Thursday, March 29, 2012

Guest Author : Elicia M. Seawell - Writing Towards Friendship

Words flow so easily sometimes for me. I could sit down and write 5, 10, 20,000 words a week and though that may seem like a lot of work, it is getting easier to do so. I’ve found ways to work around writer’s block by breaking up the monotonous feeling you get when working on a project. However, there are those times when you wonder how on earth you can get past that brick wall standing 200 feet tall in front of you and stretches for miles.

Then something miraculous happens. You meet a fellow writer who has gone through the same thing and they offer advice. Before you realize it, you’ve not only made a friend, but a partner in crime that can give you the truth that you can handle. I have four amazing writer friends that do just that.

In the early part of 2009 I came across a dear friend, we’ll call her JP, who held the same kind of obsession with Twilight as I did. She introduced me to the world of TwiFic and since then, my life has never been the same. Then I found my friend CB who came to find out was not only someone I knew from my high school years but her husband and I went to school together. She eventually became my beta and then the editor of all my works. Then came KM and TLFF. Before I knew what was taking place I had four friends, all writers who wrote with a passion and loved it for what it was, a craft.

In the past three years I’ve met some of the most amazing people who love writing just as much as I do. They offer advice, friendship, virtual hugs when they can’t be there for real and are my cheering section. Life does get in the way sometimes and even though it’s hard to keep up with these ladies and their lives, I know that they are still there, cheering me on.

Recently I was signed for a short story coming out in May entitled A Charleston Love Story. It’s publishing through Rebel Ink Press’ Memorial Day Anthology and in the process I met Kate. She befriended me on Twitter and we’ve become amazing writing buddies and friends. I’ve never felt so appreciated for wanting this job of “author” so bad in my life, and Kate shared that sentiment exactly.

In a world where everyone fends for themselves and “it’s all about me,” I’d have to say that in the publishing world, especially the smaller publishing houses and indie publishers, there is a lot of love to be shared. I see it every single day on my Twitter feed as others are retweeting each other’s books to help a fellow author out. That right there makes it worth the work when you know that people are looking out for you and will help you.

My biggest wish for everyone who works hard to write and promote their work is all the success in the world. Most importantly though, I wish them friendship and happiness.

Many thanks to Elicia for being my very first guest blogger! Rebel Ink Press will be releasing her short story this May and you can find out about her previously published works on her blog.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday : Worst Movie Adaptations

This past weekend I had the pleasure of seeing The Hunger Games and I was pleasantly surprised by how closely the film followed the book that I love so much. Since not too many film adaptations of books turn out as well as The Hunger Games, I give you my top ten worst movie adaptations.
10. Message in a Bottle

Story lines are changed, characters are played very one-dimensionally and this movie is an all-around bust. With the exception of my undying love for Paul Newman this movie was a severe disappointment in relation to the wonderful book it stems from.

9. Lolita (1962)

I adore this book and I also adore its 1997 film adaptation.Plenty of people enjoy Stanley Kubrick’s take and many would argue that since Nabokov helped write the screenplay, he liked it as well. It is my personal opinion that this movie does the book no justice and misses the mark completely.

8. The Scarlet Letter (1995)

I’ll steal a fitting line from one of my favorite movies Easy A, “To say this one is freely adapted is a bit of an understatement Govna!”And it’s true. To take a classic and ruin it like this is a tragedy.

7. My Sister’s Keeper

If you haven’t read the book then you might’ve liked the movie. If you did read the book then you probably wanted to throw your popcorn at the screen by the end. Changing endings is a bad idea Hollywood! Especially when the book has very loyal followers.

6. Something Borrowed

John Krasinski, thank you for slightly saving this movie.The weight of the story line never comes across in the film. I didn’t have the same sympathy I had for Rachel and Dex while reading the book. Darcy should be a brunette (just saying). Though minor plot points were changed (irritatingly so) this movie just didn’t do right by the book. I kind of hope they don’t make Something Blue.

