Writing

NJRW’s 30K Writing Challenge Complete!

30k-write-a-way1I just cleared NJRW’s 30K writing challenge for the month of February–JeRoWriMo! Thank god for canned food and classic Nintendo which kept my husband alive while the laptop ate my brain.  Love you, Dave.  🙂

Also, thanks to everyone in the JeRoWriMo loop who kept me super motivated so I could stay up way past my teacherly bedtime and listen to my muse.

Michelle Joyce Bond

Writing

Hey Jersey Writers–Check Out the NJRW 2014 Put Your Heart In A Book Conference!

NJRW 2014 Put Your Heart in a Book Conference — “30 Years of Happily Ever Afters!”

 

http://www.njromancewriters.org/conference.html

 

October 17-18, 2014
Renaissance Woodbridge Hotel 

Iselin, NJ

Early Bird Pricing: June 1-July 31st


NJRW Member $215 – Non-member $240

Prices go up August 1st, so get in early.

Don’t miss this opportunity to take your writing to the next level. This year’s Put Your Heart in a Book Conference is shaping up to be the best ever.

Susan Mallery: Keynote Speaker
Stella Cameron: Luncheon Speaker
Jennifer Probst: Special Presentation*
Roxanne St Claire: 3-hour Pre-Conference Workshop ($45)

* For first 100 registrants

Some things to expect:

  • Workshops for writers of all levels 
  • Editor/Agent Appointments
  • Literacy Book Fair/Author Signings (a portion of proceeds will go to Literacy Volunteers of NJ)
  • Opportunities for Networking 

Here is a partial list of agents and editors scheduled to attend:


Agents:

  • Louis Fury, The Bent Agency 
  • Jita Fumich, Folio Literary Management 
  • Lisa Rodgers, JABberwocky Literary Agency 
  • Annelise Robey, Jane Rotrosen Agency 
  • Lori Perkins, LPerkins Agency 
  • Sarah E. Younger, Nancy Yost Literary Agency 
  • Stephany Evans, FinePrint Literary Management


Editors:

  • Nicole Fisher, Avon Books 
  • Sarah Murphy, Bantam Dell 
  • Angela James, Carina Press 
  • Treva Harte, Loose Id 
  • Lauren McKenna, Pocket Books 
  • Mary Altman, Sourcebooks Inc. 
  • Cat Clyne, Sourcebooks Inc. 
  • Eileen Rothschild, St. Martin’s Press 
  • Melissa Ann Singer, Tor/Forge 
  • Julie Mianecki, Berkley 
  • Kristine Swartz, Berkley

… … and more to come

Workshop presenters:

  • Madeline Hunter, PAN/PUB Retreat Kickoff Speaker 
  • Susan Mallery, Screw The Muse, I’m on a Deadline 
  • Stella Cameron, People Make Your Story 
  • Jennifer Probst and Jen Talty, Sweet, Snarky, or Sexpot: What Makes a Good Heroine? 
  • Christine Bush, First Timer’s Workshop 
  • Anne Walradt, Writing the “Can’t Put It Down” Novel 
  • Laura Curtis, Personal Branding for Authors 
  • Nancy Herness, Sell Your Book, Not Your Soul 
  • Julie Ann Walker, The Hard and Fast Rules for a Kickass Query & How to Make Your Characters THUNDER 
  • Beth Ciotta, Derring-Do, The Passionate Writer’s Guide to Success 
  • Julie Rowe, Taming Twitter 2-hour block 
  • Mary Burton, Novel Write 
  • Joanna Shupe, Tech Tips for Writers 
  • Judi Fennell, How to Self Publish & Novel In A Nutshell 
  • Tina Gallagher and Pattie Giordani, Pitch Perfect 
  • Nisha Sharma, GMC in the YA Novel & Score! Game plans, Strategies, and Plays 
  • Sandra Pesso, Work Your Social Media Platform like a Rockstar 
  • Shiloh Walker, Draw Me A Story 
  • Jen Talty, Building Your Author Brand 
  • Bob Mayer, Write It Forward 
  • Jen Talty and Bob Mayer, E-pub, POD, and the Future of Publishing 
  • Laura Kaye, The Secrets Behind Becoming a Bestseller 
  • Kristen Painter, Worldbuilding Through a Series 
  • Diana Cosby, Marketing for Impact 2-hour block 
  • Donna MacMeans, Grab Your Reader on Page 1 
  • Mallory Braus and Elizabeth London, Top Ten Ways You’re Showing Rather Than Telling 
  • Laurie Cooper, This Bridge Looks REALLY High 
  • K.M. Fawcett and Cathy Tully, Looking for Action? Writing Believable Fight Scenes 
  • Leigh Duncan, A Walk In The Plot 
  • Victoria Pinder, Be Your Own Agent 
  • Judith Roth, The Art of Self-Editing 
  • Sarah Younger 
  • Jeanette Grey, Domains and Graphics 
  • Vicky Sue Dreiling, Make Them Laugh, Make Them Cry 
  • Maria Snyder, Classic Writing Mistakes 
  • Susan Wall, Book Trailer Boot Camp 
  • Louisa Edwards, How to Give and Get Better Critiques 
  • Peter Andrews, How to Write Fast 
  • Laurie Bevin Cooper, How to Make Opportunities Happen 
  • Paula Scardamalia, How to Use the Tarot To Write

