Tuesday, July 29, 2014

ANNOUNCEMENT TIME! *Confetti* Wherein Breakable has been acquired by Alloy Entertainment - and the new version is out TODAY!!!

You guys! It’s happening! It’s finally here! I can finally tell you EVERYTHING!!!!
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I’m hoping you’ll join me in the BIGGEST FLAIL-DANCE PARTY EVER because…
As of today, Breakable is now Every Ugly Word. Back in April it was acquired by Alloy Entertainment, who've helped me carve a diamond out of the rough. Check this out:
Every Ugly Word
Alloy Entertainment, July 29, 2014
When seventeen-year-old Ashley Watson walks through the halls of her high school, bullies taunt and shove her. She can’t go a day without fighting with her mother. And no matter how hard she tries, she can’t make her best friend, Matt, fall in love with her. But Ashley also has something no one else does: a literal glimpse into the future. When Ashley looks into the mirror, she can see her twenty-three-year-old self.
Her older self has been through it all already—she endured the bullying, survived the heartbreak, and heard every ugly word her classmates threw at her. But her older self is also keeping a dark secret: Something terrible is about to happen to Ashley. Something that will change her life forever. Something even her older self is powerless to stop.
Perfect for fans of Thirteen Reasons Why and The List, Every Ugly Word is a gripping and emotional story about the devastating consequences of bullying.
Buy it for your Kindle, here.
It's slimmer, richer and 100% better than the original, in my opinion. Same premise and basic plot, same characters - but a lot of new content and a completely new delivery of the ending.
I’m so excited because this story, which has always been so close to my heart, has finally found a home -- a home with people who are mind-blowingly talented, passionate about my characters and story, and so much fun to work with that I’m keep waking up and pinching myself to make sure it’s all real.
Here's a quote from Alloy's press release that just went out a few minutes ago:
“One of our strengths is working with talented authors to create and develop properties that have mass 
entertainment appeal,” said Leslie Morgenstein, President of Alloy Entertainment. “This program is an 
exciting extension of our business and will allow us to leverage Amazon’s ability to distribute to an 
incredibly diverse and broad readership.” 
Alloy are a subsidiary of Warner Brothers, they've published over 75 NYT bestsellers, and they're the company behind Gossip Girl, Vampire Diaries, and Pretty Little Liars (just to name a few!) In fact, my incredible editor edited the books behind all those shows.
(I’ve known that for months and it still makes me do this:)
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The people I’ve had a chance to work with are SO talented, it blows my mind pretty much every time they open their mouths.
This habit of picking up independently published books and re-vamping and re-releasing is a new venture for them, so it’s exciting on two levels because Alloy aren’t just re-releasing my book today, they’re also putting out two other formerly independently published YA books! (You should totally check out Heather Hildenbrand's Imitation, and Tracy Banghart's Rebel Wing).
The last few months have been a whirlwind. It’s still surreal to me. But don’t worry, I’m going to share.
I’ll spend the next few weeks taking you through the fun things that have happened, the things I’ve learned about the publishing industry, and all about the writing journey. But for today I just want to celebrate a dream come true.
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So even if you aren’t buying books today, please join me in a super-big dance party. Because I can attest to the fact that even in these days and times, real dreams – the ones you’ve worked really hard for – really do come true.
*Cries happy tears*
More from me when I’ve floated down off cloud nine. Until then, check out the new Amazon page, the Goodreads page, and all the lovely new friends I’ve been making as we go through this process of turning from indie to traditional together, here, and here.
Your Turn: Share the news via the rafflecopter below, and go into the draw to win a $25 Amazon Gift Voucher or a copy of Every Ugly Word!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Just 24 hours until the NEWS is out!!!

Okay, so I can’t actually TELL you what’s happening until tomorrow, but I can say this:  Prepare to dance with me, please. And have your finger primed for the 1-click button.
Also, “Gossip Girl”.
But that’s toeing the line, so I’m leaving now before I start vomiting information.
See you tomorrow!!!
Your Turn: Tell me a joke. Or link me to something. Or…something. Distract me! Please!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Critical Plot Elements - Beginnings #3 - The Plot Mirror

***Reposting to defy spam/click-bots
I’ll put my hand up and recognize the following is NOT a ‘necessity’ to any manuscript.  But I’ve spoken with and read articles from several authors who consider it so.

