer who likes to push boundaries and not conform. The story itself is quite unique, so I wanted to highlight this by making the format unique too. Also, the subject matter is horrific. And I didn’t want it to just be “a horrific story.” I wanted it to be beautiful, too. So turning it into verse created a great juxtaposition.

By writing Muted in verse, I was able to accent the emotion via clever line breaks, a bit of internal rhyme, alliteration, onomatopoeia and unusual formatting. Things that would normally bog a traditional short story down, if done in excess. But in verse? It works. And I believe gives the story an even stronger emotional pull.

But I didn’t just insert line breaks into the prose. After doing this, I had to reevaluate the story as a whole new piece of work. I tweaked a lot of lines to create double meanings in the line breaks, added new elements to the story, amped up the emotion with the poetic devices I mentioned above, and made sure the rhythm of each line flowed naturally, steadily, and rolled off the tongue.

Have you ever written a short story in verse? How did you go about it?

About Muted

What if it were illegal to wear clothes?

What if it were the law to wear a temperature-controlled body suit made of fetus membrane ... every day?

What if you were a singer, and it was illegal to sing?

What if you sang anyway, and got detained by a LEO, and punished by having your vocal chords violently slashed, and eardrums perforated?

What if multiple offenders were killed for their skin?

Would you commit suicide? Drown yourself in the river?

Concetta would.

But something stops her in her tracks ...

Purchase muted: a short story in verse
Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon Ca 


About Jessica

The Australian-native contemporary fiction author and poet, Jessica Bell, also makes a living as an editor and writer for global ELT publishers (English Language Teaching), such as Pearson Education, HarperCollins, Macmillan Education, Education First and Cengage Learning.

She is the co-publishing editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and the director of the Homeric Writers’ Retreat & Workshop on the Greek island of Ithaca.

Connect with Jessica online:
website | retreat & workshop | blog | Vine Leaves Journal | Facebook | Twitter

CLICK HERE  to subscribe to Jessica’s newsletter. Every subscriber will receive The Hum of Sin Against Skin for free, and be the first to know about new releases and special subscriber giveaways.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

I'm the featured guest today for Tina's Book Reviews's Saturday Spotlight. I talk about how the ideas of grief, ghosts and God came together in my novel. There's also an Amazon giftcard giveaway going on through July 1. Please swing on by to say hello!

Have any of your stories taken years to gel? Do you revisit trunked projects?
Saturday, June 08, 2013 Laurel Garver
I'm the featured guest today for Tina's Book Reviews's Saturday Spotlight. I talk about how the ideas of grief, ghosts and God came together in my novel. There's also an Amazon giftcard giveaway going on through July 1. Please swing on by to say hello!

Have any of your stories taken years to gel? Do you revisit trunked projects?

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

by PK Hrezo

Thanks so much to Laurel for letting me take over her blog today! If you’re a reader, you probably have your favorite book reviewer blogs, and if you’re a writer, I’m sure you frequent all the great writing blogs for craft tips and techniques, as well as publishing insight. Since most writers are readers, you probably have a combination of the two types, or maybe even blog about them both like I do.

But today I want to single out the book reviewer blogs, and how you can improve your own craft by reading their every post. I know there are a lot out there, and I try to visit as many as I can, but one blog in particular holds the top rank for my visits. If you’re a writer who doesn’t visit it frequently, you should.

Steph Su Reads is one of those voracious readers who has such a keen reader’s eye, and is so knowledgeable, that she’s hard to impress (one of the pitfalls of being exposed to so much great work).What I like best is the fact she’s not a writer—she simply reads books for what they are without that writer critique eye, but with a seasoned reader’s appreciation for good literature. She reads mostly YA, but it doesn’t matter if you don’t write YA, you cans still gain a benefit from reading her reviews.

My favorite posts of hers are the negative reviews. She’s never crass or distasteful, but she breaks down exactly what’s not working. The other day she reviewed a book she didn’t love, and as usual, I devoured it for everything it was worth.

As I do with all her negative reviews, I copied down what it was about the story that DIDN’T work, into my handy dandy word doc for writerly things to remember, entitled, "The Usual Suspects." These are words of wisdom I’ve copied down from various writers, agents, editors, etc. Things I need to check for whenever I think my manuscript is ready. By reading all Steph’s negative reviews and having what didn’t work in the back of my mind, it helps me breathe real life into my story and characters while tweaking my story.

Here’s what Steph Su said recently that stood out for me:

“The fact is that the author did not succeed in making her characters come alive with personality quirks and turns of phrase and all those things that make a person unique.”

Now most writers have heard or read something to this effect before, but paired with the complete review of why that particular story didn’t reach out and pull her in, those specific words sunk into my skin. I thought, “Am I doing this with my story? Have I made my characters come alive?”

Steph’s review of this book was not all negative. She goes into detail on what works and what doesn’t, which is why her reviews are so valuable, but the fact was, it was this sole neglect from the author that did not win Steph over. Therefore the story failed.

Ever since I started reading Steph’s blog, I decided that if I can one day earn a positive review from her, then I know I’ve become a good writer. That day remains to be seen, but it’s a goal worthy of obtaining.  When I think my story is ready to submit, I ask myself, “If Steph read this right now, what would her review be like?”

If you’re a writer who doesn’t already have a strong book reviewer you read regularly, find one, and make it a point to apply what they say to your own work. I highly recommend visiting Steph Su Reads and scrolling through her review posts—especially the negative ones. She’s never rude, but always honest. You know when she says something is good, it’s really good.

