Uncategorized

BENEATH US is now a Three-Time Finalist!

imageI was absolutely honored this week to learn that I am a finalist in the YA category of Chicago-North Romance Writers’ Fire & Ice Contest!

My YA paranormal BENEATH US also finaled in the North Texas Romance Writers’ Great Expectations Contest and the Celtic Hearts Romance Writers’ Golden Claddagh Contest.

Here’s a micro blurb: Reaper by birth–not by choice–Gail hasn’t dared visit the Netherworld since she accidentally killed her boyfriend. When a quirky, hot messenger from Death crashes into her life, she’s faced with a choice between her surface-world dreams and the crumbling cities below.

If you have a manuscript that you feel is ready but haven’t entered a contest yet–consider it. Even if you do not final, the feedback you receive from the judges is invaluable.

Michelle Joyce Bond

Advertisements
Stick Figures

NJRW’s Put Your Heart in a Book Conference ROCKED!

imageSomewhere between grading, lesson plans, curriculum, and the general pull-my-hair-out stress that comes with the beginning of the school year, I lost myself.

All that was left of me dissolved into my job.  Still–and I hold true to this–never a day without a word!  I crawl into bed exhausted, cuddle up with a notebook, and write, write, write because there is no therapy like word therapy.  I have literally been sleeping with notebooks.

But today…I got to wear my writer’s hat in the daylight.

The expertise and enthusiasm of the presenters at our workshops gave me the little kick I needed to get back on the book train. There are too many “best parts” to count, but Roxanne St. Claire’s workshop on scene revision definitely resonated with me.  We share a similar revision process which I won’t go into detail about, but it was good to hear that I’m not the only one who stops in the middle of her first draft and goes back to rewrite it from the top.

On that note, I’m returning to my latest WIP, mid-draft revising it for the second time and writing (finally!) to the end. So here’s to finding myself again, buried deep in the words.

Have you ever been to a writing conference?  If so, what’s the best piece of advice you learned there?

Michelle Joyce Bond

YA Romance Reviews

Read Like a Writer: THROUGH TO YOU by Emily Hainsworth

Through to You HC_FinalIf you’re looking for a writer whose work typifies the phrase, “Leave space for the reader to inhabit,” Hainsworth is your girl.

It’s difficult for me to allow myself the luxury of reading for long, long stretches, but once I slipped into this book, it was difficult to escape.  The prose of this YA novel is so eloquently written, each detail so carefully selected as to–at times–be almost sparse, that I glided through it in just a few hours.  Everything from the protagonist’s voice to the description of the setting feels authentic, giving the reader just enough detail to enjoy, picture, and relate to what occurs in a given scene–allowing them plenty of latitude to fill in pieces for themselves.  It’s fitting that, in this novel which plays with the concept of moving through a portal to another reality, Hainsworth has left the perfect about of space for the reader to inhabit.  She draws us into her world by making room for us.

The story question, deceptively simple, raises all kinds of problems for Camden PIke: What if he were able to see his dead girlfriend, still alive in an alternate reality?  The setting, despite Camden’s ability to move between realities, is closed and simple, and the book’s cast of characters–limited.  By doing this, Hainsworth funnels the reader’s attention more toward the internal story–Cam’s struggle as he compares what he thought he knew about his girlfriend’s basic nature to her possessive, reckless behavior under the conditions of this alternate universe.  This is while Cam, at the same time, confronts another version of his own story where a positive attitude and different choices lead to greater success.  The blame for how his life turned out in his own reality rests squarely on his shoulders…with one small caveat.  Cam will learn that the people who enter his life–and those he makes an effort to keep close to him–ultimately help to make him a different person.

Hainsworth is one of those authors who makes it look easy but whose work, upon close examination, can be appreciated down tot he sentence level for exactly how much effort was put into it.  And this is only her first novel.  An immediate fan–I can’t wait to plunge into her next book.