The recipe for this technique I’ve nicknamed The Plot Mirror is quite simple:
Create a scene in the first third of your book which reflects (to a lesser degree) the worst-case-scenario events of your climax. In that first scene, let the protagonist lose or fail.

It’s simple foreshadowing, giving the reader a taste of the fearful events at the end of the book with the added tension of seeing the protagonist fail.  Hence, when the be-all-end-all events of the climax are approaching the reader is frightened – we can see the worst-case-scenario possibilities.  Then, when those circumstances are upon us, we can’t help being scared spitless that the protagonist will lose again.
This technique creates symmetry, builds tension and is a great way to establish a plausible foundation for your ending.

If you aren’t sure what I mean, here are some skeletal examples:

In fantasy: The Princess tells her aged father she’s become aware of a plot to overthrow him.  The neighboring king – a vicious dictator – is trying to seduce the people with promises of wealth and power.  She asks for her father’s permission to take the crown and lead the people against the villain.  But her father says to prove her abilities, she has to fight his strongest Knight. She is quickly bested and the father laughs her out of the throne-room, declaring her mad and his eldest son to be the official heir.  At the end of the book, after her brother’s hedonistic and disastrous rule is brought to a  bloody end by the neighboring ruler, Princess leads her people to victory against his hordes - after using the Knight who bested her to train the people to fight.

In romance: Hero and Heroine are colleagues – she’s been in love with him for a year.  After a particularly bonding late-night strategy meeting, Hero pulls heroine aside to ‘talk about something’.  Heroine hopes he’s going to declare his undying love.  But it turns out he wants advice on how to get her friend to go out with him instead. At the end of the book, following 200 pages of excruciating tension building, he’ll pull her aside again – but this time he’ll actually declare his love for her.

In thriller: Protagonist Detective is called in on the murder of a fellow officer.  The dead man was investigating a particularly nasty serial killer. At the end of the book it will be revealed that the serial killer had to be an inside man.  He’s killed two officers already because they got too close and now he’s stalked Protagonist Detective home…

I’m sure you get the picture. 

The trick is to foreshadow (imply or hint at what could go terribly wrong) rather than project (tell the reader what you want them to see coming).

What's projecting look like? Well, it's the moment when the soldier heroine first meets the villain and says to herself, "This looks like a man who would eat me alive. I hope I never have to face him one on one!"

Or it could be a conversation between hero and heroine at the beginning of a romance in which the hero admits "I have this terrible habit of falling in love with someone, then getting cold feet and backing out at the last minute..." (Hint: That's actually a great tension builder to imply - by having the hero recount a past relationship, or having the heroine observe the hero in a relationship doing that very thing...but him talking about it? Waaaaaaay too obvious). Essentially, projecting is leading the reader by the nose. It isn't necessary, and a savvy reader will roll their eyes and move onto something else.
I’ll say again: A writer could argue whether the plot mirror falls within the ‘critical’ elements of plot… but I know many bestselling writers believe it is so.  And many publishing professionals look for it when they’re reading. Whether you actually paint a plot-mirror-picture or not, make sure that your foreshadowing is subtle. It will serve you well in the end when your readers walk away satisfied.

Next Post: The Three Act Structure – and how to signal the end of your beginning.

Your Turn: Feel free to ask questions in the comments if any of this is unclear.  I’m happy to clarify.

Critical Plot Elements - MIDDLES #4 - The "Almost Lull"

There comes a time in your story where your end is in sight.  I don't mean the scene before your climactic events kick off - I mean drawing Act II to a close.  Zipping up your middle.

If you've followed this series so far, you know we've taken several steps towards this point.  But there's still another element to go before dragging the reader into the breathless events of the end: The Almost Lull.

The Almost Lull is not meant to be boring.  It is not meant to let the readers eyelids droop.  But it is a time of sanctuary or preparation.   A break in the tension that allows the protagonist (and the reader) to breathe.

It's a time of 'sequel' - when the protagonist gets to consider where they've been, where they have to go, and what they expect from it.

