Monday, November 12, 2018

Ageism in Writing

It's interesting how I had these ugly feelings about my age (late thirties) and suddenly I see this Insta-story by Mary E. Pearson, author of several YA fantasy books, including the most recent DANCE OF THIEVES. She talked openly and honestly about the stigma and how her first book wasn't published until she was already 45. Mary is 63 and still going strong, still writing and staying undefined by her age. (P.S. Her skin is flawless and looks crazy young!)

Another author I looked up was JK Rowling, who was 32 when her 1st book published, and 42 when the series was done. Keep in mind it took several rewrites when she conceptualized/drafted the first book at 25. At 53, she still writes strong, especially in her Adult pen name, Robert Galbraith.

However, several new, upcoming, or even authors with books really charting those charts, are all...young. 20s, Early 30s. I'll flip to the end of finished books to see author photos and its like looking at kids and I feel ancient!  And dang, you probably are young in my eyes, too, and I'm NOT preaching to the choir!

Personally, I wonder as an unpublished author if what I'm doing in trying to be published is too late in life. Yeah, we hear there is no age limit, but is that really true? Do you ever wonder if an agent looks at your age and thinks well, we can pump out at least this many books before they croak?

I often wonder what MY excuse is for not "noveling" sooner. Yeah, I made that word legit. Spread that. Growing up and into my high school years, it was always poetry, lyrics, and novel "attempts." After H.S. and an amazing creative writing class my senior year, I went for a "real novel this time." Lost it, and ... life went crazy in a vague nutshell. It wasn't until I moved to this little island in 2006 that I wanted to write about its history and remembered - Hey! I used to love writing!!!

Slowly, and after a few newspaper articles, I regained that passion and around 2012/2013 tried to rewrite that story in H.S. I lost. It's buried on my laptop, now. Where it should be. But what a learning process!! Then I got pissed and wrote a WF about being a pissed off writer with life issues. HAHAHA! Jokes on me, it didn't get published and I realized I'm not a WF writer.

So what is my excuse for taking this all the way into my 30's to start noveling?? Stupidity? The dark ages in my life? I don't know. But, I suppose it's better than waiting until my 98th birthday, with my last breath saying, "So, I have this idea for a Viking..." *croaks*

Here's my last tidbit about ageism in writing...if you can think it, you can write it. There is no golden age, formula, maturity. You are the only one stopping you or allowing others to. Screw that! Show them what you're twerking with. See? I'm hip. I'm young. :)~

*click to see Mary E. Pearson's insta-story on ageism here*

Tell me your thoughts! If you're under 40, don't you dare! Kidding!!!!!

Love your guts,

-Tammy-

Monday, October 22, 2018

Honing Your Craft

A few years ago when I first heard that phrase, I really hated it. I thought it was the stupidest expression ever. It wasn't that I didn't understand what it meant, it just sounded silly, ridiculous. Hone your craft? Craft for me means glitter, glue, and popsicle sticks. So was I supposed to sharpen and shape my...popsicle stick hut??
I never correlated writing with being a "craft". And some people say that writing isn't a "hobby" and how dare we say that! Well, technically, working on crafts is a hobby, so why ISN'T writing ok to say is a hobby if we're saying it's a craft? Who cares, quite frankly? That's how I see it. Call it whatever the heck you want!! But whatever you call it, find out how you can "hone" it. *cringes*

Lately, I decided to take my Viking story and give it a major honing. I honed the crap out of it. I even removed several scenes and replaced the beginning storyline, effecting other scenes. A lot was rewritten, and I was drafting my already finished book all over again. I decided what must stay and what must go and what just simply had to be new. It took me all summer and into the beginnings of fall to finish. I didn't get to give it the time I wanted with accepting more hours at work, and giving my kids a summer that I was present for as much as possible. And, seriously, some days I didn't want to look at it.

When I was done, I wondered if the storyline even made sense. If I left threads out. If I had just a scatter of yarn balls and cats playing in there. I outlined each chapter and the scenes. To my surprise (and tears) everything was accounted for!

Next, I began adding in emotional and interior thoughts, while cleaning spots, too. But, when I went back a few chapters to correct something, I found my beginning was too strong and the rest like rubber. Literally, I was like "eff my life!". Now, I'm back to the beginning chapters, weeding out all the crap left and right. I'm finding the story hidden beneath the over use of fertilizer.