 

To register, click here!

 

If you have questions, please contact: DC “Desi” Stone, NJRW’s 2014 Conference Chair, at confchair@njromancewriters.org or, Jackson D’Lynne, Assistant Chair, at jacksondlynne@yahoo.com

For registration questions, please contact: Jenny Baskwell Registrar, at registrar@njromancewriters.org.

We will be adding to the list of agents and editors, so please check our web site www.njromancewriters.org frequently for updates!

Writing

Why (In My Opinion) Books Built Around Characters Are Better

imageThe best books are the ones that change you–the reader.  They stay with you for a long time and lead you to question or think about either yourself or the world around you in a different way.

That is–those are the best books in my opinion.  There are plot junkies out there who might say otherwise, but they may never have been shown how to find the deeper meanings in literature.  To read closely.  To probe.  Once you learn how to do this, you don’t see movies, read books, or even listen to music in the same way ever again.  You’re always searching for hidden treasure…and are sometimes disappointed when you find yourself treading shallow water.

There are so many facets or ways of looking at a good book that it’s really unfair to take it all apart.  What makes it work is the symphony all those pieces create when they work together.

But If I were to start in one place and say, “Here is the heart of the story,” I would start with character.  In order to create that depth of emotion and change in attitude so desirable in a well-written book, you need to be able to access the reader on a fundamental level.  The only way you are going to get there is through strong characters.  Characters are vehicles for the reader.  We follow them as they themselves are tortured, defeated, learn, grow, and change.  Build your book around a strong, multi-faceted character with flaws and goals.  Put them in a situation that is really uncomfortable for them–that will force them to change.  Raise the stakes and make their goals something they care deeply about.  Then, hold that carrot away from them.  What will your protagonist give up to achieve his or her goal?  Their job?  Their life?  A piece of their soul?

Concepts in books can also be powerful, but they fall flat without a strong character to drive the plot.  This is a mistake I sometimes see in the paranormal and sci fi / fantasy genres.  Writers get so carried away with the CONCEPT that they forget about CHARACTERS and wind up with these wishy-washy protagonist stand-in who has no real substance or goals.

Say, for example, you decide to write a book about mermaids.  You have a few ideas for scenes in mind and start writing an outline, including this really cool part where your mermaid chick sings the highest note ever and uses mermaid magic to create a giant tidal wave of awesome!  Then you begin to write–forgetting to develop your character (or unaware that you should).  As you draft, you put words into your protagonist’s mouth and force her to do things—not in order to achieve true change but moves that are completely (sometimes laughably) out of character.  You force your character to do these things because you want something in the plot to happen just the way you had imagined.  Really, it should go the other way around.  Character CHOICES should drive the plot, and these choices need to be based on significant goals.

Let me ask you something.  When a reader turns the last page of your book, do you want them to say, “Gee, such-and-such scene was pretty cool, and I really loved the magic at the end,” or would you rather hear them say, “OMG, that book really messed with me!  I couldn’t put it down because I had to see what happened to (insert your protagonist here).  It really makes me think…(insert personal insight here).”

Now I’m really interested to hear your thoughts because I have a feeling some of you will disagree with me. 🙂

Would you rather have a plot junkie as a reader who just eats up the cool stuff that happens or a reader who reads deeply and who might be changed for all time by your awesome writing?

Michelle Joyce Bond

Writing

Best Craft Book (In My Opinion) of All Time: THANKS, BUT THIS ISN’T FOR US by Jessica Page Morrell

untitledIt is my firm belief that any writer, novice to pro, can benefit from reading this “(Sort of) Compassionate Guide to Why Your Writing Is Being Rejected” written by an editor who has seen it all. Entertaining and informative, she reveals common pitfalls and guides writers to write the best book possible–beginning with the underpinnings of fiction including plot, conflict, and character. She then moves outward in chapters on sensory detail, dialogue, style, emotion, and more. I come back to this book at least once a year, especially when I’m in the planning stages of my writing. If you are a novice–even if you’ve never submitted a manuscript–consider it your duty to pick up this book!  Seriously…READ IT.