In order to do this right, I believe you need three things, two for the protagonist and one for the author:

Key Elements in the Almost Lull

PROTAG: Physical Safety

Physical safety is pretty self explanatory, but indulge me in a couple nuances.

Safety in this case doesn't mean 'completely untouchable'.  We're looking to reduce tension, not dissolve it altogether.  So, keep the overarching pressure on, but give the protagonist a scene or scenes in which their physical (or emotional) danger is at bay.  But make sure the reader knows this moment won't last.

The most likely tools here will be a time limit (either implied by the protagonist's plan to move ahead, or already in place), or the future plan (i.e. the protagonist's plan to achieve victory means things must move ahead soon).  But whatever mechanism you use, make sure the protagonist knows - or learns very quickly - that things will soon change.

EXAMPLE: If you're a fan of The Hunger Games, consider the moment when Katniss is hidden with Peta. She knows she's relatively 'safe' from the other players at that moment, but there are other problems - and she's got to reengage eventually.  Safety is tenuous and won't last forever, so the anticipation of danger is on a slow boil, rather than lukewarm.

PROTAG: Focus on Decision Making

During this time of safety or rest, the protagonist's focus should be on making a decision - one that forces them to weigh up what has come before - and what they anticipate will come in the third act.

This is the perfect time to remind the reader of anything important, to lead them through the logical reasoning that brings them to the end (and to throw in a dash of 'This Terrible Thing Might Happen').  But at all costs you (the author) must avoid the final element...

AUTHOR: Avoid Repetition

What?! You say? How do we remind the reader of what's happened without repeating?

It's a simple rule of thumb - and one you should use throughout your text, but most especially here:

Use a feather, not a mallet. 

Don't have your protagonist say (or think) "Remember when this happened, then this happened... well I guess I'll do this then..."

Instead, let your narrative assume the reader remembers all the events leading to that point.  Talk to them like someone who has all the same information.  Talk to them as if you'd talk to yourself... but with word pictures of course.  Let them see the protagonist's reasoning, rather than stepping them through events.

For example, DON'T:

Tori remembered that night when Dan admitted he'd cheated on her.  The feelings of betrayal and grief were overwhelming.  She felt like a favorite dress, thrown into the goodwill bag to make room for a new, glittering gown. 

How could she possibly raise a son whose father treated her like trash? But how could she give up a life that was half her?

For example, DO:

Tori's hands drifted to her swollen belly.  The baby kicked.  The tiny jab offered reassurance - and a bruising reminder of how he'd arrived in her life.

Would her son be better off in a home untainted by betrayal? Or would her love make up for his father's abandonment?

I'm being overly simple for clarity.  Hopefully you see the point. 

In the DON'T example, the narration simply repeats events - things the reader has already seen and heard.  It lowers tension in a bad way because the reader wants to skim, to get to something new.  (It's also a melodramatic metaphor).

In the second example, the reader gets a taste of Tori's simultaneous joy of motherhood right alongside the painful reminder of betrayal.  They see her dilemma and are drawn into her consideration of adoption.  They stay firmly in the story - reminded of the past, but not forced to rehash it.

Use this technique everywhere in your writing, but use it intentionally here because this is the point in your story where we transition from What Happened to What We've Been Waiting For.

Next Post: The Black Moment - Staring at the Bottom of the Barrel

Your Turn: Can you think of an 'Almost Lull' moment from your favorite book?

From the Archives: "Telling" is Another Word for "Let Me Explain"

I've been having trouble with spam-robot-clicker-commenters on my blog, so am deleting and reposting some of the older, popular content they seem to have connected to.

As you were.

I do a lot of critiquing for unpublished writers. I also do a lot of critiquing for published and repped writers. There's one crucial difference I see almost every time:

Unpublished writers often haven't learned to trust the reader's ability to gather what's going on. Even the very good ones often show the plot, character development, emotion, etc, then proceed to tell the reader how to interpret it.

What do I mean by that?  Example:

"Come with me," Carl said, so quietly I wondered if I'd imagined it. He leaned closer, lips at my ear. "Come with me." His fingers closed on my arm, as if he could force me. Drag me along.

"I can't." It came out broken, betraying my desire to follow. I never wanted to let him go.

