Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Authors and Their Blogs/Websites!

I'm all about networking. It's the best way to do things, especially as authors. So, I'm creating a list of author blogs/websites on my site. If you'd like to be listed, I need the following information from you:

Your name (name you're published under, or want to be published under)
Published? Represented? (give me your representative's url. You don't have to be rep'd to be on the list)
Blog url?
Website url?

Comment on this post with the above info, and I'll do the rest! (Will delete your comment as soon as I've updated my website.)
Here's how it'll look:

Pearson, Andrea. Rep. YA. Blog. Website

Easy, peasy! Oh, and if you don't have a blog or a website, just leave that info blank. I do need one or the other, however. And, if I were already published, instead of "Rep," it would say "Pub," or nothing if neither. Remember, you don't have to have already been published to be on the list. :-)

The point of all of this is so we can follow each other and keep up with favorite authors and author friends. Networking is such a huge tool - we need to be using it more often! I don't want to add people unless they give me permission to do so, by the way. Unless you're J.K. Rowling or something like that, where finding this info on you is already easy, and we know you won't mind. :-)

Can't wait to get this started! :-)

Edit: It looks like some people aren't able to comment for some reason. Send me an email (ap AT andreapearsonbooks DOT com) instead, with "Author List" in the subject line.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Why Do I Need a Critique Group?

This is a question I had asked myself for a very, very long time. How would a critique group help me? Would it be a waste of time? Would I leave irritated with the other members? Would it be satisfying - a good mixture of humiliation and "building up"?

I'm a very skeptical and analytical person and almost always prefer to do things on my own. I use the internet, read books, follow cool people on twitter who send out writing tips, and peruse other people's blogs rather than drive to a specific place (gas is expensive!) to get help. I naturally shy away from things that wouldn't be mutually beneficial, and I never saw a regularly-meeting critique group as accomplishing anything really worthwhile.

Well, now I can happily say I was wrong. :-)

I vaguely remember the first time I attended a critique group meeting. Actually, I haven't had the chance to forget it yet, since it was only two weeks ago. :-) And let me tell you, it was WORTH the time. We read samples of our writing, commented and critiqued, and it was very beneficial. (Course, I'm speaking for myself. :-) David West and Graham Bradley might disagree. :-))

T.J. Bronley, our group's putter-togetherer, sent us this article, wherein Chip MacGregor explains how to get the most out of a critique group. If only I'd read it during the year 2008, when I first started writing seriously...

I could go on and on about getting into a group, but would rather you read the article. :-) For those of you who aren't able to make the drive to specific locations, seriously consider using authonomy instead. It really is a great site.

Here are my questions for anyone who happens upon this post:
How long did your longest critique group last?
Have you found them to be beneficial?
How do you choose groups?
Which of the two types Chip MacGregor mentions is yours? (from the article above - under point 1.)
Why do you recommend a critique group?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Perfecting Your Work - Authonomy

Almost a year ago I started searching for people outside of my family to read, edit, comment on, and critique my book, The Key of Kilenya. I was lucky enough to get in touch with Jeff Blackmer, a member of one of my mom's email lists, who pointed me toward one of the best sites I've ever come across as an writer. I'm very passionate about this site (run by HarperCollins) because of all the things with which it helped me. The name of it is...

*Drum Roll* :-)

HarperCollins set it up to help them find more books to publish. Authors critique each other's work - you post at least 10,000 words of your WIP (it's a safe, secure site), and other people read and comment. If they like your work, they "back" it. The more backings a book receives, the higher it rises in the charts. If it's in the top five at the end of the month, HarperCollins will review it (reading the whole thing), and consider it for publication.

My book was pretty ugly before I came across the site. The first chapter was long, boring, and irrelevant. :-) I learned a lot by reading other people's stories, and made a lot of really good friends. One of those friends introduced me to her publisher who is now my publisher.

There are downsides to the site. All comments, messages, etc., are public. This actually prevents people from being really, really rude, but you have to have thick skin. (Which you need to have anyway. :-)) Also, you need to read other people's work in order to get them to read yours. Luckily, you don't have to read their whole book. :-) Most people only go over a couple of chapters. I found that by getting to at least four books a day, I had a steady stream of comments and backings on The Key of Kilenya. My book rose fairly quickly: in 24 hours, it rose from number 11,000, to 775. In three months it had hit #73 (out of 14,000 books). Then I signed with my publisher and pulled the book.

At first it was hard to read what other people thought of my book. The comments were abrupt, pointed, and sometimes downright rude. But, as I edited and perfected things - that first chapter, especially - the comments became lifesavers when I was about to give up on writing. They encouraged me to continue onward, letting me know I really did have something worth pursuing. Yay for Authonomy!