5. Twelve

Maybe it’s pretty boy Chace Crawford or maybe it’s the fact that the entire film just seems like it’s trying too hard but I can’t say this is even a halfway decent adaptation. The book is raw and engaging and the movie is…not.

4. Watchmen

Once again I was told to read this by my comic-obsessed husband and was thrilled by it. The movie was undeniably gorgeous and used notonly amazing technology and effects but great actors as well. Unfortunately the film doesn’t nearly begin to cover the heady story and I was sorely disappointed by the changed ended.

3. How the Grinch Stole Christmas

You’ve got to be fricking kidding me with this movie. How a children’s book can be so horribly botched is baffling to me.

2. White Oleander

I read this book in high school and devoured it! It had richly depicted characters and a gripping plot following a young girl whose mother goes to prison for murder. The movie was packed with star power and a great up and coming actress but it fell so flat. Characters got merged and left out. The entire movie felt so surface compared to the book.

1. Twilight

We are all thinking it. Kristen Stewart can’t smile, can’t deliver a line without huffing and acts like a robot. I never once during the movie felt like Bella and Edward were in love. And I found it somewhat off-putting when the movie tried to force us to believe that these two awkward people were star-crossed lovers. There are a handful of scenes that seem close enough to what I imagined when I was reading but mostly I consider this movie a companion piece rather than an adaptation. It's sequels aren't much better. But seriously, flying from tree to tree? Spider monkey?! WTF.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Blog Hop

Today I'm doing my very first guest appearance on a blog! Fellow Rebel writer Elicia Seawell asked if I would post for her.

She is a total doll and is about to be published by Rebel this May! Check out her blog for my post as well as info on her work.

E. M. Seawell's Blog

Friday, March 23, 2012

Caitlyn Duffy : The Author Interview

I was lucky enough to connect with the author of The Treadwell Academy Series Caitlyn Duffy via Twitter (@caitlyn_duffy) and she was gracious enough to grant little old me an interview! Check it out
Tell us a little bit about yourself growing up.
I went to elementary school in LA and by junior high, my family had started moving around a lot, so much that sometimes my brother and I would go to three different schools during the course of one year. By high school, I was really desperate for some stability and I begged to go to boarding school so that I could just be in one place for four years and make some friends. It was really expensive, and I was definitely an anomaly among my classmates as far as my parents' income level.

Do you have a day job?
These days, I have a day job; I'm a copywriter at an advertising agency that specializes in pharmaceutical products, so I spend my days writing ads about psoriasis and macular degeneration (it's very glamorous stuff, let me assure you).

How long have you been writing?
It had always been my dream to somehow get into children's entertainment. Basically, I had been toiling away for about seven years writing boring ads for medical conferences and putting my heart and soul into creative writing at night. I had built up a pretty massive collection of manuscripts in various stages of completion, and spent two or three years doing the whole query process.

What was the querying/publishing process like for you?
Querying was dreadful for me.  I always would hear back from agents that they didn't identify with Taylor, that they weren't really looking for anything that wasn't paranormal, etc. I think I received the same response that a lot of writers hear these days; which is all valid and fair because publishing is a business, and editors think they know what will sell in any given quarter. It's hard not to take rejection personally, though.  Fortunately, two former colleagues of mine from digital advertising were starting a new venture about a year ago that explores literature for kids, delivery via e-books and how digital accessibility is changing children's appetite for literature and our perception of storytelling. That venture became Lovestruck Literary, LLC (my publishing company) and the owners, Lauren and Alex, asked if I'd be willing to allow them to use some of my writing as an experiment in pricing models. It was a big decision, because I knew if I released the Treadwell Academy books with a micropublisher - especially if we released the first book free of cost - I'd effectively be ending any possibility of a big publishing company ever wanting to touch my work. But I'd have to say looking back on the last few months of watching Book #1 blow up in terms of reader response that I'm really happy that I trusted them to publish it. Otherwise, it would still be on my hard drive collecting dust!

