Calling All #Tampa Area #YA #Writers

WANTED

Are you a writer? An aspiring writer? Do you write YA or New Adult? Do you live in the Tampa region? 

Would you like to be part of a writing group designed specifically for those genres? 

Are you curious about the ins and outs of the publishing process? From drafting to querying to publication and everything that comes between?

If you answered yes to these questions, we would love to meet you! 

For those of you who follow this blog, you know that I’m a reader, and a writer. I’ve been working hard on my WIP and intend to query next month. 

My friend, Ginger, and I are looking for fellow writers who are focused and aim to go through the whole hellish process with the ultimate goal of publication. 

We’d love to sprint, critique, hang out, and embrace all things writing. If you’re in the region and looking to get serious about your writing goals, we would love to motivate and cheer you on. 

If you’re interested, please comment or shoot me an email at yabookmadness@gmail.com

Looking forward to talking to you,

Jordan

Guest Post: The Indie Author Journey by Sherry Soule

THE INDIE AUTHOR JOURNEY ~ #StarlightSaga

Guest post by Amazon Bestselling Author Sherry Soule

Starlight Saga Banner 2

Sherry Soule has some exciting news to share with us! She has recently published the next book in her popular Starlight Saga series, a humorous paranormal romance. Today, Sherry is doing this fun guest post to share the book love with fellow readers.

Be warned, these books have scorching-hot romance!

LOST IN STARLIGHT- book 1 - paranormal romance - dark humor - book cover

When I was growing up, the only thing I ever dreamed about was being a professional writer. Today Amazon sent me an email inviting me to create an author page. This probably sounds lame to some people, but it’s an exciting step to me. My own official author page! I realize for self-published and indie authors that it’s an on-going struggle to get your books out into the world, and hopefully make some money in the process.

Like every writer, I am incredibly passionate about my work. The main reason I write is because I love to do it. Not for the money. No, because I love creating characters. I love crafting suspense. And I love telling stories—my kind of stories.

Writing has always been my true passion. This was what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to publish novels. I dreamed of being a professional author since I was seven years old, and I enjoy writing both adult and young adult tales.

Best-selling author, Tracy Hickman was quoted as saying, “Don’t seek to be published, seek to be read.”

Simple words. Great advice. It made so much sense. Write for your readers. Write what you love. Write every day and don’t give up.

Our dreams should give us wings. Let us fly. Soar above the clouds. And we should never, ever have to look down. Right?

Being a voracious reader all of my life, I believe my writing style differs from the other young adult paranormals being published; because my stories tend to have elements of chilling suspense weaved into the plot. Nor are my stories always focused primarily on “love.” But there is a lot of kissing!

Yet I do write about people who fall in love under unusual circumstances. Not because I like a conventional happy ending—no, I write about love because I believe it’s the strongest human emotion we possess. And sometimes my character’s choices don’t get them a happy ending. Sometimes the endings are surprising. Sometimes bittersweet. Sometimes they end with a cliffhanger. But I hope they are never boring or too predictable.

How did I start?

Well, like I said, I’ve been writing since I was seven. I’ve written a lot of books over the years. Yeah, a lot of bad books, too. I went to college, but mostly took creative writing and English classes. I couldn’t go full-time because I had a family to look after, but I did take various writing courses for the past ten years.

To be honest, I’ve tried three times in my life to find a literary agent, aka the gatekeepers to the publishing world, without success. I’ve even had a few prominent agencies request my work. Looking back, I know what I did wrong. I didn’t have any critique partners. The manuscript wasn’t tightened up and polished. I didn’t hire a freelance editor. I thought it was good. Well, it sucked. Hence, the multiple rejections. Which also sucked.

I’d like to think I’ve learned a lot since then. I hope I have.

The turning point in my life came when, like so many people across the United States, I lost my job. I feel into a deep, dark depression. To escape my utter hopelessness and to be productive, I decided to try writing again. I rewrote an old story that I still believed in, but knew it still needed some major revision. Maybe this was a sign from God to try to get published after all these years. I wrote every day for months, then started query agents and editors again. No luck. More rejections.