Questions? Comments? Complaints? :-)

And now, because I have nowhere else to post it, my brother playing Jon Schmidt's All of Me (he hadn't played it in a long time, so there are mistakes. :-)):

Have a lovely day!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Writing with Passion

How many of you have kids or siblings who are teenagers? My youngest brother just turned seventeen. The other day something came up, and he found himself having to defend a certain position. He fiercely stood his ground, his voice passionate, unwilling to budge. He doesn't get like this very often, but when he does, EVERYONE knows it.

What is it about being a teenager? They feel everything so deeply--they're passionate about life, and it shows in everything: the music they write and listen to, the books they read, how they defend and stick up for things - even when they're completely off the mark. They're more likely than adults to be extreme in hairstyles, clothes, music, even food. They like to experience life to the fullest, trying everything.

How is it that we as adults lose this passion? Or, is it more that we've come to understand how life works? We've learned to choose our battles?

A few months ago, for the Mormon Artist magazine, I interviewed Michael Flynn, a Mormon actor, director, and producer. (Produced The Best Two Years. Mormons may recognize him as Pontius Pilate in The Lamb of God, or the sheriff in Footloose.) He commented on this topic. "Passion is what drives the industry — you need to really understand what your character wants, why they do what they do. You bring the passion to it, you bring the emotion to it. That’s really what it’s all about. The passion.

After the interview, Michael made a comment that viewers can always tell when the actor doesn't feel passionate about what they're doing. And, he said, viewers will always choose a passionate movie over something that is only so-so where emotions are concerned.

This applies perfectly to writing. A couple of point-blank questions we need to ask ourselves: why are we writing if we don't feel strongly about it? How can we expect someone to read our books if our characters don't have an intense pull to something?

I think this especially applies to young adult literature. If we're writing for teenagers, we need to give them what they crave: passion. Hunger Games is an emotionally intense book, and no one will argue that Twilight doesn't appeal to its target audience. I'm sure you can name off other "zealous" books.

I've read the occasional story where the MC didn't care about things around him/her. But, after a few chapters, they always ended up fiercely defending or wanting something. Our own characters need to reach this point, else we run the risk of losing readers.

Now take your passion and make it happen! (Name that song... :-))

Sunday, June 20, 2010

What's up with that?

I swear, there's this whole section of the United States that refuses to visit my blog. Click on the map farther down my side bar, and you'll see what I'm talking about. Seriously - what's up with that? Did I offend several states worth of American citizens? :-)

Things are going well, all things considered - I just haven't had the emotional energy to be on the internet lately. But everything happens for a reason, and I know the Lord is watching out for His children. (Check my last post for more information on what I'm talking about.)

Speaking of "everything happens for a reason," the release date for my book has been postponed. There was an error in production (many of you already know this), and things have come to a halt. This sort of thing is fairly common in the publishing world, and I'm hoping The Key of Kilenya will be coming out as close to July 6th as possible. I'll keep everyone posted. :-)

In the meantime, I've finished the first draft of book two, and am trying to decide what else to do. Perfect book two? Write the first drafts of all the other books in the series? Write a completely separate book? Water the garden? Paint daises on a big red rubber ball? Answer the phone when it rings? Sigh. Too many choices. :-)

This made me laugh:

He he he. :-)

What's going on in your lives? Any cool announcements? Random facts? Funny kid quotes?

Friday, June 11, 2010

My friend, Clark Kimble

Just wanted to let everyone know that Clark passed away this evening. Thank you for your support and friendship. Yesterday when I spent time with him he was laughing, talking, still tired, but the fight was in his eyes--today his body started shutting down. I know he isn't in pain anymore. His spirit no longer inhabits a tabernacle of infection and viruses. He was a great example to me of faith, perseverance, long-suffering, patience, and love.

The Lord who knows everything called him home where he will continue to bless the lives of those around him.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

I'm not Dead, I Promise. :-)

I haven't had a lot of time lately for Twitter and blogging. Sad, huh? I'm not neglecting any of you on purpose and promise to come back soon, but my time has been stretched really thin lately.

Last year my friend, Clark Kimble, contracted a really scary virus which killed his liver. They got him a transplant, but the virus continued to attack his system--destroyed his bone marrow--which in turn destroyed his ability to make his own blood. He needs a transplant, but has been rejected by Medicaid three times, even though they're covering him. Weekly blood transfusions suffice for now, but he's really having a hard time fighting bacteria and such without his own blood. Plus, the transfusions are VERY expensive. We're in the process of getting the attention of "higher ups" to help us out.

I went up to the hospital (Huntsman) yesterday with a friend and my sister-in-law to bring up Clark's car for his mom to use, and to drop off some donated money. Clark was in and out of it the whole time--probably doesn't remember we'd even visited. His mom and sister asked me to try to wake him up. To get his attention, I practically had to yell his name, and he'd open his eyes only long enough to see us, then would be back asleep again. He's had an especially hard time the last couple of days because of infections in his lungs.

