Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Why You Should Enter Contests

With all the writing I'm sure you have to do, entering contests can seem like a frivolous waste of time and resources. But there are some amazing rewards if you take that time and use it wisely. Here's why you should enter literary contests.

1) They give you a break from your old projects. Sometimes a project can get tedious. You look at it as more of a chore than a pleasure, or you have writer's block. You just can get that scene to flesh out quite right, no matter how many hours you spend with the page. Writing contests will give you fresh material to work with. They can revitalize your drive so that you come back to your manuscript with new eyes and ideas.

2) They stretch your abilities and comfort level. When you're given specific instructions and prompts, you need to work within that framework. Having to create something new within known boundaries can sharpen your skills. Perhaps the contest you are interested in involves a different genre than the one in which you write. Or it forces a nonfiction story out of you. Or gives you a scene you'd never have come up with on your own. Whatever the case, it can become a way to cover new ground.

3) They provide networking opportunities. A whole host of new people, people that follow the site where the contest is being hosted, or follow the prize-givers or are interested in slightly different literary tastes than you are. You're all brought together through a love of the written word in a way you might not have been otherwise. Read the other entrants' pieces, comment, make friends. You never know who could stick with you in the long run.

4) You increase your platform. Even if you don't win and don't talk to anyone, even if you simply submit your writing, that piece is now available for others to read, and hopefully like. They'll associate your author name with this avenue and maybe branch out to look at your other stuff. You'll end up with more recognition than you would simply staring at a word document.

5) Sometimes...you win. I entered a competition to win a publishing contract through No Boundaries Press. It was hosted by After Dark Online. They do this contest every few months. I came across it on my Twitter feed, quite by accident. And that morning, I wrote a thousand words for them and posted it up.

And I won.

So now I have a book under contract before it's even been completed.

For a brand new author with only one piece under my belt, that's some good news!

Enter contests. You never know when you'll win.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Guest Post: How to Write When You're Too Busy

Today I'm guest blogging over at Three Wicked Writers, on how to write when you're just too busy. Here's the intro...the five tips are over there! You should do it. If I can do it, you can do it.

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I’m a stay-at-home / work-at-home mom and one of the largest battles we face is that we don’t do anything. Our lives consist of trash TV, raising a few super-attached, maladjusted brats, and maybe cooking dinner. If it doesn’t interfere with our bon-bon eating, of course.

You can imagine how upset I was to find that writers face the same nonsense. If you write for a living, apparently you don’t do anything.
Wrong.

Writing is hard. It takes dedication, belief in  yourself, some kind of skill with the English language, and most of all, time. It takes a lot of time.

So, when people say they’d love to write a book, but they’re too busy, I totally get it. If you don’t make time for it, and make time for it consistently, it will never get done. Here are a few ways I’ve found to do it.

Read more here!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Hit and Stay RELEASED

My debut romantic suspense has been released! Hit and Stay, by Ninette Swann.


How very exciting! Go find it here at Resplendence Publishing.

If you'd like a taste of it, here's the first bit.




“Okay, everybody, stand back. I said stand back! Nothing to see here. Move along.” Jake Harrison elbowed his way through the gathering crowd. He had to squeeze his large frame between two hysterical women, and he grimaced as he struggled through the front row of bystanders who jostled each other mercilessly, trying to get a better look at the beautiful cyclist sprawled out on the pavement. Her bike lay crumpled on the other side of the road.

It appeared to be a typical hit and run.

“Stand back. I’m police.” Even without his uniform, Jake knew he sounded authoritative enough to keep the crowd at bay.

His breath caught in his throat when he saw her. Andrea Wadsworth wasn’t just any beauty. The flaxen-haired socialite was an icon in this part of Illinois. Though quiet and seemingly shy, her betrothal to the mayor’s son nearly six months ago had put her in the headlines all the way out to Chicago.

Her fiancé, John Waters, had kept her there with his glad-handing and ambition. He was thought to be making a play for the Senate and, at least once a week, Jake saw pictures of the couple splashed all over the society pages of the local paper. They cut ribbons, attended galas and lent their gravitas to charity organizations. At every public event, Andrea was glued to her fiancé’s side, silent, smiling and demurely dressed.

So where was he now? Jake looked up, scanning the crowd methodically. He found no trace of the slicked-back politician-to-be.

That’s odd, Jake thought. Surely, with all Waters’ connections, someone had contacted him right away. Jake had been on the scene for at least fifteen minutes. Where was Waters?

The girl on the ground moaned softly and shifted her left leg.

“Don’t move,” Jake whispered, leaning in to her. “I’m calling for help.”

He dialed the police station’s main line from his cell phone. Though he had been on administrative leave for about a half a year now, he still knew the number by heart. Before he’d even gotten through, he heard the sirens in the distance. Someone in the crowd must have called.

Jake shook his head. Something was off, but he couldn’t put his finger on what. He turned his attention to the girl who was slowly coming around. He shushed her as she tried to raise her head.

