Friday, August 31, 2012

The Secret to Characterization -- Rowling and Dickens

You can have the best plot and world-building  but if you have no Frodo or no Harry, your book will be lost in time. PLOTS ARE NOT EPIC -- CHARACTERS ARE. This is probably the biggest 'secret' to writing (and I gave it away for free!). Of course, in fiction whose main purpose is to inform, characters aren't vital -- I'm thinking of The DaVinci Code.  Maybe To Kill a Mockingbird (even though I loved the characters). Animal Farm too. 1984? Sigh. Writing and its exceptions.

BUT, for the MOST part.... (Geez.)

You need lovable and memorable characters. It is agonizing to see "Mary" and "Sam" and "Bertha" and "Guadalupe" in one page, and being forced to flip back a few pages to see who Sam was.

Step One of the Secret

Make your characters memorable.
Step Two of the Secret
Make them lovable.
"How?" do you ask? I'll tell ya.


I know, I know. When I first read this, I was like, "Quirks, that's so amateurish. Quirks aren't natural to humans." But they are natural. My quirk is that I'm a Harry Potter fan (a crazy one).

When asked, "Who's SC?" someone will reply, "Oh, he's that freaky Harry Potter maniac who bought four wands and a set of robes," and the other guy will say, "Oh yea, yea, I know him." Quirks work in real life, but they are disguised as "reputation".

Dickens and Rowling are regarded as having the most fantastic casts of characters in all literature, and it all comes back to quirks -- quirky characters (and quirky does not mean comical. Understand that).

How else can we know Dobby, Sydney Carton, Mundungus Fletcher, Kreacher, Hedwig, Professor Sprout, Professor Flitwick, and Fenrir Greyback (sorry for all the HP characters -- I'm just diving into Dickens). We can barely remember the names of the parents in The Fault in Our Stars. (Loved that book, just making a point.) The more I think of it, the more I get amazed by Harry Potter. 200 + characters!!!

No two people are alike -- why make two characters in your book the same? It doesn't make sense (unless there is a reason for it).

Step Two (Again) 

Make your characters lovable. How? Quirks! However, your characters' quirks MUST reveal their personality. Don't make a burly man wear high heels unless he's a model or something. (Actually, that might be pretty cool.) Characterization comes first, then comes the quirk. (I am LOVING Blogger's style options!)

Step Three (Yay, a New Step!)

Give your characters motivation. This is the secret to 3-dimensional characters. Slap them with a motivation and you've got it.

The Final, and (if You've Accomplished the Above) MOST Important Step

Your main character must have an epic character arc (not necessarily an epic plot). This is where your Frodo's and Harry's and Dorothy's come from. This is HUGE. Everything leads up to this. We go through all your character's pain (and pain and pain and pain) because we love him/her (quirks). Then, WE can experience the same resolution as he/she does. This will create an epic hero.

Don't go too crazy with a quirk for your main character. Your main character can have a quirk, but don't make it blatant. We 'become' your main characer as we read; when we look at ourselves in the mirror, we don't see a quirk -- we see a human. We see the quirks in others ;) Make your book realistic.

And please, don't make your characters something they aren't. That's the secret to a failed character. Be honest in your writing, and everything I mentioned above will come naturally. Everything comes second to honesty. That's a big deal in writing.

Hope I helped guys! What do you guys think? Any suggestions to characterization?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Why there are no MG Dystopian Books

I did this post last Monday, and you guys had a bunch of things to say in the comments section.

Stephanie said:

"To me... the topic... is dark and complex when it is at it's best. It is a very gritty genre and is best suited for readers of higher age brackets.... I think if a writer could come up with a light-hearted dystopian tale, it could fit in with MG."

Stina also agreed, saying:

"I've heard that editors and agents are looking for them. Everyone's busy writing YA dystopian books. They're forgetting about the siblings of the teens who read YA. The same thing happened with YA paranormal. Eventually the smart MG writers decided to write the genre. :)"

AWESOME takes guys! I didn't know that the same trend occurred in paranormal -- hopefully it will occur in dystopian.
Here is my take on it.