About PK Hrezo:  My last name is Czech in origin and pronounced with the H silent. I'm a wife of a firefighter, mom of two and international airline agent. In between all that, I write stuff. Fiction mostly. I'm repped by Jordy Albert of The Booker Albert Agency. I've always wanted to go on a cruise where everyone has to wear roller skates and listen to James Brown. You can stalk me at my blog (pk-hrezo.blogspot.com) or on Twitter (@pkhrezo).

How about you? Is there a book review blog you fancy? Share it in the comments and tell me why. Are you familiar with Steph Su Reads? What do you like or dislike? How have you learned from any book blogger’s negative or positive reviews? 
Wednesday, June 05, 2013 Laurel Garver
by PK Hrezo

Thanks so much to Laurel for letting me take over her blog today! If you’re a reader, you probably have your favorite book reviewer blogs, and if you’re a writer, I’m sure you frequent all the great writing blogs for craft tips and techniques, as well as publishing insight. Since most writers are readers, you probably have a combination of the two types, or maybe even blog about them both like I do.

But today I want to single out the book reviewer blogs, and how you can improve your own craft by reading their every post. I know there are a lot out there, and I try to visit as many as I can, but one blog in particular holds the top rank for my visits. If you’re a writer who doesn’t visit it frequently, you should.

Steph Su Reads is one of those voracious readers who has such a keen reader’s eye, and is so knowledgeable, that she’s hard to impress (one of the pitfalls of being exposed to so much great work).What I like best is the fact she’s not a writer—she simply reads books for what they are without that writer critique eye, but with a seasoned reader’s appreciation for good literature. She reads mostly YA, but it doesn’t matter if you don’t write YA, you cans still gain a benefit from reading her reviews.

My favorite posts of hers are the negative reviews. She’s never crass or distasteful, but she breaks down exactly what’s not working. The other day she reviewed a book she didn’t love, and as usual, I devoured it for everything it was worth.

As I do with all her negative reviews, I copied down what it was about the story that DIDN’T work, into my handy dandy word doc for writerly things to remember, entitled, "The Usual Suspects." These are words of wisdom I’ve copied down from various writers, agents, editors, etc. Things I need to check for whenever I think my manuscript is ready. By reading all Steph’s negative reviews and having what didn’t work in the back of my mind, it helps me breathe real life into my story and characters while tweaking my story.

Here’s what Steph Su said recently that stood out for me:

“The fact is that the author did not succeed in making her characters come alive with personality quirks and turns of phrase and all those things that make a person unique.”

Now most writers have heard or read something to this effect before, but paired with the complete review of why that particular story didn’t reach out and pull her in, those specific words sunk into my skin. I thought, “Am I doing this with my story? Have I made my characters come alive?”

Steph’s review of this book was not all negative. She goes into detail on what works and what doesn’t, which is why her reviews are so valuable, but the fact was, it was this sole neglect from the author that did not win Steph over. Therefore the story failed.

Ever since I started reading Steph’s blog, I decided that if I can one day earn a positive review from her, then I know I’ve become a good writer. That day remains to be seen, but it’s a goal worthy of obtaining.  When I think my story is ready to submit, I ask myself, “If Steph read this right now, what would her review be like?”

If you’re a writer who doesn’t already have a strong book reviewer you read regularly, find one, and make it a point to apply what they say to your own work. I highly recommend visiting Steph Su Reads and scrolling through her review posts—especially the negative ones. She’s never rude, but always honest. You know when she says something is good, it’s really good.

About PK Hrezo:  My last name is Czech in origin and pronounced with the H silent. I'm a wife of a firefighter, mom of two and international airline agent. In between all that, I write stuff. Fiction mostly. I'm repped by Jordy Albert of The Booker Albert Agency. I've always wanted to go on a cruise where everyone has to wear roller skates and listen to James Brown. You can stalk me at my blog (pk-hrezo.blogspot.com) or on Twitter (@pkhrezo).

How about you? Is there a book review blog you fancy? Share it in the comments and tell me why. Are you familiar with Steph Su Reads? What do you like or dislike? How have you learned from any book blogger’s negative or positive reviews? 

Monday, June 03, 2013

Photo by hotblack, morguefile.com
I will be heading overseas in eleven days, which means I won't have tons of time to write posts. Instead, I'll be playing host to a bunch of wonderful writers throughout the month of June.

Wednesday, PK Hrezo will be coming by to share writing lessons learned from reading book review blogs. Later in the month, Jessica Bell will be talking about fiction in verse, Catherine Stein will discuss world building, and Beth Fred will share insights as well.

I have a few more slots open for guest appearances this month. If interested, leave a comment with contact information. All posts would need to be to me by Saturday (6/8).

Any special topics you'd love to share or hear about? 
Monday, June 03, 2013 Laurel Garver
Photo by hotblack, morguefile.com
I will be heading overseas in eleven days, which means I won't have tons of time to write posts. Instead, I'll be playing host to a bunch of wonderful writers throughout the month of June.

Wednesday, PK Hrezo will be coming by to share writing lessons learned from reading book review blogs. Later in the month, Jessica Bell will be talking about fiction in verse, Catherine Stein will discuss world building, and Beth Fred will share insights as well.

I have a few more slots open for guest appearances this month. If interested, leave a comment with contact information. All posts would need to be to me by Saturday (6/8).

Any special topics you'd love to share or hear about?