It seems your personal experience with boarding school inspired you to start the Treadwell Academy series, does that mean you were rubbing elbows with a real rock star's daughter?

Oddly, no! The daughters of actors & actresses, yes... the daughters of politicians yes, but no rock stars' daughters come to mind (and I tend not to share which boarding schools I attended - there were two, one more famous than the other). What really inspired me about my boarding school experience was the interactions that girls have between the ages of 13 and 18. Whether you're a celebrity or not, emotions run so high during those years, and girls can be so unreasonably mean. The celebrity angle on the series, quite honestly, was added because I know that teen readers (in the U.S., especially) find celebrities and the lives of the wealthy to be more interesting than the lives of regular people. So while the books are about rich girls, the subject matter always boils down to very simple topics like having parents who let you down, jealousy with friends, not understanding why boys can be such idiots.

Will there be/is there already a Treadwell student that is autobiographical?

They're all a little autobiographical. With Taylor's story, I wrote about the difficulty of gaining acceptance from a step-parent and falling in love for the first time with someone who has a lot of emotional damage. With Grace's story, I wrote about how painful it can be if your beliefs differ from those of your parents, which is a broad topic, but anyone who has grown up in a very religious household can probably identify with how hard it is to establish your own boundaries. In Emma's story, which hasn't been released yet, she struggles significantly with body image disorders, which is certainly something that I dealt with at that age. None of the characters are purely autobiographical because I'm afraid my own life has been pretty boring.

What/ who inspires you?

From a writing standpoint for kids, definitely Lois Lowry and Sarah Dessen. I admire Reese Witherspoon and Drew Barrymore enormously for being female producers in Hollywood and aspiring to do so much more than act. My mom inspires me daily. She has, throughout her lifetime, had more energy for more projects than anyone else I have ever met. Whenever I feel like being lazy or giving up on something, I know my mother is halfway across the country, no matter what hour it is, perfecting some arts & craft project. She only operates at warp speed.

What genre of writing would you love to try but never have?

Paranormal or dystopian, since those are the hot genres right now. But I don't know if I have any dark stories in me. I like ice cream,  funny dogs and fancy handbags too much to get my head around the apocalypse.

What advice would you give to others who have a creative dream that maybe doesn't fall in line with their day-to-day careers?
Someone at one of my worst advertising jobs once gave me the best advice ever: "Quit complaining and work." And it's so true. At the time, I really bristled upon hearing that. It's the easiest thing in the world to feel overwhelmed by a day job and get home at night and be creatively drained. The only thing you can do - really, the only thing, unless you're lucky enough to have a rich spouse or find some kind of insanely lucrative freelance work - is just put your head down and put whatever you can into your craft whenever you have the time.

What do you do to prepare yourself before writing? How do you get in the right head space? How do you overcome the dreaded writer's block?
When I sit down to write, I re-read the last few pages where I left off to try to remember what I was thinking. I'm a runner, and I try to run at least four times a week. While that has really nothing to do with writing, I find that whenever I'm not running regularly, my writing suffers. My head is a lot cloudier and I get more easily distracted when I'm supposed to be focused. So, if I sit down to write and the words aren't coming, I know it's time to go to the gym in the morning.

How many books do you have planned for the Treadwell Academy Series?
Right now there are three books completed (Taylor, Grace, Emma). I have an outline developed for a book about Lauren and Alyssa, about half of a book written about Juliette, and a few pages of a side project about Betsey Norfleet. But kids on Wattpad are demanding a Taylor sequel, so that may take priority over everything else.

Was there ever a time you felt like giving up? If so, what changed your mind?

Oh yes, I felt like giving up all the time!  After I wrote the Taylor book I felt like I had really written something unique and poignant even though it is a genre that's been done to death. I got rejection after rejection, and at a time when I was working at a day job that was slowly draining away my will to live.  Honestly, even allowing Lauren and Alex to take the book and run with it was kind of a version of me giving up, like saying, "Oh well, no one is ever going to read these books anyway, so just take them." Without a doubt, the reviews that the book has been receiving from anonymous raters on iTunes and from readers on Wattpad have given me a completely different attitude about my work. I had decided with the help of Lauren and Alex that having my work read was more important to me than getting a six-figure book deal, and nothing is better than receiving email from young readers telling me how much they loved the book.