I worked part-time and kept writing. I started editing a manuscript that I wrote about nine years ago called, “IMMORTAL ECLIPSE.” I did some freelance developmental editing to pay the rent. Then I was laid off again and after a few months, my unemployment ended. I was scared. No job. No money in my checking account and my savings account had been closed by my bank. Zero funds.

Time to freak out. I was a single mother with two young children to support. But no way to support them. Then I discovered that my seven-year-old daughter was diagnosed with a severe and very rare disease. The medical bills began to mount up. I needed money.

In my heart, I still didn’t want to give up on my dream. It was all I had left to encourage me…

Once I gave up the idea of a book deal with a New York publishing house and finding an über agent that loved my work, I decided to look into indie publishers. Then I read about Amanda Hocking’s success story on her blog. I was impressed and awed. She had taken a chance, so I decided to self-publish one of my early novels. Why not? I talked it over with my family—who agreed. I had nothing to lose. And since I was out of a job, I had time to promote my work.

Then some of my family members announced that they wanted to start an online publishing company. And guess what? I was the first to sign with them. Sure, they’re small but everyone has to start somewhere. So, they didn’t mind when I wanted to hire my own cover artist. (Do not be naïve—book covers sell books. Well, that and good writing.)

Going Indie is a scary endeavor. On occasion things don’t work out. Books don’t sell. The genre dead ends. Bad timing. Worse luck.

But indie authors can find a small amount of success due to the book blogging community, which is so incredibly supportive. And I sincerely thank the book reviewers who have embraced and heartily praised my novels.

Although, I may never reach the success of other self-published or indie authors, I won’t look back at my life someday with regret. At least I’ll know I tried, and that’s something, right? You only fail if you never try…

“If you’re waiting for the universe to provide for you, I’ve got a feeling you’re going to wait a long time. If you know what you want, then my advice is to confidently take the necessary steps and go get it.” – Bryan Hutchinson

So, now I need to get back to editing and writing new stories. No reason to let these manuscripts sit on my hard-drive. Maybe someone will enjoy reading them. Maybe not. Maybe I’ll keep dreaming and hoping, and someday those hopes and dreams will come true. Maybe not.

But what good are dreams if you don’t try to make them come true? What good is trying to follow your heart if those aspirations can’t be turned into reality?

Never let someone else put limits on your goals or hinder your own personal dreams. I know, I won’t…

UNDER SUNLESS SKIES - book 2 - science fiction paranormal romance - book cover

Amazon Author Page/Lost in Starlight/Under Sunless Skies/Series Blog/Goodreads

authAuthor-Sherry-Soule-Suspense-Small

Sherry Soule is an Amazon bestselling author, who lives in the SF Bay Area with her family and one very spoiled black cat.

Many of her books have spent time on the Kindle bestseller lists and have been nominated as top picks in the “Paranormal Romance” categories by sites such as The Romance Reviews, Night Owl Reviews, and the Paranormal Romance Guild.

Sherry mainly writes urban fantasy, romantic suspense, and paranormal romance in young adult, new adult, and adult genres set in fictional places within Northern California that feature independent females and sexy alpha males.

While Sherry doesn’t consider herself a fashionista, she does like to express herself through her stylish apparel, and her heroines do, too.

Amazon/Blog/Twitter/Goodreads/Facebook

Pleasant reading, 

Jordan

When to Let an Idea Go

The short and sweet version of this post is: never. 

I’m a firm believer in the power of ideas and that there is no such thing as an idea that is ALL bad or can’t be reformed or edited to become something better or even incredible. 

Like most things, ideas are a bare minimum, a foundation, if you will, to build off and craft into something bigger, clearer, and more precise. 

Think of ideas like Legos. 

One Lego by itself is not all that impressive. Seriously, what can you even do with one Lego? But when you add in Legos of different sizes, colors, and shapes, you can build something amazing. The best thing about Legos (ideas) is that you can take them apart, rebuild, and shift them around into something different until you create something you can fall in love with. 

Ideas aren’t nailed down, limited, or cemented into a final form. They aren’t sculptures and even sculptures can be broken, keep that in mind. The only limitations on ideas are those we place on ourselves. We think that ideas have to be binary. One thing or another, but with time and care, they transform into something magical. 

Okay, if the Lego analogy hasn’t won you over, how about Stephen King?