I could sit here and be really, really mad that I had to go back. I'm not though. I'm happy that by working on it and reading books along the way, I am sculpting my clay. I am glittering my paper. I am sticker-ing my scrapbook. I am honing my craft. I am practicing even if on the same piece of work.

If a craft example isn't your thing, how about: The only way to master a 3-pointer in basketball is to keep shooting over and over and over. Same ball. Same hoop. And sometimes, the same spot. Adjust your hands. Adjust your footing. Adjust your strength. Soon - swish.

What about you? How long did it take until you found your niche in something? What helped you figure out what you were doing wrong or gave you the boost you needed in the right direction?

Love your guts,

-Tammy-

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Viking Book Update

Hey everyone! It's been a month since I've come on here and talked about what's going on progress wise with DAUGHTERS OF ASH. In my last post I shared about my book, I explained that I was waiting back on edits from my CP. Well, I got them back. For only 6 chapters.

Long story really short, I needed to do some finer tuning, and after a brainstorming session with my CP for something else in the book, I revealed some of the unread plot and the decision was made to redo the plot's direction.

Can you imagine? You create this book and stand behind it through thick and thin to realize the plot is going in the wrong direction. At least I have a saving grace in this, I only need to technically massively rethink the beginning to midpoint of the book. The rest is more edits and occasional rewrites. Everything before that is new chapters, new characters, combined chapters, and lots and lots of editing.

Here's the cool part - you'd think I'd be upset about it. And initially I was. However, once I got going on it, I was having all the fun. It felt right. All of it. Now, I'm half way done!

I want to share a book with you that seriously rocked every being of my core before I partook of the editing bread. It's called SELF-EDITING FOR THE FICTION WRITER. And as much as I want to keep this as my little secret, I can't. And I haven't been. It literally rocked my writing perspective. I followed that glorious bible of editing genius-ness with two other suggested editing books by my CP you will see on my left side-bar, but they were just repeating the same things this one did.


If you're going into edits at any stage of your writing, read this book. Eat this book, in fact. Devour every word. I ended up writing pages and pages of meticulous highlighted notes from all my highlights IN the book. Ha! Plus, I'm doing a lesson on one of the points in my writing group today!

Wish me luck through these edits. I seriously need all the cheering I can get!

Question: Have you ever completed a book, thought you were nearly done to find your plot just wasn't working in the right direction after all??

BOOKS READ: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black (a human girl finding her way in a fae world of crooked reigning) On Writing by Stephen King (half memoir, half editing tips)

READING: Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor (magic in Nigeria), The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman (a boy spy protecting a baby), Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott (editing book)

MOVIES WATCHED: The Saratov Approach (True story of 2 missionaries kidnapped, beaten, and held for ransom in 1998 during a Russian mission) I cried...so much.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Cover Reveal: FIGHTING FATE by Shaila Patel

Happy Valentine's Day!!! Guess what? I, and a few others, have the honor of revealing the cover for Shaila Patel's 2nd book in the Joining of Souls series. And here it is!!! Also below is even a little excerpt and rafflecopter. Who doesn't love free things?? Enjoy! Make tons of love on this glorious day (safely and preferably with your...soul mate...see what I did there?)




SOULMATED: FIGHTING FATE - EXCERPT
(Joining of Souls Book 2)