I think the main reason is that the 'famous' dystopians, like THE HUNGER GAMES, and DIVERGENT, are all geared towards the YA genre. It's not like the authors decide not to go for MG, but seeing the YA around them, it's almost instinctive to go for a YA. With a YA, you can have:

  • a kick-butt (with all the details) protagonist
  • a REAL, cruel, wicked, gorey sense of injustice.
  • a lot more freedom in material
  • more exploration of the 'dystopian' nature of the world, without limitations
  • ability to create characters and laws that people will HATE
  • relative freedom, since, for the most part, teens pick their own books to read, and parents have more of a hold on what middle-grade children read. Dystopians can get quite scary for younger children.
  • YA has all the crazy (and awesome) teen fans -- why not go for the gold?
  • Parents don't want middle-aged children to be exposed to 'rebellion' and the such. I think this is a big one. 'Rebellion' is a BIG deal for teenagers -- just look at CATCHER IN THE RYE. For middle-aged children, they don't really feel the desire to rebel. Maybe this is the core, the burning desire which fuels dystopian sales -- the desire for teens to rebel.
Above are the reasons I think MG Dystopians are almost unheard of. But I seriously do believe that MG Dystopians CAN work -- people are people, no matter if their teenagers or younger, and they will enjoy the same material. It's not like once you turn thirteen, you get a new brain or something, although the last bullet point above does need to be considered.

To do a MG, just take a lighter tone with the dystopian, and have more fun with it. Add quirks, and humor, and funny characters. I mean, HARRY POTTER started off with a double-murder and a freaky guy in a black cloak who drank unicorn blood.... That's pretty scary. It can work if your voice is fun enough and it appeals to an MG audience -- JK Rowling obviously did it ;)

Hope you had fun discussing, and hope my reasons make sense! Do you guys agree?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Why are there no MG Dystopian books?


Is it because dystopian is a more 'serious' genre which MG can't handle? But why not have a lighter dystopian, with less gore and blood?

Because YA sales are shooting off? So is MG....

Because the 'famous' dystopians are YA? But why can't it be MG ?

I have not yet seen a query or a book that is a MG dystopian, and I'm not sure why. Agents are always looking for a fresh take on this genre because it is, honestly, close to being flooded right now. Wouldn't this MG age-group be a fresh take?

  1. Why do you guys think there are no (or very few) MG Dystopian books?
  2. Do you think MG Dystopians can work?

This will be a discussion for you guys in the comments. I'll post my take on this on Wednesday  :)

Thanks! I hope you have fun, and please, comment away! (I'll look really dumb if this gets zero comments.)

Friday, August 24, 2012

2012 -- The Year of Classic (Modern?) Movies

The Oscars are going to have a CRAZY time next year. And we writers will have a CRAZY time in the theatre this year? Why?

It's something I like to call (and you heard it here first) The Year of the Classics.

EVERYWHERE I look, a new movie, a remake of a classic, is hitting the screen!

Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy. (Starring Keira Knightly!)

The Great Gatsby, by F Scott Fitzgerald. (Starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Bollywood star Amitabh Bachan! And directed by Baz Luhrmann!) This one I'm super excited about.

Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens. (Starring freaking Helena Bonham Carter (!!!) And it's Dickens! ANNDD it's directed by Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire's director. ANDD it has Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid) and Ralph Fiennes (Voldemort).)

The Hobbit, by JRR Tolkein. (It's the Hobbit. I mean, seriously. And Peter Jackson is directing it again, of Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, 11 Oscar-winner fame!! Part One, An Unexpected Journey, is out in December.)

Les Miserables, (with the dash over the first 'e' in 'Miserables' but I don't know how to do it) by Victor Hugo, author of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. (WITH ANNE HATHAWAY! And Hugh Jackman! And Russell Crowe! And Amanda Seyfried!)