If you’ve read On Writing (if not YOU SHOULD GO GET IT RIGHT NOW), you may remember a section on character creation. Stephen King and many writers (people, let’s not limit) constantly get ideas for characters, whether it’s in the shower, inspired by an image or a person on the street. Those inklings are fuel for future projects. WRITE THEM DOWN. Put in on a phone memo, pop open a notebook, whether it’s a handful of keywords or a full on description, put it on paper/virtual paper. Stephen King puts his on notecards and saves them for later. He picks them out of the box at random and writes. Um…that’s something I can totally get behind and how fun is that?

Alright, I’m not just here to spout Stephen King’s wisdom, I swear I have a point. Stephen King’s tips on characters can also apply to ideas. Write them down. Come back to them later if you want. Store them in a cute index card holder. Whatever. OR nurture them. Deliberate. Think of how you can develop those ideas. Don’t be afraid to be extremely detailed or only have a bare bones idea. Writing, getting it down on paper alone, will help with that development. 

Ideas are transformative. Don’t throw them away. Save them, shape them, build on them until they become something you can work with, something you can be proud of. You don’t have to use them right away or ever use them, but having them there, chilling out is a comfort in itself. 

I can’t tell you how many times people have told me to give up on ideas. I used to get mad. Because who can understand your ideas, your process better than you can? But I realized that not everyone is the same. Some people believe that letting go is helpful and if that’s you, do what is BEST and true for you. I am not that person and I also think that people should always weigh their options and make decisions that will be best for themselves. You do you. 

Always,

Jordan

Accountability

Let’s talk about accountability. Writing accountability. Today, I’ve decided (I know) to write. Really write. Not stare at the screen and write horrible sentences just to have something and then delete them because not only is that annoying, but it’s a waste of “me”.

Part of me feels like I should hold myself accountable, and don’t get me wrong, you should, you need to, and you should want to. But I also feel like accountability is both easier and way more scary if someone else is checking in on you. Easier because when you know someone is going to ask (and if you are honest) then you might try just a little harder to meet goals. Scary because you might fail.

I also have way too much writing sitting around…taking up space on my desktop. I love them, I want them, I feel like I’m neglecting them. But…if you have read to this point, I WOULD LOVE for for someone…anyone to be that person. The one that schedules (can you do this…I think you can) a text that says…are you writing because if not get on that.

Really what I want to get back to is writing for me. Because I’m stubborn, because I’m going to do what I want to, and because people telling me what I should or should not be doing is kind of grating…you see the dilemma.

Honestly, I don’t know 100% what I want, I’m figuring it out, and part of that process is trying new methods and discovering what works for me.

That being said, I’m going to write. If you want to shoot me a comment (or email) later and ask me how I did, I’d love to chat about it. I would also be that person for you, if you want that.

Another thought, excuse my sporadic mind, making deals with yourself. For me, if I write IDK let me set the bar low today 500 words plus, I can watch Shark Week.

-Rambler out.

UPDATE: So far (I posted this on the Facebook page first) I’ve written 300 words in my 20 minute sprint. It seems small, but they’re good words, they’re the right words, and they’re exactly what I needed to set the tone for the next chapter. I deleted an entire chapter prior to my sprint because…let me be real, those words SUCKED. Here’s the thing. You can’t be afraid to get rid of something that isn’t working. That’s how you write yourself into a corner and end up pushing aside the manuscript. It’s hard to slice and dice the words while writing, but sometimes it’s necessary to move forward. And yes, it’s terrifying watching all the words disappear. If you’re worried, save the words you’re cutting in a different doc for later. I’ve found that once they’re gone and when I go back (just out of curiosity) to check them out pages later, that I never needed them in the first place and in fact, they made the story weaker. 

Let’s Talk Shop

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything besides reviews, promos, etc. And while the response has been fantastic, I would like to first, know a little bit more about my readers. Who are you? Tell me about you and what you like to read. I will use that to make sure that I include what you’re interested in on here.

What would you like to see more of on the blog?

What are some issues you think need to be addressed? Is it hard to find contact information? Would it be better if I added a different or more social media networks?

Would you like to talk about writing?

For those of you who don’t know, I’m a writer. I’m constantly working on new stories and I’d be very interested in knowing what you think is missing in YA. What would you like to see more of? What would you like to see less of? What annoys you? What do you love?

