Tag Archives: YA books

Weekly Book Promotion Highlight

For this week’s book promotion highlight, I’m featuring the YA Action and Adventure giveaway and the Thriller Killer giveaway!

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Looking for young adult books with action and adventure? Check out this giveaway!

YA Action Adventure - Ebook Giveaway

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Wants books with thriller, mystery, and suspense themes? Try this giveaway!

Thriller Killer Ebook Giveaway

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(Note: These giveaways are hosted through Book Funnel. Authors will usually ask for your email address, and in most cases, the author will collect these addresses for their newsletters.)

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I hope you find a good book to read. Let me know if you would like to see more of these posts.  🙂

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Weekly Book Promotion Highlight

For this week’s book promotion highlight, we have the Super Spring Young Adult Reads giveaway and the Writers of SciFi April Giveaway!

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Looking for YA books? This giveaway has a large assortment of young adult genres.

Super Spring Young Adult Reads - Ebook Giveaway

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Prefer all things SciFi? Then check out this giveaway, which has a large selection of ebooks to choose from.

Writers of SciFi April Ebook Giveaway

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(Note: These giveaways are hosted through Book Funnel. Authors will usually ask for your email address, and in most cases, the author will collect these addresses for their newsletters.)

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I hope you find a good book to read. Let me know if you would like to see more of these posts.  🙂

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Thoughts on Writing – The Magic of Writing

When I was in high school, my language class read a short story about a man who spent his life on the river. When he first started sailing as a boy, the river was magical. The eddies and sand banks… he didn’t understand them, but they called his attention and made him want to know more. As he grew older, he learned to understand the river. To know what caused the eddies and where the dangerous currents hid, and as he learned, the river lost its magic.

I can’t remember if the story ended with him seeing the magic of the river again in his old age or not, but the story stuck with me (even if the name of that story and the author did not). (Edit from comments: The story is “Two Ways of Seeing A River” by Mark Twain).

Writing (like any profession), has the same problem.

When I was younger, reading was magical. It still is, but when I was younger I could pick up most any book on a topic I liked and there was a good chance I would enjoy it, going through book upon book without a problem. However, as I became more fascinated with the art of actually writing these stories, I began to dissect them. I wanted to know how they worked. Why they worked.

Piece by piece, I figured them out. I read books on writing, blogs on writing. I joined internet forums dedicated to writing. Slowly, I puzzled out what worked and what didn’t, and why.

At first, those pieces were difficult to see. I knew a certain story worked for me, but others didn’t. It was difficult to see why. The first time I remember truly understanding an aspect of why a story worked was when I read Darth Bane: Path of Destruction by Drew Karpyshyn, and then Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. I suddenly understood how to get in close to a character in third person and write from their point of view. I even wrote an alternate ending Star Wars fanfic based on this principle, and I’m still a teensy bit proud of it for that… even if it’s not my best work.

Later, when I read The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, a single line about the halo of mist around a streetlamp stood out to me, and when I read Rebekkah Ford’s Beyond the Eyes series and could actually smell the wet, autumn leaves in the forest, I began to see how zooming in on specific details could bring a story to life. I sought out more stories like these, stories which really brought out some aspect of writing to help me finally understand.

While working on Glitch (a Distant Horizon story with elements of horror), if I read a scene in a book that made me shiver, I reread that scene until I understood why. The example here is The Devouring by Simon Holt, in which one of the Devours has a deliciously creepy one-on-one conversation with the main character. Christine, by Steven King, helped me see the use of repetition of key, creepy phrases or scenes (the dream sequences). Pure by Julianna Baggott revealed the use of discordant imagery, beautifully described but terrifying in their own right.

Then there were books that taught me the value of relationships in stories. The Host, by Stephenie Meyer had me crying during a certain scene with the grandfather figure. It’s a rambunctiously wordy novel, but it’s good. The Girl with the Iron Touch has one of my favorite romances in a book, and I’m not really a romance reader. It revealed how to draw tension between the characters, and did a wonderful job distinguishing between sexual and romantic attraction, and utilizing both.

There are so many books that have been an influence on my writing, and they have all helped me to understand how a story works.