Since you are currently writing YA do you feel locked into that genre?
I do feel a little locked into the genre, but for now, that's OK with me because I feel like I have a lot of subject matter to explore with this audience.

What do you enjoy reading? How do you find new authors to read?
I will admit to reading a lot of YA because I like to see what other authors are up to. I really like Maggie Stiefvater's work. I am totally all over the map when it comes to reading material, though. I live a few blocks away from a great book store in Brooklyn called Book Court and I typically find new authors' work there; they have great employee recommendations. I also follow Publishers Weekly and I'm always curious to read work by any first time author.

And lastly, a fun one! What is your current obsession (absolutely anything)?
I am ashamed to admit that anyone who follows me on Twitter knows that I'm more than a little obsessed with AMC's The Walking Dead.  Also, Jennifer Aniston perfume. That stuff smells so good, I wish I could use it as breath freshener.

Many, many thanks to Caitlyn for chatting with me! I have to admit, somehow being a part of 'the club' now as a fellow author has me a little geeked out!

Be sure to pick up the first two books in The Treadwell Academy Series here :  The Rock Star's Daughter and The Believer's Daughter

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Book Review : The Rock Star's Daughter

To those who know me it’s no secret that I am a sucker for a good YA novel, and better yet, a YA series. Hello Sweet Valley, Twilight, Hunger Games and the little known Making Out Series. Lucky for me I was recently recommended The Rock Star's Daughter. The lovely first novel of Caitlyn Duffy and first in the Treadwell Academy series.

When Taylor isn't away at her New England prep school she is home in Los Angeles with her wreck of a mother who is constantly boozing it up and partying the night away. Taylor essentially parents herself in the emotional and supportive absence of her mom until the day her mother dies abruptly.

Having only met her famous musician father a handful of times, Taylor's world is turned on it's head as she is sent to live the summer on tour with him, his vegan fashionista wife and their five year old daughter.

From meeting boys to breaking the rules and trying her best to figure out just who she really is, it's a true coming of age story that includes all the best and worst parts of being a teen girl.

I was so enthralled with this story I only wish it would’ve been around when I was in high school. Caitlyn Duffy’s writing is fresh, her characters are relatable and the world of the band Pound is exciting and pretty irresistible. A great, fun read for young adult and wishing-they-were-young adult readers! Duffy is definitely one to watch, can't wait to read more great work from her.

Pick up The Rock Star's Daughter by Caitlyn Duffy here

Book 2 in the Treadwell Academy Series is already out and I can hardly wait to start! Get The Believer's Daughter by Caitlyn Duffy here

Check back here tomorrow to read my personal interview with the author!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday : Book Covers I Dig

They say not to judge a book by it's cover but we all do it. I passed Twilight countless times at the bookstore, always glancing at it's alluring cover wondering what it might be about before I finally picked it up. Recommendations are a great way to find a book to read but there's something to be said for judging a book by it's cover and being happily surprised by what's inside.

10. Blankets by Craig Thompson
I fought Adam on this recommendation for a while because it's a graphic novel and I wasn't on board just yet. But I couldn't resist to cover. The drawings, the color, the simplistic nature of it. All of it sucked me in. Fantastic book!

9. Beastly by Alex Finn
My theme, you'll notice, is I love simplistic covers. Looking at this cover, if you know anything about fairy tales, you don't even need to read the back. It's clearly a take on Beauty and The Beast. From the rose to the thorny font to the title itself. It makes a clear statement.

8. Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay
Clearly dark, potentially violent from the looks of it and yet it's smiling at you. A perfect cover for good old Dexter, your friendly neighborhood serial killer.

7. Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi
This cover gives me chills. Maybe it's the font or the harsh red on black. Or maybe it's because I know what's inside. Either way, it's a frightening looking cover fit for a frightening account.

6. Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann
This isn't the cover I own (mine is a movie tie-in that is still pretty cool) but I just love it! Bold title and the sprinkling of all the little pills (or dolls rather).

5. Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin
Once again my love of simplicity has me taken with this one. Love the lowercase font and honestly I've always been fond of seeing 'a novel' put below a title. Seriously, read this book. Don't see the movie.

4. Summer and the City by Candace Bushnell
This is book two in the Carrie Diaries series. I've yet to read it but I adore this cover. The best part is something you'll have to trek to Barnes & Nobel for, it's the way it feels. It's textured to feel like a stitched leather purse! Book one has a similar cover but this far surpasses it.

3. Alice In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll Illustrated by John Tenniel
This isn't the original cover it's a 1986 version but it's the version that I like best. John Tenniel's drawings throughout the entire book are fantastic and iconic and I just love that the cover is in color. My girlfriend is a teacher and has a poster of Tenniel's Alice drawings in her classroom and she calls it her stoner detector! So true, so true. 

2. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Gatsby couldn't stay off of my top ten lists if he tried! I don't know what to say about this cover besides the fact that I LOVE it! It's such a beautiful drawing, so haunting and yet inviting. Sigh, I love it.

1. Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk
When I first got this book I couldn't wait to read it due to it's cover. The simplicity (of course) of the line drawing of a beauty queen marred by a splattering of what...? Paint? Blood? Makeup? I had to find out! READ THIS BOOK! 

Friday, March 16, 2012

What's In A Name?

...that which we call a rose. By any other name would smell as sweet. Hopefully you all know that one. Little guy named Bill Shakespeare?

So really what is in a name, do names really matter in writing? I would imagine they do seeing as how many of them become iconic. Harry Potter is simply a name, but isn’t it so much more than that? If the little wizard boy had been named Jim Smith it might have had some trouble catching on. Jim Smith and the Chamber of Secrets sounds more like spy thriller than a children’s fantasy.

Names stand out to me and they always have. It’s the first thing that is truly ours when we are born. It’s the thing that’s with us our entire lives.  For years I’ve been making lists of names either for my hypothetical children or my fictional children, aka my characters. I personally can’t properly write if I don’t have my names all ready to go. Even minor character’s names keep me up at night if they aren’t just right.

I care about my characters and I feel that by giving them meaningful names they might have a better chance at connecting. Name meanings are a big part of my process. In high school I bought a big hardback purple book called The Character Naming Sourcebook. It’s essentially my Bible and the very first place I go before writing a single word of a story.

If I’m writing about a dark and mysterious girl there’s no way I would name her Lucy (meaning ‘light’). If I have a villainous character they won’t get a name that has any time of kind meaning attached to it.

It could be that names don’t really matter to readers but I think that names matter to the world. Hopefully hiding in my mind somewhere there is a Harry Potter, a Holden Caulfield, a Carrie or an Atticus Finch just waiting to be written.

If you need helping naming your characters or if you’re curious about the names of some of your favorite characters from books check out

Fun fact about the soon to be released novel, The Low Notes : The name of my male lead character Kevin means ‘handsome’ and 'kind' and the female lead Nina’s name means ‘young girl’.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday : Books Of My Teen Years

10. Lolita By Vladamir Nabokov. My obsession started with a random viewing of the Showtime version of the movie. I saw Jeremy Irons and it was all over. So I picked up the audio book read by Mr. Irons himself (on Cassette tape, mind you. My husband has since replaced it with the CDs God bless him) and started listening at night to the book that I have now read at least five times since then. My take on the book has changed over time. When I was seventeen it seemed totally normal, young girl seduces older man. Hot. Now when I read it I get the "Oh's" pretty bad. Like "Oooh I get it, he's a creep." Never the less Lolita (among other books on this list) started my age-difference infatuation and my love of good prose.

9. Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger. If there’s one thing I was feeling as a teenager it was angsty. So very, very angsty. Holden made me feel less alone in that angst and actually made me feel like I didn’t really have any problems if I compared myself to him. The perfect read for high school students.

8. Summer Sisters by Judy Blume. The epitome of a beach read and the first book I read with anything close to resembling a sex scene.

7. Twelve by Nick McDonell. What can you say about White Mike? He's a privileged girl from the Midwest suburbs' dream, that's what. If you haven't read this book I highly recommend it. DO NOT watch the horrendous movie starring the adorable but not at all well-cast Chace Crawford. I didn't even make it through the first hour before I was ready to just reread the book and curse Netflix. Twelve was the first book that didn’t make me feel so alone in my style of writing short chapters. If it only needs to be one sentence then so be it!

6. The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks. This wasn’t my first romance but it was truly the first book that made me feel like I knew what it was to fall in love. If you haven’t read this book you are living under a rock or you are a man.

5. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The book in high school that I was required to read and then went and bought my own copy because I knew it needed to be on my shelf for my entire life.

4. Dracula by Bram Stoker. The original vampire himself! Before Twilight made teen girls go all giggly for glittery Edward, I was devouring Dracula at rapid speed freshman year. My love of vampires was very evident in high school starting with this heavy read. I later took a stab at Anne Rice and ultimately settled on weekly viewings of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Who knew that vampires would make such a comeback in the late 2000s? If only I had had the reading selection that's out there now...but more on that on another Tuesday.

3. Zoey Fools Around (Book One in the Making Out Series) by Katherine Applegate. I will never forget walking into Walden Books (yeah...) with my best friend Maggie and us both being drawn to the same cover. From the title alone we knew it was for us. We each bought a copy and that night at Maggie’s house we stayed up all night reading the entire book...out loud! I had to be the boy parts and she was all the girls and we alternated reading pages. We ended up reading the first twelve books over the next few years and then I did something so stupid in college. I was broke so I took all of my books to a used bookstore to get some cash and then a few years later I couldn’t find this series anywhere! Lucky for me I have a phenomenal husband who tracked down every missing book for me for Christmas a few years ago. These books changed my life and made me want to write.

2. Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare. Enough said, right?

1. Innocents by Cathy Coote. By seventeen I already had the seedling in my mind for what would eventually become The Low Notes. I picked this book up because of it’s scandalous cover and I had no clue the bombshell of a story I would find. The intense and at times disturbing story of the two unnamed main characters only fueled my passion for writing, reading and for one day telling my own version of the teacher/student romance.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Dream Come True

It was roughly 1:40 in the afternoon and I was yet again obsessively checking my email on my phone. When you're waiting on an important email there is nothing worse than seeing '15% off at Old Navy' in your inbox. But I was starting to get used to it. I was getting used to not sleeping, to thoughts racing and to mild anxiety throughout the day.

Then the email I had been waiting for finally came. A publishing contract for my novel. My baby. I'll admit it freely, I cried. I hugged my husband and started sending about a million text messages to my friends and family who had supported me through the whole process.

Throughout the day is when it really started to hit me. Author. I was suddenly and from then on, considered an author. The waves of realization were coming quickly. People would be reading it. My family would read it. My clients would read it. Strangers would read it.

The butterflies definitely began to stir. But aside from the nerves there was such excitement I could hardly stand it. I wanted to shout it from the rooftops, roll my car window down and tell every person that happened to be next to me at a stoplight.

"Excuse me, I'm freaking getting my novel published, have a good day!"

Literally having a dream come true is something I had only experienced once. My wedding day. And even in that instance it hadn't always been the same dream. My wedding day had evolved in my mind over time and then only solidified as a vision once I met my husband and started seriously planning.

This dream however, the dream of my writing published, my name on a book, it's always been the same. And now it's real!

So stay tuned people, The Low Notes is coming soon from Rebel Ink Press and I couldn't be happier! Thanks to everyone who supported me, encouraged me, left me alone to write, inspired me and anyone who simply cared. It has meant so much and now I can honestly say that dreams do come true.