"You can-"

"No, Carl, you don't understand!" I stepped back, out of his hands, away from his lips. "They killed my mother. If they find out we're together, they'll kill you too." My voice shook, but I couldn't make it stronger. I was too afraid. Too desperate for him to find another answer that would let us stay together.

Carl eye's narrowed. "I can take care of myself. And you," he said, seemingly willing to dismiss my mother's death.

Now, read that again without the bolded, "telling" sentences:

"Come with me," Carl said, so quietly I wondered if I'd imagined it. He leaned closer, lips at my ear. "Come with me." His fingers closed on my arm.

"I can't." It came out broken.
"You can-"
"No, Carl, you don't understand!" I stepped back, out of his hands, away from his lips. "They killed my mother. If they find out we're together, they'll kill you too." My voice shook, but I couldn't make it stronger.
Carl eye's narrowed. "I can take care of myself. And you," he said.

It's the kind of writing tip you have to practice, but here some clues:

1. Using the words "as if".
2. Use the word(s) "seemed / seemingly / seems to".
3. Using the name of an emotion.

If you're using any of these in the process of describing the POV character's interpretation of another character, you might be telling the reader what to see. Now, obviously there are several situations in which these phrases or words can be used legitimately, but keep the above examples in mind. Train your eye to look for explanation, then delete it wherever possible.

And here's more food for thought: If you remove statements like those bolded above and the reader can't interpret what's going on, the problem is in your showing. Don't fall into the trap of explaining. Figure out how to make it clear in the action or dialogue, not author narration.

Your Turn: Are there any other words or phrases you think writers could search their manuscripts for to identify "telling"?

4 Days and Counting… and a CLUE!

So, part of the reason I’ve been silent on the blog for so long is because sitting on my hands (locking my lips?) is uber-hard for me. In light of that, I’m starting to slip… Here’s your first big clue:
The 29th is a Tuesday. And if you’ve been listening to some of the publishing bigwigs online for a while, you’ll know that there’s something that often – some would say “usually” – happens on a Tuesday.
Your Turn: What often/usually happens on the Tuesday in the publishing world?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

6 Days and Counting--AKA Why Aimee Went AWOL

Okay, guys, I know I’ve been completely letting the team down in terms of blogging this year. I promise, in a few days you’ll understand why, AND you’ll see that there’s going to be lots of new, fun, and chock-full-of- info posts coming over the next few weeks and months.

Here’s the deal: Some stuff is happening and has been happening, and I have news. BIG news. But it’s news I’m not at liberty to share until the 29th. (Cue Aimee groaning “This is KILLING me!”)
So, until then, keep an eye on my Twitter and Facebook feeds for clues. And please accept my apologies for disappearing. It won’t happen again.
I hope…
Your Turn: What have I missed in YOUR life since April? Or, tell me what you think I’m going to say next week?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Read My Dear-Teen-Me Letter

That's right, I've being hosted as the author over at Dear Teen Me. This is such a special moment for me because that was the website that inspired Breakable. But also, I just plain love what they do over there.

If you're interested, head on over and see what I would say to my sixteen-year-old self!


Apologies - It's Overhaul Time!

Hi guys, I know I have been seriously AWOL this year, and I owe you lots of new content. But fear not! It cometh!
Before I can get to that part, though, I need to do some work on the website. You may see copies of old posts coming up in your feed, and so forth. If so, please accept my apologies in advance. In order to more efficiently streamline content, I'm combining two sites back into one...
See you on the other side - a lot more often! Ha!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

An Interview with TRINITY STONES author, L. G. O'Connor!

I've had the distinct pleasure of getting to know Liz over the last few years through our online contacts. So I'm so excited to introduce you to her, and her debut novel!

L.G. O’Connor is a member of the Romance Writers of America. A corporate strategy and marketing executive for a Fortune 250 company, she writes adult urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and contemporary romance. Her debut novel, Trinity Stones, the first book in her Angelorum Twelve Chronicles urban fantasy / paranormal romance series published by She Writes Press will launch on April 22 and be available wherever books are sold. She is currently preparing the second book in the Angelorum Twelve Chronicles, The Wanderer’s Children, for publication at the end of 2014. In addition, her adult contemporary romance will launch later this year. A native New Jersey girl, she lives a life of adventure, navigating her way through dog toys and soccer balls and loaning herself out for the occasional decorating project. When she’s feeling particularly brave, she enters the kitchen . . .