“Quiet now,” he said. “You’ve had a rough time of it. We’ve got people on the way. Lie still.”

Her blue eyes appeared dazed then froze with worry. “Who are you?” she said in a croaky voice. She tried to boost herself up on her elbows.

“Hey,” Jake whispered. “Don’t move. You’ve had quite a jolt. Rest. Help is coming.”

“Where am I?” she asked, her voice quivering and soft.

Jake wanted to reach out and smooth her tangled blonde hair from her brow, but he resisted. As frightened as she was, the contact would do neither of them any good. He’d learned the hard way not to react emotionally to victims, no matter how beautiful they were or how vulnerable they appeared. If he wanted back on the force, he’d have to be very careful.

“Don’t worry,” he said. “Officers and medics are on their way.”

She acknowledged his words with a half-smile and visibly relaxed.

While he waited for backup, Jake’s professional eye raked over her body, trying to assess the extent of her injuries. Andrea Wadsworth was about five-foot-nine, tanned and in top shape. The papers said she was about twenty-five years old. Dressed in a fitted T-shirt and jeans, she wasn’t properly attired for cycling. She wasn’t even wearing a helmet. A red, racing bike sat crumpled on the other side of the road. It was a hit and run.

A shout from the crowd broke through, and Jake turned his head.

“Jake, hey Jake!” The whiny voice was irritatingly loud against the murmur of the other onlookers. Jake wiped his hair from his forehead. The stale, late-summer air kept the hardtop steaming even as the sun set low in the sky. Within seconds, a wiry man wearing squared hipster glasses had him by the elbow. “What’s the story here, Jake?”

“You should know, Burt,” Jake said with a sigh. “You’re the news, not me.”

“Aw, come on, Jake. Throw me a bone. This crash is going to take me hours to shoot, and my wife’s about to kill me for working so much overtime. Couldn’t this broad have gotten herself run over during business hours?”

Jake blanched. Shop humor, but still, so tasteless. The only people more hardboiled than police officers were news reporters.

“If you want a story, go track down Waters. Don’t you have eyes? This is his fiancée.”

Burt shook him jocularly as if they were old friends. Jake stepped away. Burt Bellows was no friend of his. Not anymore.

“That ain’t my angle,” Burt said. “I’m just here to take pictures of the scene and write five-hundred words about it before deadline. And I’m lucky I got here so quick. One of my guys called in with a tip.”

“Good to know we’ve got bulldogs like you to sniff out the story.” Jake rolled his eyes.

The ambulance had arrived, and officers were making their way to the scene. Jake watched silently as four men fitted the blonde for a neck brace and gingerly placed her onto a stretcher.

“Jake, you there, bro?” Burt tapped him on the shoulder, the motion filling Jake with annoyance. “Just give me the basic details, and I’ll be out of your hair, my hand to God.”

“I only know what you know.”

“Bullshit.” The reporter snorted, his greasy curls bouncy around his shoulders. “First of all, you know what I need. What time did this happen, what happened, how long is the investigation going to take and where’s she going?”

“I don’t—”

“Don’t mess with me. I’m hungry. And since I can tell you’re so invested in this girl, I’ll tell you a secret as soon as you’re done.”

“I’m not invested in her.”

“Then why protect her privacy? You know the chief’s just going to make a statement anyway. Save him the trouble. I won’t use your name.”

Jake rubbed his eyes as the ambulance doors slammed shut and the siren started to wail.

“Her name is Andrea Wadsworth. It looks like she was cycling down Main when a car must have hit her. That must be her bike over there. No helmet. Looks like a hit and run. The investigation will go on for as long as it takes, and she’s probably headed to St. Mary’s. That’s all I know.”

“Okay, great. Thanks, pal.”

Jake waited, his eyebrows raised.

Burt laughed at him and said, “See, I knew you were invested. Word back at the paper is that this was a suicide attempt. But you didn’t hear it from me.”

Friday, May 11, 2012

Feature & Follow (3)

Sunday is mother's day, and I'm a mother who's not getting anything! (That I know of...I doubt my three year old twins pay much attention to the calendar. Or my husband, either. He'll probably get me a gift after I get him one for Father's Day, all, "Oh, I forgot this was a thing.")

So, I give one to myself. Hopefully a few new followers.

The question this wee at Parajunkee's and Alison's Blog Hop is: What's your favorite book with strong mother / child relations.

Lolita?

Just kidding. Although I always did like Charlotte.

How about...wow, I just don't read books with strong mother characters, I guess. I want to say House on Mango Street? Does that sound right?

Anyway, here's the button, and down below is the linky. Read some better answers than mine!



Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Author Interview: Vanessa Morgan (A Good Man)

Vanessa Morgan smashes the horror world with her newest release, A Good Man. The screenplay is already making waves, and is currently in production, so far as I know.

I was lucky enough to grab Vanessa for an interview about this, her third work.