Under the cover of her porch, I returned her bag to her. We moved apart. With the
connection broken, she let out a shuddering sob. The pain of separating from her hit me square in
the chest. I wanted to hold and comfort her, but I was already making a dog’s dinner of this just
by being here. This would set her back—set us both back.
She turned away from me. Her hand shot up to her mouth, and her shoulders shook. I
instinctively stepped forward, but all I could do was curl my fingers into my palms to keep from
touching her.
“I miss you so much, Liam,” she said, the words choked out between hoarse cries. “I’m
sorry. I know I’m not supposed to be weak.” She slapped away her tears and turned to face me.
A bolt of lightning cracked nearby. I couldn’t stay. The tingling was pulling us together like it
was some sort of magnetic current.
“You’re not weak. I miss you too, Lucky.”
Her eyes grew cold in an instant. The fury of the sandstorm I sensed from her made me
gasp, and I stumbled back. “Jaysus, Lucky.” We were crossing interpretations again. I was
reading her emotions as air metaphors instead.
She barreled toward me, her hands balled up, apparently unaware of the effect her anger
had on me. “You have no right to miss me. You left me!” She beat her fists against my chest, and
I had to grab her by the wrists to stop her.
“Are you thinkin’ this has been easy for me?”
She wriggled free from my grip. “Whose fault is that?” she yelled above a roll of thunder.
I didn’t want her to see the pain on my face, so I turned away, holding myself up on the white,
wooden railing. The whirlpool of her anguish surrounded me, making my head ache.
I took a deep breath and lowered my voice. “Lucky, I broke my promises to you. For that,
I’m truly sorry. But I had little enough choice. None of that changes my feelings for you.”
“I’m not The One, so it’s time to move on. Is that it? Regardless of how you feel? Of how
I feel?” Her voice cracked. “You’re a coward.”
I heard her fumbling for her keys. She’d be inside soon, and I’d rather be fighting with
her on the porch than be without her.
“So where next, hmm?” she asked. “North Dakota? Vermont? Ooo, I know. You should
go to India. You could play this game for the rest of your life!”
I turned to face her. Her sarcasm was brutal, but I deserved all that and more.
She tried to unlock her door, but the keys slipped from her grip. She stooped to pick them
up, but her fingers were shaking so badly, she dropped them again.
“Dammit!” She crouched a second time and sucked back another sob.
I swept down and set my hands over hers to steady them. Taking the keys, I unlocked the
door, followed her inside, and bundled her in a blanket from off the sofa. Lucky didn’t protest.
We stood there, dripping water on her mum’s carpet, staring into each other’s eyes. Grabbing
fistfuls of the covering around her neck, I gently rocked her, tugging her closer, fighting the
craving to kiss her. My breaths came out fast and shallow, and only clinging to the material with
both hands kept me from sneaking a touch of her soft skin. If I didn’t leave now, I’d stay because
I didn’t have an ounce of the strength she had. Maybe I was the coward she’d accused me of
being.

PRE-ORDER HERE: http://www.books2read.com/FightingFate


FIGHTING FATE Summary
Empath Liam Whelan is determined to protect Laxshmi "Lucky" Kapadia, the girl he loves, at all costs--even if it means breaking her heart to keep her alive. Stopping the joining cold means Liam's life is in danger from the Soul Seekers and the ruthless Minister Gagliardi who now has designs on Lucky. Liam has no choice but to find the strength to fight his desires, fight the joining, and fight fate.
After the unthinkable happened, Lucky's "hallucinations" have been working double-time. Heartbroken and plagued by doubts, she meets a man who gives her a mind-blowing explanation for her predicament. Her apparent savior provides her with an escape from her hell: run away with him or return to her drab existence and watch Liam move on with her heart in his hands. All Lucky ever craved was to be in control of her own fate, but when her only choices fight against her heart, can she find the strength to battle for what she wants?
SOULMATED Summary (Book One)
Irish royal empath Liam Whelan is being forced by his family to search for his empath soul mate, and finds Laxshmi Kapadia instead. The problem? She's not an empath. Now he has to decide just what he'll sacrifice to be with her.


Shaila Patel, a member of RWA and SCBWI, is a pharmacist by training, a medical office manager by day, and a writer by night. Her debut #ownvoices novel, SOULMATED, won the 2015 Chanticleer Book Reviews Paranormal Awards for Young Adult. The sequel, FIGHTING FATE, releases April 2018.




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Love your guts, -Tammy-

Monday, February 12, 2018

When Your Story Gives You Lemons

You know the phrase when life hands you lemons, make lemonade, right? Well, I have yet to make lemonade. I am more in the process of somehow squirting the juice in my eyes!!

How you ask? If you have been following my writing journey with my YA Vikings book, you would know I'm currently on a 3rd round of edits. (1st round was on my own after drafting, and the other right before Pitch Wars from beta suggestions.)

Right when I was 3/4 done with this round of edits and seeing the end coming near, my CP and I talked about the changes and a suggestion was made to change to only 1POV from 3POV. I really had to sit on that and let it permeate. The next day I tried it for 2 chapters. It was fast, straight talking, gutless writing. The heroine was way fiercer than my heroine now. Romance was already in the story and not coming later in the story. I liked it, she loved it. I started re-plotting on paper and then...another CP read it and said it just wasn't as good as the original. That it was ok in comparison.

Oye vey...

When the chips fall and you can't figure out which ones to pick up and save, what do you do? Who do you listen to? Everyone says yourself, but sometimes you can't even think straight or have faith in your decision that what you choose is saleable.

Oye double vey...

