Friday, February 24, 2012

TeamTEENAuthor Truth or Dare Challenge 1

I’m going to take the truth on this one, and a big thank you to K.Turley for asking it. I would’ve been cool doing the dare, too, but K. Turley’s question had the makings for a semi-interesting blog post.

Here’s the question:

Have you ever told someone you liked their book when you actually didn’t (and what’s the reason why)?

So the answer to this is both no and…yes, kinda. I would be an outright liar if I tried to tell you that I’m always completely honest about my feelings for every book/manuscript/story I’ve read. I definitely censor. I definitely don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. I don’t want my own feelings to get stomped on. I believe in paying-it-forward and do unto others and karma and all of that. I don’t believe that telling someone you hated their story serves any purpose other than to hurt and teardown.

I have not, however, ever told someone at length that I liked/loved their book in its entirety when I actually didn’t. Instead, I focus on any element of the book I genuinely liked and refer to that specifically. For example, I might’ve said, “I really liked character So-and-So,” or “Wow, that was a killer ending,” or “Great dialogue.” The truth of the matter is, almost every story has some kind of redeeming quality to it if you look hard enough.
There are exceptions. I once read a story in a short fiction class in college that was so horrible and offensive that I simply couldn’t comment on it in any way that wasn’t negative and so I didn’t. I might’ve even skipped class the day it was scheduled to be discussed, although I don’t remember for sure.

But the point I want to make is this: human beings learn better and faster from positive feedback than negative. Now, you may disagree with me, and that’s fine. But I can say for myself, that nothing makes me strive harder to do well than positive reinforcement. When someone tells me I’ve done something well, I try to do that thing again and again, but only better. I emphasize the positive.

Here’s another example, but in reverse. There are people who believe that by leaving a bad tip for a server is a way to teach them to do better. This is wrong. Just plain wrong. Now, I fully expect people to disagree with me, but I’m speaking from experience here. I waited tables all throughout college, and never once in all that time did I ever hear a fellow server say, “Gee, I guess that customer left that crappy tip because I didn’t fill their drink often enough or because I was inattentive in some way.”

Nope, not once. Ever.

Wanna know what they do say? “Gee, those people are a bunch of cheap a**holes.” By leaving that bad tip those customers might think they’re teaching a bad server a lesson, but it’s not true. You can’t really teach the bad ones anything, anyway. You can’t teach people to be good. All you can do is encourage them to be better. By leaving a server a nice tip, even if they sucked, you might be helping the next customer get better service.

The same premise is applicable to writing. If I really enjoyed a particular character or element of a story, then by pointing it out to the writer, I might help make sure those good elements make it into the next story and so on.

Don’t get me wrong, in a critique situation I will point out the parts of a story that didn’t work for me or that I think need to be revised. There is such a thing as constructive criticism, but flat-out telling an author you hated their book isn’t for me.  And honestly, the books I’m liable to hate, I don’t read anyway.

Happy Writing!

***Originally published at You can comment here or there.***

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Truth or Dare: TeamTEENauthor Challenge

Yeah, that’s right. I’m entering a Truth or Dare challenge initiated by the lovely Julie Cross, author of the fantastic TEMPEST. In order to kick-start her blog rebirth, Julie’s challenging her teamTEENauthor friends to create an identical Truth or Dare post and let their readers pick the truths or dares we are to answer/perform. To complete a dare, the author must provide photographic or video footage proof of performing said DARE. In the case of a “DARE FAIL” the author will post the photo shown below on their blog for no less than one week regardless of whether it matches the blog's color scheme.

This post is the one where I answer commonly asked truth or dare questions —provided by Google— and then any reader brave enough to reveal a truth about themselves, can then challenge me to answer another truth or perform a dare. You can read Julie’s post here and find out more about TEMPEST.

So here it goes:


1) If your significant other said it was all right, would you cheat on them?

Um — hell to the no. Truth is, I’m a jealous person. Which means if the hubby were making this offer to me, I would assume it’s because he wants to do the same. In which case, we’d be in for some serious trouble.

2) What is there about your boyfriend/girlfriend (spouse) that embarrasses you?

My hubby is a guy-guy, aka not a single metrosexual impulse in his entire body. This also means he has no sense of color coordination when it comes to clothes. He simply just doesn’t care (which is fine by me, BTW). Fortunately, his lack of clothes coordination ability is rarely a source of embarrassment for me, because if he tries to wear a red shirt with green cargo pants, I send him back to the closet to change.

3) What is more important than money?

Family. Period. Always.

4) When have you loved someone who has not loved you back?