Michelle Joyce Bond

 

 

Stick Figures

Why I Want to Be Published: A Somewhat Meta Review of Reviews

imageI don’t write negative book reviews.  My reasons for this are mostly selfish.  Perhaps one day I’ll be lucky enough to get published and a hypothetical bunch of people will write somewhat flattering reviews of my book…though I suppose scathingly harsh reviews wouldn’t be so bad (because, as the cliché goes, there’s no such thing as bad publicity).  But writers hope for good reviews since they’ve struggled to send that over-edited block of textual thought (which is, in the end, a rather solid abstraction of the fluid, unattainable work of the imagination) out into the universe…and they’re hoping to see ripples come back.

My husband once asked me, “Why is it so important to you that you get published?” The question stumped me.  I had plenty of reasons for writing–some selfish, some not– but publishing is more an issue of connectedness.  I don’t want fame.  I want people to have read my words, empathize with the characters, lose themselves a little bit in their lives, and be haunted by the ghost of the book even after they turned the last page.  I want them to think about it later.  That would mean something in the essence of the book moved from short-term enjoyment to long-term effect.  I want to–as corny as it sounds–move someone.

They say art is a mirror to life–that we react to books and paintings and music and other abstractions with the essence of the human element in them because we see something of ourselves.  So…if I make art, does it count as art if nobody is there to experience it?  (Insert tree falling in the woods metaphor here!)  Well, I suppose, I am reading it.  I see surprising bits of myself in my writing and react to them, so I guess there’s that.  But how much more cool is it to know that someone else read your human bits and are approximating the same thing that you are–that they are also human and their humanness is reacting to your humanness.  Fire catching fire.

And what if someone who read my book was kind enough to write a review?  That review would be another block of textual, abstracted, thoughty bits, but in it, I might see evidence of the fire I set.  And I guess that would make me feel…warm. 🙂

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

Stick Figures

Bad Metaphor Monday: Writing a Book is Like Crocheting a Blanket

imageThere’s a blanket on my bed I made seven years ago.  When I started it, I didn’t really know what it was going to wind up looking like.  I experimented with different colors and made a plan–the results of which I was very pleased.  It was fun to watch the blanket come together, and I can still see that learning/growing part of myself tangled in its threads.

When you’re learning to do something and you have passion for the subject, you breathe life into your work.  Put a few years into something, and you risk losing touch with that creative spark–that is–if you don’t make an effort to approach what you are doing from a new angle and keep an open mind.

Case in point, I decided to put together another granny square blanket.  Having completed the first blanket, I thought it would be a snap.  I planned it all ahead of time–picking the yarn and drawing a diagram.  There was no room left for experimentation, and though this blanket I’m piecing together now isn’t ugly…it’s not alive.  Perhaps I should’ve ditched the granny squares or blankets altogether and made–I don’t know–a wicked awesome hat with one of those giant pom-poms to smack me in the face when I walked down the street.  That, although dumb, would’ve been more exciting.

The same principle applies to writing.  Writers each have their own “process,” but if the book I’m writing now is any indication, that process needs to be flexible.  It would be nice to be able to plan everything out ahead of time, but I’m sure that is seldom the case with even the most seasoned authors.  I go through a long developing stage before I sit down to actually draft, but even then I find myself changing, changing, changing.

“Wouldn’t it be better if…”

“This part isn’t working…”

“Oh, I know.  I’ll…”

“Cat!  Get off the keyboard!”

Every new book is a new baby, and it’s our job as writers to give that baby what it needs.  My current baby would rather set fire to my scene cards than use them.  She coos when I begin writing off track into something completely different and, incidentally, better.  Hmm.

Michelle Joyce Bond

P.S.  My apologies for the second bad, cliché, book-is-a-baby metaphor.  Can’t help myself. 🙂

By the way writers, how is your book baby coming along?  Is he/she being fussy or is everything coming together as planned?