Tales in Publishing: Playing with Fyr

Tales in Publishing: 
Playing with Fyr 

So I announced a successful #PitMad ages ago (story here) and have been silent about landing a publisher since. The silence did not mean nothing was going on nor was there any drama. My publishers and I have been hard at collaborative work, bringing my book to life.

I'm pleased to announce, my book Fyr, Book 1 of the Celestial Spheres trilogy, will be released to the world on July 14th. Fyr is an upper YA novel that crosses over to adults with a rating of 17+ that older teens and adults can both enjoy. The book is like The Selection meets Poison Study. Toury arrives in Fyr where magic is power, a prince’s love is deadly, and female autonomy is a dream. Prince Alex realizes Toury can break his curse and save his people, but Earth girls aren’t so easy.

So far, so good. I love my editor's ability to get a lot out of me, considering how I put a lot of important stuff off for book two or accidentally left details behind in my mind. It's all been pushed into book one, fleshing it out to create a wonderfully developed world, complex and realistic characters, and a solid plot of twists and turns leaving the reader--I hope--wanting more. We've passed through two edits and now in the last copyediting stage.

We're looking at cover art, discussing pronunciation for the audiobook and choosing voice actors, and formulating the marketing plan. I've reached out to an old college pal to take specific photos for me that my publisher will jazz up to use in marketing. I've never realized how much went into marketing and audiobooks. I'm very excited to hear them do the voices--accents and all.

My publisher creates such a tight-knit community all about collaboration that I know I've chosen the right publisher for me. They are even having my illustrator-husband draw the cover art which makes it mean so much more to me (since this book will be dedicated to him). In all, I'm happy with the publishing path I've chosen; smaller presses really are the best since you get most the support traditional pubs have at no cost and almost the same control you'd get if self-publishing.

I'm so excited to share more, so keep on the lookout for future posts as the release date draws closer.

YA Book Review: War Storm

YA Book Review: 
War Storm

Right, so my fears were well-grounded when it comes to Victoria Aveyard's War Storm. I did not like this book which unfortunately colors my view of the entire series. In all, I'm left with a blah, how-is-this-so-popular? feeling.

The plot of this book continues right after King's Cage where Cal--no surprise here--chooses the crown over Mare. She's brokenhearted and bitter but must work with Cal to defeat Maven and his allies. They struggle with their feelings not able to choose each other over their causes but unable to stay away from each other. There are battles and politics that increase until a final showdown.

If that seems like a short synopsis for a 650+ page book, there's a reason for that and no I'm not avoiding it for spoilers. The book it utterly slow, repetitive, and there is a ton of political filler that is dull. The positives? The battle scenes, the world Aveyard creates has magnificent landscapes and wonderful precision. I just wish there was less fluff between the battles. And speaking of the plot, the ending is terrible. It is anticlimactic and Cal and Mare end up where they always were: on the precipice of a decision that might eventually be made. If you're looking for a HEA or a HFN ending or even a sad ending or any real ending at all, this isn't it. It leaves the reader turning the page and thinking "That's it?"

Aveyard again tries to toy with more points-of-view: Mare, Iris, Maven, Evangeline, and Cal. Again, they all sound like a version of Mare, Maven's fragmented mind not convincing, Iris annoying, Evangeline repetitive, and Cal a simpleton. I had wanted so bad to see Cal's side of things only to be let down that he is stupid. He doesn't notice anything around him or understand courtly politics that he grew up in. I was utterly disappointed in his character. From the outside, he seemed to know things and struggle, but inside she made him empty-headed, the struggle from ignorance not from moral fiber. The biggest flaw of this splintered narrative was the characters like Iris revealing the plan to move against others, so when others are surprised I saw repetition, not dramatic irony. I think if the novel stripped out all narrative except for Mare's we'd have a fantastic fast-paced book with lots of surprises.

Characterization rings false. Lots of plots are left incomplete--like the main romance and the fate of Norta. And the book leaves the reader pretty unsatisfied. I don't regret buying or reading the series, as it was entertaining enough, but I won't suggest it to others.

However, if you do like open-endings and overlapping POVs, you can purchase here.

Tips for Writers: Grammar Woes: Commas (Part 2)

Grammar Woes: 
Commas (Part 2)

A full list of comma rules can be found here.

1. To separate lists

Yes, we all know this one. Pretty simple except for the Oxford comma debate. And Oxford comma is the commas that goes before "and" in the end of a list. Some people leave it out. Some times that is okay, and some times it's downright catastrophic. Here's the thing, using it is rarely wrong, so why not use it? If not this could happen.

2. For places and dates

Yes, we know this one too, but I bet you sometimes forget your second comma. The year or state after a date or town is seen as a parenthetical--anything you can read around where the sentence still makes sense is a parenthetical. Here are some examples:
  • September 11th, 2001, will be remembered as our generation's Pearl Harbor.
  • She's from Orlando, Florida, which is my favorite place to visit.

3. To join sentences (only if they are joined properly with FANBOYS)

Grammar books tell you about dependent clauses, but to simply this, let's just say sentences. You can join them together via comma, but you need help. Without a helping hand, you create a comma splice which actually can confuse your reader. It is one of those mistakes that is notably a mark of unedited writing. I'm not an agent, but guessing one of these puppies in a query letter is tantamount to a cardinal sin.
  • Comma splice She hated strawberries, we wondered why her mother made her a strawberry birthday cake.
  • Corrected She hated strawberries, so we wondered why her mother made her a strawberry birthday cake.
Adding that helping hand, FANBOYS (For And Nor But Or Yet So) corrects this issue. There are other ways to fix this as well--create two sentences, use a semicolon, make one sentence no longer one by stripping it of a subject or verb, or making it no longer one sentence by adding a word that makes it dependent (like adding Because to the front of the first bullet).