I was told to let the Vikings story sit with my 2nd CP so she can read it through and see what will help, and get it back to me in a couple weeks. But something kept me from doing that. I couldn't stop trying to fix it! In my head. In my brainstorming. Just not on paper anymore. And if you know me, I have no patience whatsoever.

That weekend, I stepped back because I felt literally sick from all the emotions (loads of shameless crying) I had gone through thinking about what to do. I did lots of prayer, tons of service, and I received my answer: THIS story has value. The original held that value and human virtues I wanted teens and tweens to remember and hold true and on to. The "newer, faster" version was just a mock of something I was trying because it proved successful for another - make the heroine balls to the walls. Which is great, but wasn't my initial idea or intentions.

So was I being fake rewriting it that way? Maybe. I don't know.

I decided to write out all my scenes, and began to notice what could be taken away, or what I was noticing didn't quite work, or just fleeting ideas. I mentioned them to my 2nd CP to be aware of while reading it over. Then, I really did let it go.

I stopped squirting my eyes with lemon juices!!

I took her advice, one I couldn't do at the time with my head such a mushy mess, and began thinking about my other MS - ORPHANS OF DARK. (Always try to work on new stuff when others are away at weightloss camp.) ORPHANS OF DARK is a dark fantasy genderswap retelling of Cinderella meets Six of Crows/Suicide Squad. I had actually began storyboarding and 1st chapter drafting this premise during Pitch Wars last September. I was reading through Mentors wants and I kept seeing a common theme. And then it sparked an idea, and I've loved it ever since.

When I get my Vikings novel back, I hope we can make lemonade. Lots and lots of lemonade. And I hope to pass tons of it around to all my friends! 

Question:
1. Have you ever written a novel only to fixate TOO much on what could be wrong when you should really just step away and let another figure it out?

Reading: SOULMATED by Shaila Patel, CITY OF BONES by Cassandra Clare
Read: (I haven't read so much because of all that lemon squirting) A FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS by Julie C. Dao, the evil queen's story in an Asian retelling, THIS SAVAGE SONG by Victoria Schwab, a human and monster take down the bad guy
Movie: SUPERMAN:HOMECOMING, I started it half-way because I was so busy, but I loved what I saw!

Love your guts,

-Tammy-

Monday, January 22, 2018

A Year in the Making

Last year on January 19th, I began typing the first chapter of my YA Viking Fantasy and called the book THE KING OF DAUGHTERS.  The book was conceptualized from this photo sent to me by my sister, laughing about how this was just like us growing up.

After 3 months of drafting, it was done and edits began, then beta notes and more edits. I geared up for pitchwars, the online writing contest. I wanted to see it's potential. And I was surprised I got a few requests, even though it didn't make it in. It gave me enough to know this was something. Then, I received several requests from agents, but nothing stuck. Then came the writer's retreat where I met Jennifer Nielsen who volunteered to read my query, synopsis, and 1st chapter. She gave me incredible advice when I was at the point of really not knowing what more I could do.

Jennifer's advice forced me to cut cut cut and snip snip snip, and away I went for 2.5 months (sadly because of the holidays I couldn't go any faster). I have redone the beginning a few times. I have redone chapters, cut any purple prose I didn't notice before, tightened my writing, made my villain better, and my POV's stronger. And I couldn't have done it without my new CP who was at the same retreat and offered her help in my new goal. My friend, and ANWA buddy, Ann Acton, has been the marsh to my mallow.

On January 19th of this year, I finished my newest round of edits, and sent the remaining chapters to my CP.The name even changed a few times, ending with DAUGHTERS OF ASH, which is super relevant to the story. And I am excited! I know we have much to do, and possibly even areas to consider deleting, especially once she found out there are Valkyries in the story. Haha! But I don't know what the future will hold for this book. I don't know if it will ever get published, as I'm solely looking for traditional publishing at this time, but I'm going to keep fighting for my words to be out there and keep positive.

READING: THE LAST NAMSARA by Kristen Ciccarelli, SOULMATED by Shaila Patel, and almost done with A FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS by Julie C. Dao

FINISHED READING:  CITY OF SAINTS AND THIEVES by Natalie C. Anderson, a Congo refugee on the hunt for her mother's murderer. I read a lot, I like a lot of books, but there are a select few I will just stay up all night for...this was one of them. READ THIS BOOK!!!

Love your guts,

-Tammy-

Monday, January 8, 2018

Characters that Speak, Not the Author

As I've worked on my editing rounds from my YA Viking book, I am in the heads of three of the older sisters, as it is told in 3 points of view. Recently, my CP pointed out something to me that I had not even REALIZED I was doing - not speaking from my character's view.