This has not happened to me, not genuinely. There have been plenty of people I’ve been attracted to who weren’t attracted back, and vice versa, but that’s definitely not love.

5) When was the first time you had your heart broken?

The day one of our dogs, a Siberian Husky named Nikita, got loose from the background and struck by a car. I was maybe 10 or so. I shut myself up in my closet for several hours and cried and cried and cried.

6) When is it all right to mix love and business?

Um, always — at least when you’re a writer. I LOVE writing and telling stories, but it’s definitely a business at the same time. And I’m cool with that.

7) If you were given a chance to become invisible for one day, what would you do with this ability

Spy on either Nathan Fillion or Viggo Mortensen. I’d just follow one of them around for a day. Why you say? Just to see what they’re like in real person. They both seem so cool to me. Nathan, because he’s funny and a screwball and just looks like a blast. Viggo because he’s a “guy-guy” who likes to ride horses and be outdoors, but he also enjoys poetry and reading. It would be fun to confirm their coolness.

8) If you could see 24 hours into the future what would you do with this ability

I would be seriously tempted to bet on some kind of sport event. Then again, I would probably chicken out. I’ve seen Back to the Future waaaaaay too many times to fall into that trap.

9) Who was your first crush with?

Oh my, this one is going to be so funny and obscure, I’m afraid you won’t believe it. The true answer? Heath Barkley from the very-old western TV show, The Big Valley, as played by Lee Majors. Heath was the quintessential rebel and an outcast cowboy. And he had the cutest way of raising just one eyebrow. Oh and I was in like the 4th grade, so there you go.

10) When is it all right for your boyfriend/girlfriend to lie to you?

Whenever I ask his opinion on how I look. Sorry, I’m vane that way. Can’t help it. And when you’ve had two kids, you need all the vanity perks you can get.

11) If you were the opposite sex for one day, what would you look like and what would you do?
I would probably look a bit like Scott Caan, on the short side but stout. As far as what I would do? Spend the day eating pizza and drinking beer and not worrying about burning those calories off later.

Wanna Join the Game?

So you want to play in my game? Here’s what you do: answer one of the above truth questions in the comment section. Then it’s your turn to ask me a truth…or offer a DARE.

***Originally posted at You can comment here or there.***

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Another Critique Opportunity

Hi All!

So my fantastically wonderful critique partner and agent sister Lori M. Lee is holding a massive give-away on her blog to celebrate her blog's 1 year anniversary. Among those prizes is another query critique plus 5-pages from me. And guess what? The winner of that prize will get aslo get a critique from Lori and two other awesome writers!

And if that's not reason enough to enter, you can also win partial manuscript critiques, Barnes & Noble gift cards, new and upcoming books. So what are you waiting for? Go check it out here.

Oh, and be sure to check back in next week as I enter the super-awesome/ super-scary team TEENauthor challenge, involving truth or dares performed by yours truly. Yikes!

Happy Writing!

***Originally posted at You can comment here or there.***

Monday, February 13, 2012

Query Contest Winner!

Firstly, I want to say thank you to everyone who entered the query and 10-page critique contest. I really wish I had the time to give each and every one of you personal feedback. At a minimum, I promise to hold regular contests for critiques from here on out.

And now for the winner, courtesy of the magic that is

Katherine Amabel!

Huge congrats! *throws confetti*

I’ll be emailing Katherine shortly with instructions, and I wish the rest of you best of luck with your writing!

***originally posted at You can comment here or there.***

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Website Reveal + Query Contest

That’s right. I now have an official website ( As with my blogger site, the beautiful header was designed by the ultra-fabulous Cat York. Working with Cat has been a grand experience, and I hope all of you go check out her website and then hire her to illustrate something gorgeous and fun just for you.

Aside from the header design, setting up the website has been an experience of frustration, pain, and ultimate triumph (I think/hope). So triumphant, in fact, that I’m holding a Query Letter + First 10 pages critique contest to celebrate.

It’s super easy to enter. All you have to do is leave a comment below telling me you’d like to be entered (if you don’t want to enter, but would still like to comment, please go ahead, especially if you have something nice to say about Cat :).

There’s no requirement to follow me anywhere, although that is always nice. And it would be even extra nice if you mentioned the contest somewhere else like Twitter, Facebook, or your own blog, but again, not necessary. The contest will be open until next Monday. To the winner, I promise to give helpful, gentle, and encouraging feedback.

Good luck and happy writing!

P.S. My edits for The Nightmare Affair have arrived!!! Yippee!!! to the writing cave with me.

***originally published at You can comment here or there.***