Writing is a struggle. Sticking to schedules, factoring in life, it can be a chaotic, crazy mess. I know that for me, as a freelance writer/editor/all things related to books that I am constantly swamped with edits and fact checking and research and managing everything that needs to get done (thank you for planners right?). 

Would you like to talk about those struggles or my own writing issues? Would you like help in your own process? 

Comment or shoot me an email about WHATEVER. I want to make this blog more helpful and insightful. Send me your thoughts!

Always,

Jordan

2016 Reading Challenge

Welcome to the first ever YA Book Madness created reading challenge! 

Designed with Young Adult books in mind, this 2016 challenge has a huge span and great variety to broaden your reading horizons and help you find hidden YA gems. 

52 challenges. That’s one book a week. It’s perfectly doable, though it might take a little hunting. 

I’ll be on this journey right along with you and keep you posted when I complete a challenge!

Let me know if you’re participating in this challenge or any others. Interact and have fun!

Without further ado…

2016 challenge

Happy reading, 

Jordan

Interview: Forget Tomorrow-Pintip Dunn

FINAL COVERGoodreads/Amazon/B&N/Kobo/iBooks/Book Depository

Publisher: Entangled TEEN

Release Date: November 3, 2015

synImagine a world where your destiny has already been decided…by your future self.

It’s Callie’s seventeenth birthday and, like everyone else, she’s eagerly awaiting her vision-a memory sent back in time to sculpt each citizen into the person they’re meant to be. A world-class swimmer. A renowned scientist.

Or in Callie’s case, a criminal.

In her vision, she sees herself murdering her gifted younger sister. Before she can process what it means, Callie is arrested and placed in Limbo-a hellish prison for those destined to break the law. With the help of her childhood crush, Logan, a boy she hasn’t spoken to in five years, she escapes.

But on the run from her future, as well as the government, Callie sets in motion a chain of events that she hopes will change her fate. If not, she must figure out how to protect her sister from the biggest threat of all-Callie, herself.

int

  1. What sparked the idea for this unique dystopian society?

I was lying down for a hazy, mid-afternoon nap with my son and contemplating my writing career. Wouldn’t it be great, I thought, if a future me could send a memory back to myself, so that I would know if I succeeded as an author and whether those long hours and heartache were worth it? My mind immediately jumped to the next thought: “Hey! That would make a cool world for a book.” I’d already decided I wanted to write my next novel about sisters, and in particular, the protective, maternal love a teenage girl can have for her much younger sister. What would be the worst memory a girl like this could receive? I asked myself. The answer was obvious: a memory in which she saw herself killing the sister she swore to protest. And voila! Even before my son woke up from his nap, a story was born.

2. Logan is a surprisingly endearing and warm character. What would you say makes him a contender for the next book boyfriend? (I’ve certainly got my list)

Ha! I completely adore Logan. He had my heart from the moment he appeared on my page. I would say some of his best qualities are as follows:

Thoughtful: He used to bring Callie a red leaf every day to remind her of the sun.

Brave: At great personal risk to himself, he rescued Callie from Limbo, a hellish prison for those destined to break the law.

Sensitive: Logan cares deeply about his family and is haunted by his inaction five years ago, which he believes put his brother in jeopardy. 

Capable: Logan is the consummate outdoorsman. There’s nothing he can’t do — build a fire, navigate a map, side-stroke across a river, dragging Callie on his hip. 

Believes in Callie: When Callie has doubts and fears the person she will become, he believes in her strength and her love for her sister. 

3. What are the most important lessons learned from Forget Tomorrow?

I think the most important lesson in Forget Tomorrow is that you have to live for today. In this world, the people have placed all of their hopes and dreams into the future, and everything is a countdown to the day that they receive their future memories. The students call each other by their birthdays, and they are ordered in their classes, not by height or grades or alphabetical last names, but by the time remaining until they receive their future memories. 

However, as Callie finds out, sometimes the future doesn’t tell you want you to want to hear. As she goes from Limbo to Harmony, she meets people who have been paralyzed by their futures, As she witnesses them sacrificing their own happiness for what may or may not occur, she learns that the only way to live — the only way to continue breathing — is to forget about tomorrow and live for today. 