And so many more, like:

Life of Pi

Oz, the Great and Powerful

All Quiet on the Western Front (which Dan Radcliffe MIGHT be doing), Carrie, My Fair Lady, Red Dawn, and sooooo many more.

This is weird though. With this impressive line-up, it's like all these actors, actresses, and directores, will be in a fist-fight over the Oscars this year.... Did they all just join and decide to remake classics this year ?I don't know, but I have to read GREAT EXPECTATIONS and LES MISERABLES since I don't want to be spoiled in the movie. But this is the year of moving-going writers :)

All I'm waiting (and hoping) for is a remake of A TALE OF TWO CITIES :) That would MAKE my day! (My week. My month. Maybe even my year. MAYBE.) Gosh, I would LOVE having that movie remade!!! AHH!!!

(By the way, the amazing Terri Bruce is having a swag give-away for her book, HEREAFTER. Go check it out, it's great :) )

What classic book would YOU love to see a modern remake of? Which one are you most excited about from the above?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Titles Suck -- Until You Get One. 3 Steps to Get It

I've had this post in my draft folder for a while, but now I've reviving it. Why? I found a title!

Titles are SO hard to come up with. For my YA Fantasy MS, I had it from the beginning that it would be VIS DECOR: ALPHI and I never gave it another thought until agents said my title made no sense and should be intriguing. So, my craze and frustration with titles began, and it went from PURELY GREY to SMASHING THE SEA to PURE SEA, GREY WAVES and I bet it will STILL change.

My new WIP, and adult one, however, was a blessing. The title came to me in a flash when I was jotting down notes for this one EPIC scene (the most epicest scene in the WIP). I was wondering, how to end the last sentence for the notes, which was kind of like what the people are doing, what their purpose is. So I thought, then I hesitantly put two words down. And then I spazzed out. I was so, SO happy, and overjoyed, and I even starred the words and wrote "AHH! TITLE!!" in the notes.

So the title, for now, is DEFENDING PENELOPE, and I bet it will change, but I am happy I have an actual, maybe, decent title on hand. (My previous titles were MAN OF HEALTH and HWEALTH. Not that great, as you can see.)

Titles are a pain. They are frustrating, exhausting, and you just want to scream, "That's not what my book sounds like though! My previous title was freaking amazing!" But quite honestly, your first title might not be the best. Your first idea might not be stellar, and that's okay. Just accept the fact and move on (I still have a soft spot for VIS DECOR: ALPHI but it wasn't working). See what others think of your book.

3 Steps to Get an Awesome Title

1. Get an outside opinion. Ask your crit partners or beta readers (you have those, right?) what they think your book is about once they are done. Ask THEM for titles -- it might not help, but you will get a fresh, unbiased view of how your book's tone really is. For me, I got awesome titles from my critique group and those on Agent Query Connect and it really did help. This is the best way, I feel, to get a title if you are too frustrated.

2. Read this list. She's an awesome agent, and an awesome blogger -- she knows what she's talking about. Plus, it's an insider scoop on how AGENTS title their client's books.

3. Write a 'purpose' summary. What's the point of your book? What does the main character want to accomplish? It can be something tangible (like finding a lost book, or rescuing a princess) or something more abstract (coping with loss, getting over a divorce, finding closure). That's how I found my DEFENDING PENELOPE title, and it really worked (I feel). The title should also be a reflection of the book and its tone, and the books usually is all about the end goal; what the character wants.

Everything else I could say is in the link in Step 2, so do read that :) I don't want to repeat anything, and there is gold in there.

How have your title searches been? Any frustrating experiences, or amazing ones?

OHH, OHHH!!!! What is your favorite title -- it can be from your own book, or ANY book out there :)

Friday, August 17, 2012

What if? 50 Shades of Snow White

THIS WAS SO MUCH FUN!!! I loved writing this, and I hope you guys catch all the little details, and I hope you enjoy this :) This is for the What if? Fairytale Blogfest, and my entry is 50 SHADES OF SNOW WHITE for Team Comedy. Woo!