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First...the blurb!

A Good Man (screenplay)



Do you like Dexter and American Psycho? Then chances are you will love A Good Man.

Louis Caron is a good man – he's a vegetarian, feeds homeless people, takes care of animals and is converned with the ecological well-being of the planet. But his altruism has a sinister edge – he's a vampire and local detective Taglioni becomes increasingly suspicious of him. Louis' attempt to escape the police will take him on a journey into his own private hell where he is not only forced to confront his worst fears, but where he will also destroy the lives of those he cares about.


What makes A Good Man stand out on the "shelf?"

A Good Man is a dark comedy with a few horror elements. I could best describe it as American Psycho with a vampire. Some people have also compared it to the TV-series Dexter. It's a fun and moving story and it turns the vampire myth completely on its head. It's not the kind of vampire story you've seen before and if you think you know how things will turn out, then think again.



What was your favorite part about writing the story / of the story itself?

I really enjoyed writing some of the funniest scenes in A Good Man, such as the one with Butterfly and Matthias. I had so much fun writing them because they were based on people I know and real stories my friends told me. Sometimes, the things you see and hear in real life can be more interesting than the things you invent yourself.

Another favorite part from A Good Man is the ending. It's the reason why I wanted to write this story. It's devastating and it might not be to everyone's liking, but I think it's impossible not to be affected by it.



How have you grown as an author?

Every new story makes you grow as an author, especially if you take the rewriting phase seriously. A Good Man in particular was helpful, because I wrote it for a production company and they gave advice and constructive criticism along the way.



What kind of audience is best for your books?

My first two books, Drowned Sorrow and The Strangers Outside, is for everyone who likes to read Stephen King and other authors of supernatural suspense. They're rich in atmosphere and visuals and, apparently, they read like a movie, so they should appeal to movie afficionados as well. A Good Man, on the other hand, is for everyone who wants to try out something different. It has a structure similar to many other thrillers, but the characters, theme and ending will definitely surprise you. 



What projects are you working on right now?

As some of you already know, A Good Man is now in pre-production and ready to be turned into a French feature film. Director, actors and part of the crew are already attached to the project and the production is finalizing the funding phase. It will be shot later this year and I will keep everyone up to date by posting behind-the-scenes pictures on my blog. Apart from the film adaptation of A Good Man, I'm currently working on seven different projects, both movies and books and I'm lucky to be able to collaborate with some of the most talented directors and artists in Europe. One of those projects is a book based on the web comic about my cat (http://aHYPERLINK "http://avalon-lion.blogspot.com/"valon-lion.blogspot.com).



What are your favorite books?

Everything by Daph Nobody (Blood Bar, L'enfant nucléaire), Carol Drinkwater (The Olive Farm, The Olive Season), John Saul (Second Child) and Michel Houellebecq (Elementary Particles).



What is your favorite form of the written word and why? (Poetry, prose, verse)

I definitely prefer screenplays. Prose comes second.



Have you ever given up on a project?

I never give up on a project. There's always a way to accomplish what I want. It might take some time, it might be hard, but there's always a solution to every problem and with perseverence everything becomes possible.



Where can people find your new release?

Some places where you can find A Good Man are Amazon US, Amazon UK and Smashwords. It's also available in French as Un homme bien on Amazon US, Amazon FR and Smashwords. 

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Screenwriter and novelist Vanessa Morgan is known as the 'female version of Stephen King'. You can find out more about Vanessa Morgan and her work by going to her personal blog http://vanessa-morgan.blogspot.com. If you like cats, you might also like the web comic about her cat Avalon at http://avalon-lion.blogspot.com.



Other Books by Vanessa Morgan



The Strangers Outside (short story)

Two sisters, Jennifer and Louise, return to their remote holiday cottage after a day at the seaside. But little do they know they're being surrounded. Soon after their arrival, the girls will come face to face with the strangers outside. When the assailants make their intentions known, things take a shockingly terrible turn and an intense battle for survival will begin.



Drowned Sorrow (novel)

Megan Blackwood has just lost her son in a terrible accident. Now she has come to Moonlight Creek with her teenage daughter Jenna, hoping that a change of scenery might help to put her life back together. But something odd is going on in Moonlight Creek. When rain falls over the village, the inhabitants commit grisly murders, leaving the village deserted with the first rays of sunshine. Beneath the lake's surface, an eerie presence watches... and waits... Waits to reveal a tragic past drowned in mystery and fear. One that doesn't bode well for visitors. By the time Megan realizes that her daughter is in danger, it might already be too late.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Feature and Follow Blog Hop

There is a blog hop going on for book review and author blogs.

Make sure to follow the hosts and the featured bloggers, then sign up right here!

The question for the post is what would you tell your favorite author.

My favorite author is Milan Kundera. I'd tell him to fuck off.

No, seriously. Maybe someday I'll get into it.



Anyway, here's your linky list!