Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Sunshine Award + BOOK GIVEAWAY!!

Thanks so much to Linda McMann, my bloggy friend who passed on The Sunshine Award to me. This award is a "lovely sunny flower that bloggers give to other bloggers who positively and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere."

Check out Linda's blog HERE. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It's time once again for me to do a book giveaway. I've been reading quite a bit lately, and would like to pass a few of my YA books on to YOU!

Easy To Enter:
1. Be a Follower of this blog.
2. Comment below, and it's very helpful if you say which book you'd like to win!
3. Enter the random drawing by midnight PST by Tuesday, June 4, 2013.
4. Winners will be announced Wednesday, June 5, 2013.
4. Sorry, no international entries. I'll offer a chapter critique for anyone not in the US.


1. TOUCH by Jus Accardo, paperback

When a strange boy tumbles down a river embankment and lands at her feet, 17-year-old adrenaline junkie Deznee Cross snatches the opportunity to piss off her father by bringing the mysterious hottie with ice blue eyes home.

Except there’s something off with Kale. He wears her shoes in the shower, is overly fascinated with things like DVDs, and acts like she’ll turn to dust if he touches her. It’s not until Dez’s father shows up, wielding a gun and knowing more about Kale than he should, that Dez realizes there’s more to this boy--and her father’s “law firm”--than she realized.

Kale has been a prisoner of Denazen Corporation--an organization devoted to collecting “special” kids known as Sixes and using them as weapons--his entire life. And his touch? It kills. The two team up with a group of rogue Sixes bent on taking down Denazen before they’re caught and her father discovers the biggest secret of all. A secret Dez has spent her life keeping safe. A secret Kale will kill to protect.

2. UNDER THE NEVER SKY by Veronica Rossi, hardback

This book follows the character of Aria, a 17-year-old girl that has been exiled from Reverie, the city of her home, due to a fire that takes the lives of her best friend and two other boys. This punishment is almost certain death, outside of her enclosed city is a wasteland known as the Death Shop. It's a place filled with cannibals and terrible storms. Even the air can kill her, so when she meets Outsider Perry, she knows that he's her own chance for survival.

Despite his reluctance to take in a sheltered girl from Reverie, Perry knows that Aria has the potential to help him redeem himself. The two must learn how to work together if they are to survive, and find out things they never thought possible.

3. SHIFTER by Janice Hardy, hardback

A dangerous secret. A deadly skill.

Nya is an orphan struggling for survival in a city crippled by war. She is also a Taker--with her touch, she can heal injuries, pulling pain from another person into her own body. But unlike her sister, Tali, and the other Takers who become Healers, Nya's skill is flawed: she can't push that pain into pynvium, the enchanted metal used to store it. All she can do is shift it into another person, a dangerous skill that she must keep hidden. If discovered, she could be used as a human weapon.

But one day Nya pushes her luck too far and exposes her secret to a pain merchant eager to use her shifting ability for his own sinister purposes. She refuses--until Tali and other League Healers start mysteriously disappearing. Now Nya must decide: How far will she go to get Tali back alive?

4. ORIGIN by Jessica Khoury, hardback

The jungle hides a girl who cannot die.

An electrifying action-romance that's as thoughtful as it is tragic.

Pia has grown up in a secret laboratory hidden deep in the Amazon rain forest. She was raised by a team of scientists who have created her to be the start of a new immortal race. But on the night of her seventeenth birthday, Pia discovers a hole in the electric fence that surrounds her sterile home--and sneaks outside the compound for the first time in her life.

Free in the jungle, Pia meets Eio, a boy from a nearby village. Together, they embark on a race against time to discover the truth about Pia's origin--a truth with deadly consequences that will change their lives forever.

Have you been finding time to read books lately?
If you're entering and have a preference, which book would you like to win?
Which one of these awesome covers do you like best? Have you read these books?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Questions for Your Manuscript

NOTE! Don't forget, as listed on my sidebar, I offer 250-word critiques on this blog. Can be posted anonymously or with your name. Send your sample pasted in an email to artzicarol [at] gmail [dot] com. It can be a little over 250 words in order to finish a sentence. Discover what I (and others) suggest about how to make your opening page stronger!

Your Writing Journey
Wherever you are in your writing journey, there are questions to ponder before it reaches public eyes. Here's a short (?) list of things to watch out for. Seriously ask yourself these questions, or pose them to your critique partners to apply to your manuscript.

1. Is your main character someone a reader wants to spend the entire novel with? Is he/she interesting…relatable…likeable?   
2. Are the supporting characters, especially best friends, fleshed out? Do they have likes, dislikes, motivations, lives beyond the page? Why does your main character hang out with his/her friends--what do they have in common?
3. If the villain or antagonist is a person (rather than circumstances or self), does he or she have motivations for evil behavior? Are they rounded rather than mustache-twirling stereotypes?
4. What is your main character's goal? What does he or she want? (This can shift and morph) Will it change MC's life if the goal is not met--are there consequences?
5. Does your character change throughout? Can you look at him/her at the end, and truly say he/she is a different person from the beginning? What has he/she learned?
6. Is there emotional resonance? Do your characters feel deeply and cause the reader to feel deeply?

Setting, Theme, Hook
1. Does the location of your story complement your genre/novel style? Does it make it nicely more complex and layered?
2. Does the time of year you've set the story matter? Does the weather affect your characters' lives and decisions? (it doesn't have to, but it can provide an added dimension)
3. Is there a universal theme--true love conquers all, sacrificing for others, navigating romance while staying true to one's self, showing courage despite fear, etc.? What nugget of truth can readers take away?
4. Is your storyline unique? It needs a hook, a draw. What makes your story different from everything else out there, and why should a reader spend HOURS reading your book?
5. Have you begun the novel intriguingly, rather than with backstory, explanations, and preparatory set-ups?

1. Is your forward momentum strong--is there a compelling urge for the reader to stay up past bedtime and finish?
2. Are there surprising twists, things that are logical but unexpected?
3. Have you avoided the "middle doldrums," the saggy mid-point in which nothing develops or changes? Are your conflicts and tensions taut throughout? 
4. Do your chapters always end on low notes or at the end of the scene--or have you spiced things up by ending in mid-scene and mid-action at the end of some chapters?
5. Have you varied your highs and lows, causing the quieter scenes to make the action ones feel more intense? (even thrillers often have "down times" to refresh the reader)
6. Does the main character's problems escalate and get worse as the story progresses?

The End
1. Have you wrapped up all the questions and loose ends? Does it feel finished, satisfying? (even with a series, it's important to tie up main or crucial plot points)
2. Is the ending logical, with no contrived twist that solves everything? Has the main character solved the problems, or has someone or something else solved them? (the villain's death, a cataclysmic event, a parent or boyfriend)
3. Is your last paragraph/sentence strong, since that's the thing the reader will see and remember?

Do you run your novels or stories through questions like this?
When do you ask these kinds of questions--at the beginning, the end, or throughout?
When you critique others' manuscripts, do you use a list like this?