Snow White ran through the dark forest, twigs and thorns slashing at her face and drawing blood. It felt good, but she had to keep running -- her crazy step-mother wanted to kill her.

She came across a small house in the woods, and peeking through the window, she saw seven little figures bobbing up and down like tops.

"Seven men all alone in a house," Snow said. "Yes. My favorite."

So she walked in, and of course, the seven men went crazy after her except one guy, who lay in the corner snarling.

"Oh, don't mind Grumpy," said Sleepy (which was Snow's favorite dwarf, because she loved to sleep).

"That's okay. I'll teach him how to be Happy," Snow said, and everyone laughed.

This all ended when the Queen arrived, holding a bright red apple, and Snow, like any idiot would do, ate it.

"Ah ha!" the Queen cried, jubilant with joy. "Snow has fallen!" (The dwarfs looked up, expecting to see a blizzard, but it was sunny. Then, they saw her body and were not confused.)

It was a sad, quiet funeral. Her body was put in a golden tomb, and Sleepy put a flower between Snow's crossed hands. They put flowers all around the tomb. Everyone cried.

That all ended when Prince Harming rode into town. He snatched the flower from Snow's hand and threw it aside quite roughly (he had a thing about stealing women's flowers) and planted a kiss right on Snow's mouth.

"Ow!" Snow said, rising on top of the tomb, the flowers completely messed up by this time. "You hurt my hand." But with one look at Prince Harming's gorgeous face, she blushed, and said, "It's all right."

And they went riding happily ever after.

Hope you guys liked it :) First time writing something like that... it was fun :) Thanks again! Check out the rest of the entries here:

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Winner of Blog Banner Give-Away! :D

So, about two weeks ago, we had this give-away on this very blog for a customized blog banner! This is from the AMAZING Kelley York, author of HUSHED and the recently released, HOLLOWED. So, here is the winner. (Sorry, this is one week later than I promised! It's my fault; I had a cousin's marriage to go to and things got crazy.)

So, there were two entrants and I went to (look at their scientific explanation thingy for how 'random' their 'randomness' is. It seems pretty random) and made the range 1-2. Then, I tweeted some suspensy tweets, and then, I hit 'Generate'.

Drum roll, please.....
The winner is....
(Just one more.)
CONGRATS!!!! Email me at and I'll get you in touch with her :)

Thank you guys for participating! Hope you had fun during the Guest Blogging Marathon :)

My What if? Fairytale Blogfest entry will be going up tomorrow, and it's called 50 Shades of Snow White :) Hope you guys will enjoy it!

Monday, August 13, 2012

When it Gets to be Too Much Blogging

I just realized how much writing and stuff I can get done if I step away from the Internet.

I'm writing my WIP longhand, so I don't even need to get to the computer, and that is AMAZING to me. I get so much work done and it is fun to write! I realized all this when I had my 2 week break from blogging about three weeks ago.

Now, I'm back to the Internet and stuff, and I don't get much writing done. Well, I do, but not as much, I don't think. There are too many distractions, you know? But I think I'm getting good at blocking in time for writing, kind of like "Oh, I have time now, so let me get my 8 pages in." That sort of thing. And blogging is SO MUCH FUN for me! I love just connecting with writers and things like that.

I've decided to blog about two times a week now, but if I miss blogging too much or have time, I'll throw in a post on Wednesday. For now, it's Monday and Friday, but that can change around :) Blogging is fun though! But I need to get some writing done :)

Just watch... I'll think of something new every week and it'll end up to being three posts a week again.... :/

But I do need to be productive, so the twice-a-week schedule is sort of a baseline for me :)

This kind of (kind of) came from Rachelle Gardner saying writers should spend 90% of their time writing, 10% networking.