Michelle Joyce Bond

Writing

Leave Space for the Reader to Inhabit

image          A plot—no matter what the genre—should be like a jigsaw puzzle: complex and satisfying to piece together. Stop turning it into puzzle blocks.

          “Careful! The square block goes there!”

          “I know. Put down the megaphone.”

          This kind of hand-holding is apparently the mark of a novice writer.  Limited to a scene, it often takes the form of telling rather than showing.

          Bad: She could see in his penetratingly awesome eyes that he loved her.

          Worse: It was clear that he really loved her. “Kiss me, baby,” he said, throwing his arms wide.

          Please, DO NOT tell how your character is feeling. Show it. Be subtle—especially when tackling something as multi-faceted and unique-to-character as love. Oh, and as a rule, try not to use the word “love” when writing about it.

          On the scale of an entire novel, the concept of “leaving space” applies to your characters’ development. This means that you are (or should be) revealing backstory in pieces—carefully calculated bits that give readers the exact amount of information they need in order to understand what they are witnessing. No more. No less.

          This also means that you are (or should be) giving us hints to your characters’ endpoints—exactly what will they be like by the end of the book? How will they change (or not change)?  Watching this evolution should be exciting for the reader, and surprises are welcome. Some genres dictate a specific endpoint for characters, but that doesn’t mean you can’t shake it up on the way there or challenge the troupes of your genre.

          Remember, it is your job to entertain. If you are standing next to me and shouting in my face that your character, Bob, is feeling lonely, desperate, and is about to do something very, very bad…I’m sorry. I’m just not as interested as if I just saw a figure with a flash of silver in her hand disappear into the darkness. I want to follow that character. In her story, there is space for me to breathe. And a reason to follow.

          Do you struggle to leave space for the reader to inhabit?

          Also, have you read any books that strike that perfect balance, pulling us along with the promise of learning more?

          Michelle Joyce Bond

Writing

Mission: Annoy Everyone By Reading Like a Writer

imagePeople who read like writers add layers of complexity to their understanding of written work.  We reverse engineer novels, trying to figure out exactly how an author put it all together.  This is in addition to normal regiment of deconstruction we usually apply to books, picking out theme, structure, figurative language, characterization, conflict, etc.

Why do we do it?  It’s…well, it’s fun!  Narratives are like abstract puzzles.  In my mind, they’re meant to be taken apart and their pieces examined to see how they both echo and add up to the larger whole.

I wonder about the process of a writer. How did this masterpiece (or pile of mush) I’m reading come to be? How can studying the choices the writer made help me improve my own writing?

When you read like a writer, you annoy the people around you by over-analyzing everything.  This is part of the fun…and boy am I going to have a lot of fun with you.

So here I present a new mission I’m adding to my blog: to deconstruct good YA paranormal books, focusing on what writers can learn from them.

My job and hobby make it difficult to find time to read, but I aim to get in as many quality books as I can.  Now, I need your help!

Have you read any YA paranormal books (preferably romance) that will blow my mind and keep me up all night thinking?  I’m looking for books that are well-written exemplars for writers to use as a model for their own craft.

Hit me with some good books!

Michelle Joyce Bond

Writing

Countdown to Carousel: My Year-to-30 “Bucket List”

imageI’ll be turning 29 this week, but aside from planning a huge Logan’s Run themed party (due to take place a year from now), I haven’t given much thought to what I’ll do with my last green year.  So, here goes my abbreviated goodbye-to-my-roaring-twenties “bucket list.”

1. recline in a random field of authentic wildflowers

2. swim in another ocean

3. network with more writers, getting to know them and their work

4. read a ton of excellent books–can’t stop adding to my Goodreads list!

5. maybe–hopefully–get on the road to publication with my last book (in which I play with time)

6. write the fun, cynical, existential, paranormal romance I just started (in which I play with space)

7. write a ton of awesome curriculum

8. make life-long readers and writers out of some young minds

9. get out of the country and see something amazing

10. stop…and look around

What do you think?  Anything I should add?

By the way, if you’ve never seen the 70s cult classic Logan’s Run, look it up.  It’s one of those movies that, at times, is so bad it’s good, but it’s concept is one that always stuck with me.  In the simplest terms, Logan is a ” sandman” who lives in a post-apocalyptic, dome city.  His job it is to kill people over the age thirty who don’t willingly self-destruct at “carousel.”  See it!

Michelle Joyce Bond