Thursday 31 May 2012

An Editor's Golden Touch...

Do you want to know how to make your manuscript stronger? Polished? Close to publication? Psst…I can help with that. Correction—my editor, Kathy Teel, can help with that. Read on…

·         The word "as" is not your friend. It is almost never your best choice. In any ms, find all occurrences of it and cut at least half. This is especially true when it occurs near a dialogue tag.

·         You don't need both an action tag and a dialogue tag. For example: Jojo sneered at him, saying, "That was helpful." Those should look like this: Jojo sneered. "That was helpful." (this is where many of those words were cut)

·         Dialogue tags go after the first clause in the dialogue, not at the end, unless it's a short bit of dialogue and we know exactly who's speaking. "Thanks," Monkey said. "You never know when you're going to need an antique bassoon."

·         Avoid adverbs, especially around dialogue tags. "I hate you, you big fat jerk!" Merry screamed furiously. No, really, he's furious? We got that from the dialogue AND the verb (scream), you don't have to beat us with it by adding on an adverb.

·         People don't usually use each others' names very much when speaking together.

·         A sentence with 2 independent clauses does not have a comma: My daughter turned on Dr. Who and her friend rolled her eyes. NOT: My daughter turned on Dr. Who, and her friend rolled her eyes.

·         Use "said" 95% of the time. Delete your thesaurus' entry for the word "said," and don't use replacement words for it, except in very rare absolutely necessary cases.

·         Don't use dialogue tags at all unless it's otherwise unclear who's speaking. If you need to indicate who's speaking, try to use an action tag instead of a dialogue tag: Jingle jumped out of his chair. "I know that elf!"
That’s it. Well, not all. There’s always something when it comes to polishing and gleaning your manuscript to share with the world. The above sage advice was passed on to me because I made these common mistakes. So I thought I’d share them so that any writer reading this may in turn, better their best.

Image: 123RF Stock 11295853

Monday 28 May 2012

Knowing Your Audience Is Key...

One of my chosen “mentor” authors is Rick Riordan. Love his brand, love his series, love the way he writes. He makes no bones about the fact that his Percy Jackson & The Olympians, The Kane Chronicles, and Heroes of Olympus series are written for kids. Yet adults love them just as much. Never mind the fact that he has written for adults too, but it’s his middle grade books that seem to have taken off and put him on the bestselling author map. This is the person I’d like to aspire to. Well, J.K. Rowling too, but that’s another post!

In one of Riordan’s blog posts, he writes:
“Some writers will say that they don’t have any audience in mind when they write. They write solely for themselves, or for posterity, or because they are driven internally to tell the story. That’s all fine and legitimate. But as a teacher, I always drove home one thing to my writing students: You must have a sense of audience. Who are you writing for? You can’t expect a business inquiry to be written the same as a letter to your friend. Nor should you expect a college physics textbook to be written the same way as a fairy tale book for elementary students. Audience, for this writer, is critically important. I would submit that it’s important to any writer. It’s a fundamental element of good communication. You should always be mindful and considerate of your audience.”

 So how does Riordan do this?

“I do this primarily by knowing my audience -- writing for them and to them. What does that mean? Writing with a strong plot, for one thing. Writing about characters that kids can relate to. Writing with humor and suspense to keep the pages turning. Writing as clearly as I can, so the sentence structure flows well when read aloud, and the prose becomes a smooth-running vehicle to deliver the story. And, like myths, my stories repeat familiar patterns – the hero’s quest, in particular.”

Riordan finds writing for kids much more challenging than he does for adults. Kids care about the characters. Imagine themselves in the settings. And always want something to happen. So when I sit down to plot, plan, and produce the first thing I think of is my audience. Then I ask, will this story work for kids? Not just for the book worms, but the reluctant readers too. And if I get a green light, then I’m off to the races!

Sunday 20 May 2012

The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis Blog-tastic Book Tour

Whew! I had quite the celebration over this past weekend enjoying the book release of my mid-grade/YA time travel series. And the fun is just getting started. Please join me on the dates and blogs below, as I take The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis on the virtual road…

·         May

·         May 22nd

·         May 23rd

·         May 24th

·         May 25th

·         May 26th

So there you have it. Six days. Six blogs. Six fantastic bloggers. Surf by and find out what my five favorite picks are for time travel books, movies, and television shows, as well as an author interview on Codelia Dinsmore’s blog. The book blog tour will be over before you know it, so please join me if you can! Cheers and happy reading!

Friday 18 May 2012

Book Release! Baby, You're A Firework...