Writers need to write. That's it. Kind of scary, I know :) I'm just going to try getting 8 pages a day, and the rest of the time, if I want, I'll spend on the Internet. I won't go for percents, just word count :) But Rachelle's percentages are really something to think about.

Too often, writers get sucked into networking that they become networking stars but not writing stars. Writers are primarily writers. Even though we need to build our platform, we can't build it if we've written nothing. The networking comes after :)

Thank you guys for understanding!

Have you ever felt blogging makes you less productive? How about networking? Does it cut into your time too much, or do you feel it is a necessary concequence for platform-building?

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Secret to Voice -- 6 Ways to Achieve It


Oh gosh, this little word gave me such a nightmare in my first manuscript, when agents kept saying it was so important. It KILLED me.

What makes voice so difficult? Is it because it is so elusive? An inexplicable, "I'll know it when I see it"? Voice is frequently heralded, by agents, as one of the top reasons they turn down manuscripts: the difference between slush and publication.

The best way, I found, to KNOW voice, was to read books that had it. This meant THE CATCHER IN THE RYE (which, I feel, should be the epitome and golden standard in voice. I kept reading because I lovveed the voice), and THE FAULT IN OUR STARS (kept reading because it was so addicting). Those are the two main ones I feel really stood out to me in voice. Mostly, anything John Green, like LOOKING FOR ALASKA. But Salinger (THE CATCHER IN THE RYE). Oh my, Salinger. His voice is excellent. So authoritative, so fun, so... addicting! He is THE literary voice.

That is what voice is. It makes your book addicting to read, and readers won't know why they keep reading it. That is why voice is so important. You know how you read some pages for critiquing and you can just tell they sound like they came from a 'real' book? That's voice.  Voice is crucial. That scares me too guys, don't worry :) My first MS was a bombshell, partly due to voice (which is why I'm rewriting it later on).

So how do you get voice?

1. Write 1st person. Never an easier way than this, but also dangerous if you do it wrong. Voice is basically all about getting spice in the way you say write things. If you don't write 1st person, don't fear. Here is a way to sidestep it. Write your entire book in a 1st person omniscient narrator, or a 'ghost' or future self of your real main character who 'sees' what is going on to your main character, and then, once you are done, delete every instance the narrator comes up. The ghost of the voice will remain, even though you've turned it into a 3rd person limited or omniscient novel.

2. Imagine yourself inside the main character's head. This is basically like the 1st person rule, but just pretend you ARE the main character, and you are telling us everything that is happening from the way they see it. Main thing is, bring some personality into it.

3. Write. Write, write, then write some more. I've realized it is SO much easier to find your literary voice after you've finished your first manuscript, or you've written a lot. Find a voice that fits you. One you are comfortable with. I think JK Rowling said something like you will invariably copy your favorite writers in the beginning, and that is fine. I did that with my first manuscript, and that is why it needs a complete rewrite.

4. Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the men of old; seek what they sought. (A little Zen there.) Develop your own voice, and perfect it. I honestly don't think anyone will be able to copy Salinger's voice in THE CATCHER IN THE RYE. It is so authentic, and if anyone tries to copy it, it will be so blatantly obvious. It will be futile to try copying someone else. It is your book, in the end. Make it yours.

5. Develop your own style.  I read this from somewhere, but the golden standard of voice is where someone can pick up your book, without seeing the author or title, and tell you wrote it.

6. Write in longhand. Kind of an odd one to end this off with, I know, but trust me, IT WORKS! Writing with pen and paper has helped me soooo much in my new WIP. I tried to use the computer but it felt... wrong. Longhand is freeing, and its more passionate than clicking keys. Plus, you don't go back and delete what you just wrote, because line slashes just look bad, so you don't do them too much. Plus, horrible handwriting it's easy to pretend my horrible handwriting does not consist of words, so I don't read and edit it when I don't want to. Thus, my writing is fresher and not sucked dry.