The key to avoiding comma splices is to realize what makes a sentence--subject, verb, object, and makes sense on its own. Another trick is the age old "pencil test" which I've renamed the "cursor test." You put a pencil/cursor over your comma and look left and then right. If only one side is a complete sentence, you're good. If both sides are full sentences (without FANBOYS), it's a splice. Make one of the above mentioned moves to correct it.

YA Book Review: King's Cage

YA Book Review: 
King's Cage

So I was about to give up on this series, but they were purchased for my birthday. I was definitely going to see it through now. In short, I'm still torn. This book is not nearly as good as the first one but by far better than the second. I'm happy I read it, but it does have drawbacks. Spoiler alert! See previous two posts here: book 1 or book 2.

The plot of this third installment of the series, King's Cage, sees Victoria Aveyard's storyline continue where it left off: Mare is a prisoner in the palace under Maven's rule. She is forced by the tedium to relive her mistakes and to suffer. Meanwhile, Cal and the Red Guard are recruiting in hopes to overthrow Maven and rescue Mare. At the same time, Maven is using lies and politics to convince new bloods and reds to his side, tearing the kingdom in two. Maven has two wars to fight, while the Guard finds it almost impossible to save Mare or win this war. Things aren't as they seem, though, and assistance comes from unusual places, alliances on both sides are surprising, and it culminates into a huge battle that seems to be the end for one of the sides.

Unfortunately, that kind of is it, which leads to the first issue I had with the book. It was 500 pages of slow pacing, and there wasn't a whole lot of action going on. Hundreds of pages were of Mare being depressed and bored in her room. I was happy to see it, for I like her now. Seeing her suffer after all her self-serving attitude and using people repeatedly tipped the scales. She is still selfish but at least realizes her mistakes. And yet, she still doesn't learn from them. The plot itself repeats book 1: she's stuck in the palace, pines for Cal, wants revenge, and even in the end she depends on Cal to make the right decision and predictably he doesn't. History repeats itself. We're pretty much at the end of book 1 again. The war with Maven still ongoing.

On top of plot repetition, the author uses different points-of-view (POV). I get why, because to just have months of Mare doing nothing would get really old, but it felt like a cop out and forced. We're in Cameron's head only so we can see what is going on with Cal and the Red Guard. I would've loved to be in Cal's head to see how torn he is in every decision he must make, particularly the one in the end. We also get to see inside Evangeline's head. Odd choice too, seemingly done to show us a subplot that might be more important later, but not needed in this book. The largest issue with these POV's were they weren't unique. They were facets of Mare. I often forgot whose head I was in within the chapter because they sound exactly like Mare--Cameron as the bitter angry Mare of book 2, and Evangeline was like Mare from book 1. Evangeline's thoughts are way too kind to align with her outward actions. Irony is not created but a superficiality that does not make me like her. The attempt to humanize her after her treatment of others was overreaching.

Speaking of humanizing, what went well for this book was Aveyard's humanizing of Maven and even Mare who now thinks of others. I think some readers may hate Cal after this book, but I love his struggle and I don't love Mare enough to feel awful for her. It was a frustratingly great ending. The new characters that appear were interesting and well-developed, and more layers are added to this amazing world Aveyard created. The plot twists that weren't predictable, and the huge battle at the end, were well told. Seeing all the new bloods powers was cool, as well as the behind-the-scenes politics, and explanation of where this land really is. The best thing about this book was seeing another side of both Maven and Cal.

I really feel though that this should've been the end of the series. I honestly can't see much but more repetition in book 4 until we finally get an ending of restoring the kingdom and Maven's downfall. After reading book 2 and 3, I feel this should've been a trilogy. I'm hoping though, that by the end, I will end up loving the series as a whole but just wishing it was shorter and less repetitive.

We shall see.

If interested in purchasing, the book can be found here.

Writing Advice: April Fools Edition

Writing Advice: 
April Fools Edition

Sage writing advice here 😉

1) If you're majoring in English or creative writing, change your major, now. 

April fools! Major in what you love. You might be doing it for the rest of your life. People believe those degrees don't equate success because they can't see the big picture or they are way too focused on money rather than a driving passion and happiness.

2) You should put [cliche from a successful novel in similar genre] in the book because people love it! 

April fools! Cliches get overused which is part of the very definition of the word. Just because 50 Shades did it, does not mean we all want to write a similar romance, and authors want to be unique, not copycats.

3) You should write [genre far removed from yours] because I like it and so do a lot of people.

April fools! Write what YOU want. Sorry I'm not sorry, but there's no way I'm going to write thrillers when I have a passion for writing YA romances. Authors write what they love and what they excel at.

4) You can't write from more than one point-of-view, because you're only one person.

April fools! It's called imagination and skill. An author must project out of their own mind to become someone else momentarily--kind of like acting, no? Authors do it well all the time throughout history. Third person full omniscience actually takes on everyone's mind. It is possible to play God.

5) You should take out ALL the adverbs from your manuscript.

April fools! All because the master Stephen King said they were bad, people with poor but kind intentions tell authors to remove them all. They take his message way too far. No, just, no. Learn the difference between good and bad adverbs and take out the "baddies" King was talking about.

6) Stop writing, this is awful, don't quit your day job, or any variation of.  

April fools! Keep writing people! Writing is subjective, there is no right and wrong (except grammar, maybe), so when someone gives you a negative opinion, it's just that. An opinion. For them to do so without proper constructive criticism of how to help you improve, well, they're just an [enter your favorite expletive]. Get rid of them--from your life, not literally.

What would you add to the list? Please comment below!


Tales in Publishing: Query example

Tales in Publishing:  Query example I'm sharing my successful query to others in hopes it exemplifies what to do and helps other au...