But recently, I’ve had a much harder time picking up a book and simply enjoying it. I used to spend hours in a book store poring over books and trying to decide which one to buy with my limited gift cards. Now? I go into a book store, hoping to find something, and often come out empty-handed and disappointed.

There’s a few possible reasons. One: I don’t have nearly as much free time for reading. I don’t feel as inclined to spend time reading a book unless it has something to do with what I’m currently writing. Two: (Something my husband pointed out) The topics I’m interested in might not be what the publishers are putting out right now.

For example, there was a period of time before The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins came out where I couldn’t find anything I wanted to read. This was the first time that happened and it was really, really discouraging. Then I found The Hunger Games in hardcover, and the concept intrigued me. I wanted to read it, but since I was limited on Barnes and Noble gift cards, and paperbacks were more sensible in terms of getting the most for my money, I didn’t pick it up.

Around a year later, I bought the paperback and loved it. I happily picked up the next two from the library. Later, I found a copy of Delirium by Lauren Oliver at Barnes and Noble, and while it didn’t seem like my thing (heavy romance), the premise intrigued me and the writing intrigued me, and I was hooked. I took a chance on the hardback and was glad I did.

Those kinds of finds are my favorites. The ones where you pick up a book at a bookstore and don’t want to put it down. But ever since I’ve put an emphasis on learning the writing craft, it’s been harder to find those books. I glance at a back cover blurb, and in what feels like just a couple seconds, without fully knowing what it’s about, I’ll put it back on the shelf. Books don’t catch my attention like they used to. Or maybe the book gets my attention and I slow down. I try reading the inside, but the writing style jars me and I just can’t convince myself that I’ll have enough patience to read through the whole book. The feeling is disappointing, especially given that the premise for that particular book sounded interesting and the characters were having a good conversation. The writing style just didn’t work for me. And the problem seemed to have been specifically within that book, because when I went and looked at Dust Lands: Raging Star by Moira Young, that book caught my attention. And the Dust Lands trilogy has a really interesting writing style. But the style of that series is so different that it didn’t push me away.

Problem Three: When I’m at a book store, I’m looking for something that I wouldn’t normally find. Something I don’t think the library currently has or could easily get. Which means that books that are popular and that I would love to read tend to get set aside. Now, if I really like them and I got a copy from the library, I might purchase my own copy later.

I admire the voracious readers who go through book after book and love them. Sometimes I feel like the man from the story who loved the river so much that he did everything he could to understand it, only to lose the magic because he understands it.

But at the same time, I don’t. Because some books still hook me from the start, drag me in unsuspecting, and take me for the whole wild ride.

I’m hoping the books I recently bought will do that… especially since I kept going back and forth in the YA section debating, “Do I risk buying that in hardback?”

“You know what? Yes, I think I do.”

I hope you enjoyed this post. 🙂 Do you ever have a hard time finding a book you want to read?

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Thoughts on Writing – Pantsing vs Plotting

I recently went to ConQuest, a science fiction and fantasy convention in Kansas City. It was amazing, to say the least, given that I’ve been wanting to attend a writing convention for the last few years. (Plus, I got a couple of my favorite books signed by Brandon Sanderson, and he is an awesome panelist. Just throwing that out there). Anyway, one of the writing panels I attended suggested that, when it came to writing blog posts, to write about what you’re working on.

Of course, I try to post once a week with behind the scenes information about my book cover design work. I hope that the information is useful in multiple ways. First, it highlights the book. Nothing big, but it does promote the cover for the publisher and the author. Second, it highlights what I’m doing. Yes, I hope that potential clients will see the work I’ve done and decide to hire me later down the road. But third, I hope these posts provide useful information to authors who are considering self-publishing, whether they hire me, someone else, or do it themselves. I also hope the posts provide useful information to other cover designers who are looking for tips or tricks to improve their work. I’ve certainly found blogs with behind the scenes information about book cover design useful in my learning. So please, let me know if you have questions about the cover design process. I’d be happy to offer insight if I can.

That being said, I also do a lot of writing. Writing (and studying writing and publishing) is my passion. I love seeing the worlds and characters I explore. So I’m going to try the advice the panel offered and see if I can write the occasional post about what I’m working on or what I’m contemplating… my thoughts on writing in general. You may hear a lot about my story-writing progress, and maybe my theories on publishing. And I’d love to hear your input. What do you think about the topics I’m thinking about?