So, if you've been having problem with voice, try some of these tings :) I think even one of them would help tremendously, and try the longhand one :) That worked the best for me. Thank you!

Have you had trouble with voice? What are your methods to achieving it?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

YAYY!! Blog Award! The Liebster

I got nominated for this blog award by the fantastic Jeannette over here :) This is my second blog award so I am giddy with joy :) Thank you so much Jeannette for thinking about me!

This blog award is meant to encourage writers in their journey, to tell them it's not all useless, and there is a purpose in all this. Liebster means 'favorite' or 'beloved' in German, apparently, so that's where the name comes from :)

This award goes out to those with less than 200 followers.
Rules for accepting the Liebster Award:
1. If you are nominated for the award and accept it, then you have won!
2. Link back to the person who presented the award to you.
3. Nominate 3-5 blogs with less than 200 followers who you feel deserve the award.
4. Let the nominees know by leaving a comment on their blog.
5. Attach the Liebster award badge to your site.

I nominate:

Kendra Conine
The great duo over at Pineapple Lightening
Kela McClelland
Stephanie Adele
EB Black
Debra McKellan

Oh gosh, I bet I forgot so many more, I'm sorry if I did! I love all you guys so if you have less than 200 followers, just take the badge :) I'd be going crazy trying to find all you awesome people out there with less than 200.

Thank you! Hope you have fun with the award :) :DDDD (A few smiley faces, because I didn't use enough :) ).

Monday, August 6, 2012

An Incredible Thank You

A HUGE thank you goes out to you guys.

The last two weeks I was on vacation with no Internet or phone or laptop or computer. It got easier, (and funner) as the days passed. I still missed you guys though. I missed the amazing writers' community on the Internet.

There were times where I was thinking, "Oh no, the scheduled blog posts I had for these two weeks, due to some technicality, won't post. My blog will be dead even though I promised posts, and even though I asked for posts from my close friends." It was scary, not knowing what was happening, almost like leaving your own home for two weeks. I was scared that everyone disappeared when I got on the Internet yesterday.

They didn't.

You guys are more amazing than I can say. For two weeks, even though I wasn't here, you guys helped me out so much. I feel this Blogging Marathon was a huge success, because I've seen new, amazing people (sorry for not commenting on all the comments, I'm still recovering from post-vacation exhaustion) and I hope the guest bloggers had fun (did you?). You guys are blessing, and meeting everyone here is one of the, if not the, most amazing things that ever happened to me as a writer. I love you guys more than I can say.

This entire post will be all about thanking you guys because it is just so important. I'm literally like smiling while I'm writing this. Eep! And I haven't used ONE exclamation point or smiley this whole entire time till now! That is like a record for me, which shows just how seriously I mean what I said. Here comes the exclamation point and smiley train wreck, because I just NEED to use them. You guys seriously are the best :)

I loved reading all the comments and seeing the interactions that happened while I was away. So many AWESOME posts went up, and I love reading all of them (again). Oh, and the give-away is still going on! So sign up!! It is an AWESOME give-away. Seriously.

Thank you guys once again :) You are the best.

Friday, August 3, 2012

4 Ways to Tell if your Blog Looks Hideous & FREE Blog Banner Give-Away!

All right, we are going to end off this guest blogging marathon with a BANG!!! And I mean bang. Please welcome Kelley York, guest blogger at many websites (which you can see below in her bio section) including YAtopia, which just passed its 1,000 follower mark!

She is a GENIUS when it comes to blog design. And, she is giving away one of her beautiful blog banners to a luck winner! I cannot thank her enough for her amazing generocity and willingness to go the extra mile. She is fantastic. Look at the end to see the details of the give away!

But first, the beauty test. Does your blog pass it?


Hello, readers of SC's blog! While thinking of topics for this guest post, it came to mind that I could touch on a subject I haven't before, even on my own blog.


Or, specifically, designs. What makes a visually good blog?