For instance, there were a few times when I was writing as the author, as if I was in heaven and showing the angels what was happening, rather than them looking at it from the character's

perspective. I wondered then how many times throughout the book I had done this. It's easy not to catch because you will likely get so caught up in the story you don't see it or realize you're even doing it. You really have to proactively search for it. But IT IS THERE! Like a snake in the grass - oh my gosh it is there!!

Maybe this is hard to understand what exactly I mean, but maybe a few "for instances" will be helpful.

The author's head: The land was green and rich, lively and serene with birds flying wildly.
The character's head: Lush and lively land covered the earth for miles, more than Amy could imagine or had ever seen. The birds flew wild, much like the ones in her dreams, making her heart pulse with excitement.

The author's head: He wore a beaded necklace, sneakers, and board shorts like a surfer or a skater.
The character's head: His beaded necklace, sneakers, and board shorts made Amy swoon. There was nothing more than a skater slash surfer look that teased her senses, and blushed her cheeks quick.

The most important part of extracting and re-writing these areas, is to really think like the character. See it from their eyes and emotions. We normally see things and pin it to something else in our past, or judge it in some way. It is human nature, and if your character has any human or humanistic qualities, ensure they do the same! It definitely makes them relatable to the reader!

READS THIS WEEK:  AND I DARKEN by Kiersten White, a series opener with the premise of what Vlad the Impaler would be like if female. The story is very gritty and I enjoyed it! LGBTQ friendly. THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas, a standalone turned movie, with the premise of social/racial injustice. Other than the amount of cussing (which is part of the reason I put it down and then later gave it a 2nd chance), it really does speak out and speak up.

READING NOW: A NIGHT DIVIDED by Jennifer Nielsen, LONG WAY DOWN by Jason Reynolds. I have a couple library and home books to figure out which to start first as I generally read 2-3 books at a time. It's a toss up between SOULMATED, THE LAST NAMASARA, and CITY OF SAINTS AND THIEVES.

MOVIES WATCHED: KING ARTHUR - it was really good, and I loved how they did the talking while showing it already being done. You will have to see the movie to understand what I mean.THE SHACK - my heart cried a million times over just like when I read the book.

Love your guts,

-Tammy-

Monday, January 1, 2018

2018 - the Year of the Warrior

2017 was a crazy, emotional year for me. On January 19th, I began writing a YA Viking fantasy, finishing it in March at 120k words. I was very proud of how quick I had written a book I'd felt so passionate about. Characters came out of the woodwork. Magic I had never attempted before, began to be written. Romance. All sorts of ... things I had never tried to write, were being written. With prayers and faith, I was steadfast in the work. By the end of the year, after not making it in to Pitch Wars after 4 requests for manuscripts from mentors, and after a few agent rejections, a few requests that ended in rejections, and an amazing writer retreat where I met Jennifer Nielsen and got personal sage advice on my query and 1st chapter pages - I began the journey again.

At the end of October, I went back to my book after a few weeks break and rewrote my beginning pages with a new scene (3x now as of a week ago). I rewrote my 4th chapter beginning. I rewrote or cut or shortened the heck out of many words, sentences, and paragraphs. I revamped. And I am still revamping. But this time, something really hit me.

The girls I am writing, the six daughters of a Warrior King, are just that - WARRIORS.

Maybe they are shy, stubborn, earthy, bossy, tomboy-like, but one thing I do know is I am putting them through hell AND high water and they are turning into warriors before my very eyes, and by my very hands. And not just in the sense of fighters, but in the sense of so much more. They honor their family, their people, their Norse gods. They stand for what they know is true and right. They attempt what shouldn't be attempted - crumbling a honored patriarchy system.

Through them, I am discovering how I need to warrior-up and take things more head on. How I need to say no and be okay with saying no when all I really want to do is say no. How I need to take time for myself doing things that keep my faith strong. How I need to foster the relationships in my life that make me feel good about myself. How I need to worry less about silly things and more about important things. How I need to make this book my biotch and get it exactly where I feel it belongs - on a shelf in a bookstore being stared at by a girl looking for something to escape her reality for just a moment. Or a few hundred pages :)

That is why this year I am making it the YEAR OF THE WARRIOR. It will be my word. I will be my reminder. It will be my mantra.

What about you? If you could define this new beginning to one word, what would it be? 

Love your guts,

-Tammy-