4. Have you started on book 2?

Yes! I am writing book 2, Remember Yesterday, right now and having a blast doing it. The story is completely worked out; I’m just in the process of putting words to paper. I’m so excited for everyone to read Jessa’s story, and I’ve even seen the cover for this book already. Hint: it is STUNNING. I might even be more in love with it than the cover for Forget Tomorrow, if that’s possible. (Okay, maybe not possible. Lol.)

You can read more about Remember Yesterday on Goodreads. You can even pre-order it on Amazon! 

5. Do you have a favorite quote that shows what captures the feeling of the story?

I’d love to quote you some song lyrics from “Crystal Ball,” which was a song written by David Elliott Johnson and Kimberly Brown for FORGET TOMORROW. These are not my words, but they perfectly capture what Callie is thinking and feeling at the beginning of the novel. So much that I cried the first time I heard this song: 

You’re not alone
Not on your own
You’ve got me I’ve got you
For everything you’re going through
If you believe
In what I see
You won’t worry about tomorrow at all
cause I can show you in my crystal ball

The lyrics are even more beautiful when Kimberly Brown sings them with that stunning, crystal-clear voice! This song just kills me every time I hear it.

If you haven’t heard “Crystal Ball” yet, you can listen to a teaser of the song here: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M0qpJyUltrs


6. What inspires you to write?

Nothing and everything. What do I mean by that? Nothing, because when you write for a profession you can’t wait for inspiration. You have to write every day (or almost every day) because otherwise, the book will never be finished. Many times, my best inspiration will come after I sit down and start putting words to paper. 

Everything, because I take inspiration from everything that I do, from the people I see, from the thoughts I have, and from the emotions I feel. I will say, though, that witnessing something beautiful — in particular, nature — fills me up with an emotion that I want to express. However, the way it is expressed often takes place in the form of ideas that I get from going about my daily life. 

7. Do you have any bizarre writer’s quirks?

I think my writing process is pretty unique. After I get an idea and spend a bit of time brainstorming and plotting, I write what I like to call a “zero draft.” This “zero draft” is essentially the same as as the “fast draft” that many writers do — write the story down as fast as you can, without editing and making sure your words are “pretty.” The difference is that most writers will then take this draft and revise and polish it. I throw the entire thing away, hence the “zero draft.” I then re-plot, working out any story or character problems, and then I rewrite the entire manuscript slowly. During the “zero draft” stage, I’ve written 14k words in one day. During the slow re-write, it is more like 1k a day, although this will ramp up towards the end. 

Oh, and I write on my iPhone. Because of long-standing fibromyalgia/RSI, I can’t type on a keyboard without considerable pain. So my last four novels have been written on my iPhone!

8. Do you have advice for aspiring writers?

Persevere. The path to publication is long and hard and riddled with rejection — at least it is for most people. You don’t need a particularly thick skin, but you do need the ability to get up when you’re knocked down and try again. 

Moreover, unless you are one of the lucky few, story-telling is truly a craft that must be learned through years of practice and thousands of words upon the page. If you truly love it, stay the course — and that will put you miles ahead of the others who have quit when the business got too hard. Hint: the writing business is always hard. 

9. What’s your favorite part of the writing process?

Gosh, this is a hard question, because I kinda like all of it! I think my two favorite are the “zero draft” stage (see above) because this is when the story comes to life and then the re-write stage, where I get to make my words pretty. So, surprise, surprise my favorite parts are the writing parts. Like I said, I do enjoy editing but that feels more like “work,” while the writing feels more like joy. 

authPintip cropped-2Website/Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Goodreads

Pintip Dunn graduated from Harvard University, magna cum laude, with an A.B. in English Literature and Language. She received her J.D. at Yale Law School, where she was an editor of the YALE LAW JOURNAL. She also published an article in the YALE LAW JOURNAL, entitled, “How Judges Overrule: Speech Act Theory and the Doctrine of Stare Decisis,”

Pintip is represented by literary agent Beth Miller of Writers House. She is a 2012 RWA Golden Heart® finalist and a 2014 double-finalist. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Washington Romance Writers, YARWA, and The Golden Network.

She lives with her husband and children in Maryland. You can learn more about Pintip and her books at www.pintipdunn.com

Keep reading and check back for my review of Forget Tomorrow on November 3rd!

Jordan