Woo hoo! It’s here, after sixteen years of dreaming of being a published author, it’s finally here! The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis is now released as an ebook! I’ve put a lot of thought into what I wanted to do for this special blog post. First, because it’s Victoria Day weekend here in Canada—I used to call it Firecracker Day Weekend when I was a little girl—I’d like to start off with a happy, enthusiastic song, compliments of Katy Perry…

Next, I’d like to announce the winner of The Last Timekeepers Series Kick-Off Contest as chosen by Rafflecopter. Drum roll please…and the winner is Rachel Marks! Congratulations, Rachel!
Third, and finally, I wanted to include what I had written for the Dedication and Acknowledgements section in my book because it’s so important to be grateful to those people who have supported me throughout this venture, and will most likely continue to do so in the future. So, without further ado, here’s the icing on my proverbial cake:

For Michael. My partner, my pillar, my post.

Life is a team effort. Period. Nothing is done without the help and support of others. The following people are in some way connected to the fabric of this work, to which I am eternally grateful:
Thank you to the staff at Musa Publishing, who have made this debut as painless as possible and have given me a chance to shine. Special thanks to my editor Kathy Teel, who through her patience and prodding, helped whipped my words into shape and substance. To my book designer Coreen Montagna, and my cover artist Kelly Shorten, whose creative visualization gave my book a presence in this the world.

Thank you to my family: my hubby Mike, my mother Margaret, my children Michelle, Jennifer, and Brandon. And to my brothers Gregg and Ian, who’ve given me lots of writer-fodder throughout our informative years.
Thank you to my prodders and teachers: Mrs. Greer, my seventh grade teacher, Jackie Hart, my BFF, Leslie Colwell, who got me into this mess in the first place, Tom Arnett, my first writing teacher, Barbara White and Sheila Nollert, my writing circle cohorts, Brian Henry, my writer workshop teacher, my first beta-reader Kelsey Bolt and my last beta-reader Kristian Gallant, and all the authors who I have connected with and have supported me in this wonderful venture —you know who you are.

And to my countless relatives and friends who kept asking when they were going to see ‘that’ book. To them, I say, it’s here, it’s finally here!

Friday 4 May 2012

The Last Timekeepers Series Kick-Off Contest

Cheers, it’s Luke Skywalker Day— so, “May the fourth be with you,” everyone! On that note, I wanted to gear up for my middle-grade/YA time travel ebook release, The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis debuting on May 18th through Musa Publishing by kicking off this month with a contest to create mass frenzy. Or at least pique your interest. Plus you could win this stylish sports watch—the same color as my book cover— pictured below, and a copy of my ebook. Are we having fun yet? Hope so!

Okay, the rules are simple and easy: Do one or more of the tasks indicated in the Rafflecopter widget. At the end of the contest—aka launch day—Rafflecopter will choose a winner. Note: Winner is restricted to residents living in either Canada or the United States. The international winner will receive a $10 gift certificate from Musa Publishing. Good luck, readers!

Oh, and if you’re not sure if this book fits your reading tastes:

Here’s the blurb:

When Amanda Sault and her four classmates are caught in a major food fight at school, they are given the choice of suspension or yard duty. It was a no-brainer. A two-week crash course in landscaping leads the kids to discover a weathered stone arch buried in an overgrown backyard. Instead of a forgotten lawn ornament, it turns out to be an ancient time portal from the lost continent of Atlantis. Chosen by an Atlantean Magus to be Timekeepers—legendary time travelers sworn to keep history safe from an evil force—the five children, along with two offbeat adults, are sent on the adventure of their lives to save the Earth from an uncertain future. The Timekeepers’ first mission lands them in England in 1214, where they must find an adolescent Robin Hood and his band of merry teens before history is turned upside-down.

Here’s the excerpt:

Amanda Sault silently studied the words she just scrawled: May 1st, 1214—Games and songs and revelry, act as the cloak of devilry. So that an English legend may give to the poor, we must travel to Nottingham to even the score.
She frowned. She was the Scribe. Amanda knew that meant she was supposed to understand what this riddle meant. But she didn’t have a clue. All she knew was that she, her four annoying classmates, and two offbeat adults were standing in what was left of the lost continent of Atlantis and they were supposed to be the Timekeepers, the legendary time travelers handpicked by destiny to keep Earth’s history safe from evil. But no one had told them how they were supposed to do it.

Their problem: no matter what happened—good or bad—they weren’t supposed to mess with the past. Period. Dot. End of story. Amanda felt hot liquid build in her throat. Her thumb traced the words of the arcane riddle. Their first Timekeeper mission. Amanda knew this wasn’t the end of the story.

This was just the beginning.

And now, let the contest begin…