With that in mind, let’s jump into the first topic that got me thinking about writing a blog post. Plotting versus pantsing. A plotter is someone who plots out everything in advance. They may have outlines, they may have fully developed worlds, they may have every scene figured out in their head before they even write a single sentence. Pantsers are the opposite. They write “by the seat of their pants,” and outlines drive them nuts. They want to see where their characters take them, and explore the world as they go.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being either. Everyone’s writing style is different. But there’s a good chance you’ll be a little bit of both, maybe leaning one direction more-so than the other. Me? It depends on the story I’m writing. Some of my original stories were very much “pantsed.” I daydreamed the story in my head, but when I wrote the scenes, I let the characters go where they wanted to go (or where the scenery seemed interesting). When I started work on my Distant Horizon universe (which got me back into novel-writing after doing short stories for a while), it was plotted out. My husband (then fiance) created the world for a role-play game between the two of us, and about halfway through the campaign, I decided to log the adventures of my main character in the form of the novel. We continued developing that story, which has been through many rounds of edits and beta readers, and is currently being queried to agents.

Since then, I’ve written a few other stories in the Distant Horizon universe. Some were more plotted out than others. They each had a general outline, but I had a little more freedom with them to maneuver and explore. And even with Distant Horizon, I did quite a bit of exploration with it outside of the original game before I was finally happy with the story as a novel.

Then last year, for Camp NaNoWriMo , I decided to write The Messenger of Gaia, a science fiction space novel based on another role-play my husband and I played. Though the role-play game relied very little on actual dice rolls, the written story was heavily plotted. I had a heavy-duty synopsis/outline I worked from, and I wrote an even larger outline for the second book, since I realized it would be a while before I get the chance to write the rough draft for that particular novel.

Now I’m working on a story called The Wishing Blade. YA/NA fantasy, based on a rough draft I wrote in 2003. The original manuscript is… rough. We’ll go with that. But I’ve been wanting to rewrite it for a long time (tried several times, in fact. Got 10,000 words in on one rewrite, but I made it too heavily adult fantasy and took it in a completely different direction, which didn’t work. I also wrote a version of it as play for a playwrighting class… that particular version is terribly over-dramatic and cheesy), and I finally got the idea that if I worked on the manuscript from scene to scene, rewriting but sticking to the original premise, it might actually work. So far… it has. I’m about 45,000 words into the new version, and I’m enjoying it. In a sense, I’m being a plotter. I’ve got an “outline” (the original rough draft) that I’m following. However, I’m also being a pantser. I’m not sticking directly to the original story (which had a 200-year’s war worth of plot holes), and if I see something interesting… I’m running with it. I’ll write it, daydream it, and see where it takes me. In the long run, I’ll have a stronger novel.

Does that mean I’ll always straddle the pantsing/plotting line? Nah. It’ll just depend on the story I’m trying to tell.

Am I enjoying playing with different methods of writing? You bet.

I suspect that if you’re having a hard time writing something, you might want to try a different method of writing. Instead of trying to force a story to follow an outline, you might see where the story takes you when you let it run wild. (Sort of wild. You may need to reign it back in after a bit). If running wild is causing your story to go in circles, try stepping back and outlining. Do whatever works best for you.

Now, I have a main character who is currently plotting an assassination to attend to. I hope this post was useful, and please let me know what you think. 🙂

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Behind the Scenes – Emma and the Cutting Horse

This is a cover for Melange Books.

For this cover, the author had already received permission to use  a silhouette image from the National Cutting Horse Association, so I used that as my starting point before creating the rest of the cover. In this case, I put more emphasis on the title and surroundings (while I initially had a stable in the background, I switched the image to an arena per the suggestion of the author). Since the book was meant for younger readers, I looked for a font that had a more kids-y feel while still relating to the story.

This is the end result:

SBibb - Emma and the Cutting Horse - Book Cover

Silhouette image used with permission from National Cutting Horse Association.

Other stock images from Dreamstime:

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photos-empty-horse-arena-image25648103
http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photos-tall-grass-image15537678
http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-field-tall-grass-image11303386

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