If you aren't graphics-savvy, there’s always the option of using a pre-made template and header from one of the thousands of template websites, or paying someone to make one for you if it's within your budget. But if you want to delve in and try a few things yourself, I can give you some pointers.

What I like to see when I go to someone's blog:

The Checklist to a Beautiful Blog -- Does Yours Pass?

1. A clean, easy-on-the-eyes layout.
  • Avoid colors that are a strain on the eyes. For the love of everything ever, don't put something like red or yellow text on a black background. Use a dark color on a light background. Light on dark is possible, but if you've ever tried reading a long chunk of text this way, it starts to hurt.
  •  For the body of your posts, stick to a simple font like Times New Roman or Arial, around 12 point in size. Too small strains the eyes; too big makes the blog look cluttered.
  • Find a color scheme. My current theme on Flowers for Ghosts is, simply, black and white. The last layout was white, pastel green, and baby blue. I incorporate these colors into everything; even the buttons in my side bar are monochrome. Find two or three base colors to revolve the rest of your layout around.
  • Avoid nasty, cluttered headers that look like they were made in MS paint. Something simple and clean is best. Try Stock Exchange for free images to modify and use.
  • It's not 1995 anymore, so you should not have music playing in the background of your page, or animated gifs all over the place. Get rid of them.
  • Streamline your sidebars. This is a pet-peeve of mine. Lots of people list books they like/friends' books in their sidebars, and that's great! However, make them all the same size. Whatever buttons, icons, banners, etc you're using, open up Photoshop or Gimp or whatever, and make all the images the same width. You'll be amazed how much this cleans things up!

2. An immediate idea of what the blog is about and who is writing it.
  • If, in the page titles beneath your header, I see "review policy," I immediately assume this is a book review blog. If I see "my books," I assume you're a writer. Have an "about" page or even a brief blurb in the sidebar. Let people know your name, and give me an idea what your blog focuses on.
  • On this note, give your blog a title that is memorable. If your title is "Jennifer's Blog," chances are there are ten others out there in the book community with the same thing. Give us a name that sticks.

3. Easy access to contact information.
  • Social media is important, so tell me how to find you. Your twitter handle, facebook page, goodreads, and group blogs should be someplace easy to find. Preferably in your 'about' section, as that is the first place most will look. Chances are if I decide to follow your blog, I want to follow you other places, too.

4. Interesting content.
  • Doesn't this go without saying?
  • Keep on topic. If you're a book reviewer and 60% of your posts are about My Little Pony, I'm probably going to unfollow.
  • If you're a writer, avoid discussing anything you wouldn't want an agent, editor, or potential reader to stumble upon. I've seen many authors talking in great detail about their querying process. Believe me, agents DO look at your blog if they're considering your book, and will be deterred if they see information they don't like.
  • Display courtesy. This is a big issue in the writing world, from book bloggers to authors alike. Express manners and kindness to your fellow writers/bloggers/reviewers/readers. Treat them as you want to be treated. I guarantee, the fastest way for me to unfollow anyone anywhere is if I see them being, frankly, a jerkface.

I’d like to take the opportunity to give away one free custom blog or website header! (Of course, you aren’t obligated to use it. ;) ) You can see samples of the graphics I’ve done here:

And a simpler one:

  1.  I’ll include a button and banner for people to link back to your blog.
  2. You’ll need to give me an idea of what size your banner needs to be. Exact specs would be preferable, but if you don’t know, we’ll work it out.
  3. You can send me an image of your choosing, or give me an idea of what you want and I’ll find images myself. If you want something to color-coordinate with the current color theme of your blog, I can do that, too.
  4. You must be a follower of this blog (SCwrite).
  5. You must be a follower of my blog
  6. Leave a comment with your email address below.

We’ll choose a winner at random one week from today. Thanks, SC, for having me!


Need to add some spice to your blog? Enter this give-away :) You won't regret it!