Anyway. I feel really strongly about helping him and his family. Just reading through the posts they've put on his blog (here) makes me cry. They've been through so much, and I want to do everything I can to alleviate that pain. He's had 18 major surgeries in the last year and he's only 24!

Long explanation, but there you have it. :-) I haven't forgotten any of you! And I'm not gone forever! :-) I'm spending most of my time heading up a bunch of fund raisers in the area and working on my first edit of book two in my series. Wish me luck, and see y'all soon. :-)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Author Interviews!

I'm so OCD, it kills me. I have to have a nice, organized place to put all of my author interviews (of me and mine of others). Silly me. :-)

Interviews I conducted:
Daron Fraley
Don Carey
Krista Lynne Jensen

Interviews of me:
Matthew Shields
LDS Women's Book Review
Aaron Polson
Daron Fraley
Krista Lynne Jensen
Don Carey
Literary Works in the Works
The Literary Soundtrack

Friday, June 4, 2010

Book Review: The Thorn

Author: Daron Fraley
Daron's website and blog
Read my interview of Daron
Information on the book and how to purchase it here.

From the back of the book:
Three tribes are at war on the planet Gan, unaware that the sign of Christ’s birth on an unknown world – Earth – is about to appear in the heavens.

During a bloody skirmish with Gideonite troops, Jonathan of Daniel spares Pekah, a young enemy soldier, gaining his trust forever. These two distant brothers from estranged tribes covenant with each other to end the war being waged by a self-proclaimed emperor, and soon discover the intentions of a far more dangerous foe named Rezon – a sinister general bent on ruling those he can bring into subjection and destroying all others.

Daron has talent as a writer when it comes to descriptions and emotions. They're enough that they help readers picture things, and yet did not go overboard and get boring. I felt drawn into the story through Jonathan and especially Pekah--their experiences, thoughts, and reunions with loved ones. There were many instances when I actually got chills at what was happening. I found myself yearning to understand what was going on in this world, and was happy with how things played out.

As authors we've been told to not use dreams in our stories--they tend to pull people out of the book, or don't help further things the way the writer wants them to. I found this to not apply to The Thorn. Two significant dreams occur, and the way Daron used them propelled the story forward, keeping my interest. (They were dang cool! And the ending of the book--holy cow! The battle scene was awesome, and tons of super-cool things happen! *ahem.* Sorry about that. Back to the serious review. :-))

My favorite character was Pekah--his humble, unassuming ways endeared him to me. His experiences placed him on a pedestal, and yet he didn't try to make himself important in the eyes of other people.

I loved the contrast between the characters: Rachel and Jonathan, Pekah, Jasher, Abigail and Eli. I especially felt close to Abigail--a humble, selfless, sweet and even-tempered young woman who goes through enough trials to last a lifetime.

If you are looking for a book with a calm, peaceful story which focuses a great deal on character development, the battle between right and wrong, and uniting long-estranged brothers, pick up The Thorn. You'll be happy you did.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Writing Tips: Stop Yer Procrastinating!

I absolutely love to surf the net for writing tips, tools, advice, anything aimed to make my writing better, and anything dealing with other authors and their agents/publishers. I know many of you are like this, and honestly, it isn't a bad thing. We should keep up with the publishing world, even if we're not ready to start submitting, or even if we're already represented. (A good place to start on all of this would be Nathan Bransford's blog.)

He he he. I can't help but laugh every time I see this. It's sooo sad! :-)

One of the biggest lessons I've had to learn as an author is there must be moderation in all things. Yes, this is something taught by basically every person everywhere, but in the writing world, I still forget it occasionally.

And it's no wonder we get distracted: there are many things to keep track of and to master. It's easy to get sucked into our computers and forget to watch the clock.

A post of mine from a while ago (What to Do While Writing) addressed this issue, and in it I mention something Jaime Thelar observed: we use internet resources as a crutch, or as a way to procrastinate our actual writing.

Case in point: I once spent several hours trying to find the perfect name for a character and even the best actor to play him on the big screen. It finally dawned on me I'd been avoiding my writing. But why? Why was I so focused on this character?

I took a long break--probably watched a movie with my mom--then went back to the computer to figure out what was wrong. It came easily then: I'd been trying to find a name for a someone who didn't really belong in the story. I ended up revamping his personality, basically removing who he'd been and replacing him with someone better, getting me excited about writing and ready to forge onward. Problem solved!

Many days I can't allow myself to open the internet, to talk to people, or even sometimes to eat until I've done my writing for the day, since I'll use these as excuses to leave the computer. (I've learned when my body lies to me about it being hungry. :-))

What have you found which works for you? How do you keep yourself from getting sucked into surfing and spending too much precious writing time on researching and self-education?

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