Kelley York guest blogs over at
Flowers for Ghosts, YAtopia, and For the Love of Contemporary. Obviously she is an expert in blogging! So do participate in her give away! She is also the author of HUSHED.
READ THIS SUMMARY. JUST READ IT. Then you'll know how awesome it is. It got a 4.27 out of 5 stars on Goodreads! Just READ the reviews of this book on that site. I searched for a good excerpt to put here, but there are frankly too many that I got lost in reading them.

He’s saved her. He’s loved her. He’s killed for her.

Eighteen-year-old Archer couldn’t protect his best friend, Vivian, from what happened when they were kids, so he’s never stopped trying to protect her from everything else. It doesn’t matter that Vivian only uses him when hopping from one toxic relationship to another—Archer is always there, waiting to be noticed.

Then along comes Evan, the only person who’s ever cared about Archer without a single string attached. The harder he falls for Evan, the more Archer sees Vivian for the manipulative hot-mess she really is.

But Viv has her hooks in deep, and when she finds out about the murders Archer’s committed and his relationship with Evan, she threatens to turn him in if she doesn’t get what she wants… And what she wants is Evan’s death, and for Archer to forfeit his last chance at redemption.

I just want to take the time to throw out a HUGE thank you to Kelley. The give away was completely her idea and there was no requirement for it at all. She is so nice, and a great writer :) (You read the above summary, right?)

Anndd, her new book below :) Read about it here!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Taming the Dog that is Self-Publishing

Here is an AWESOME post about self-publishing's struggles from the wonderful EB Black. I feel every self-publisher can relate to this.


My Mom remembers when I was a little kid, so she still thinks of me as a bit helpless. She makes references that drive me crazy about the fear I had of touching raw meat when I was a child (it was icky) and the way I used to keep my room messy all the time. When in reality, I like to prove myself capable of doing anything, even when it has disastrous results.

For instance, I own two dogs – both rottweilers. I am physically weak, but when no men were home to walk the dogs in the middle of the day for a week, I decided I could do it myself. In fact, I could walk both of them at once. After all, they do it, why can’t I?

The result was a car driving by and both of them almost ripping my arms out of their sockets as they charged towards it. I dropped the leashes and they ran away.

The driver of the car handled it well. They stopped, which was lucky, since one of my dogs stuck its head under the front wheel to bark more effectively at it, but I’m pretty sure I scared them by screaming at my dogs at the top of my lungs and including a few swear words.

I was afraid they’d get taken away or be hurt. If you can’t control your dog what they do is all your fault and it can have disastrous consequences. I don’t want them to bite someone (or even scare people for that matter) or get run over by a car.

I’ve decided to self-publish recently. I’m not even going to query agents with my current manuscript, a romance novel starring Medusa. I’ve decided I can handle the task by myself. That being said, there’s still only so much I can do on my own. I market, I’ve created my cover already, I’ve finished writing my manuscript, but I need beta readers and editors to help me perfect it. I also depend on fellow writers to teach me what they’ve learned so I don’t make the same mistakes and my boyfriend/family to help fund it. I’d like to not need any of these people’s help, to be beyond making mistakes and able to afford it on my own, but the reality is, we all need others in every pursuit of life.

No matter how perfect you may think your manuscript is, there’s always someone who can show you where problem areas are. I’ve learned so much and my novel will be much better because of beta readers. We need editors. Humans were made to depend on others and it only improves us when we do.

I still wish I was strong enough to walk the dogs on my own. Sometimes, in my head, I imagine myself working out more until I can do it by myself. But then I just laugh and shake my head. It’s okay not to be able to do everything.


E.B. Black is a speculative fiction and romance writer who lives in Southern California with her boyfriend and two dogs. She blogs about writing and her love of necromancers. Visit her at

And follow her blog and her twitter. She's amazing. You saw her awesome post, RIGHT?!!?! She is filled with amazing things, and I love this post. So go and follow her :)