Find and connect with Liz in any of these places:

Thanks for stopping by, Liz! Your debut novel TRINITY STONES is releasing today and I'm so excited for you! I was lucky enough to get an early copy to review, but for those who haven't had the chance to pick it up yet, what is it about?  

Thanks, Aimee! It's great to be here. Your blog was one of the first blogs I followed when I started on my road to publication, so it's truly special to be a guest here today. TRINITY STONES is an adult paranormal romance / urban fantasy novel. It's the first of four books in The Angelorum Twelve Chronicles, which is really one story told in four parts.  

TRINITY STONES starts the story with Cara Collins, a single investment banker with an anxiety disorder, who mysteriously inherits $50 million on her 27th birthday. Up until that point, she’d between dealing with an awful work situation and the fact she can’t seem to get over her close friend and first love, Dr. Kai Solomon, a married man she can never have.

The first thing she finds out when she inherits the money is that she must keep it secret or those close to her could die. As Cara unravels the truth surrounding her inheritance, she makes a startling discovery: angels walk among the living, and they’re getting ready to engage in a battle that will determine the future of the human race.

In the midst of these revelations, she meets mysterious and sophisticated Simon Young, who offers her the promise of romance for the first time since Kai. But when Kai and his daughter are kidnapped by dark forces, Cara must choose: accept her place in a 2,000-year-old prophecy foretold in the Trinity Stones as the First of the Twelve who will lead the final battle between good and evil . . . or risk losing everything she holds dear. In doing so, she realizes it’s not just her heart, but rather her destiny, that is entwined with the two men in her life.

What inspired that story for you?

The seed of the story started with Cara and Kai’s relationship. There are a handful of people in my life with whom I have strong ties, and feel like they’ve been placed there for a reason. I love the concept of attraction and love binding us to someone even when, intellectually, it doesn’t make sense. I’m not a believer in coincidence, so I have to wonder: Is it destiny? Is it something beyond our own consciousness driving it? What bigger, better thing is going to be the outcome of that relationship? Do we sometimes play the role of an angel for someone else?  

You're a member of the popular She Writes group. Can you tell us more about that - how did you connect with them, and what made you decide to go with She Writes Press?

Yes! I found SheWrites.com, a writing community with over 20,000 members, through a writing course I took at New York University in 2012. My professor was a member, and she suggested that I join. The community consists of both published and unpublished members. It’s an excellent and supportive resource for writers at every level. I highly recommend it!

She Writes Press (SWP), which is affiliated with SheWrites.com, started a little over two years ago, and is run by Brooke Warner formerly of Seal Press. What’s awesome about SWP is that it really offers writers a ‘third way’ to publish. It’s a hybrid/partnership publishing model falling somewhere between traditional and indie publishing. Just to clear up any confusion, there are other publishers claiming to be partnership publishers who are really just glorified vanity presses. She Writes is not one of those.

As an author, what publishing with SWP means to me:

·         I’m part of a community of SWP authors—also releasing this spring—who I can lean on for support and learn from. That has been the BEST part.

·         I keep my copyright and rights to my work with no obligations to SWP for future work

·         I keep 100% of movie and audio rights with no obligation to pay a royalty to SWP (Audible here I come!)

·         My work is vetted to traditional publishing standards

·         My work is available through the traditional distribution channels via Ingram Publishing Services (Distributor for Big 5), appears in their online catalog (Edelweiss), and is sold by their sales team to bookstores, libraries, etc.

·         My royalty rates are higher than traditional publishers (and Createspace!)

·         I’m eligible for reviews by both traditional and self-publishing review outlets

The downside? There’s an upfront cost attached to publishing with SWP vs. traditional publishing, but it covers your cover design, interior layouts, proofreading, and all your distribution set-up and metadata management.

Aimee, your readers are welcome to shoot me an email directly at lgoconnorbooks (at) gmail (dot) com to learn more.

What's the best part of your writing life right now? And the most difficult?

By far, the best part is connecting with readers during pre-launch! Also, the unbridled enthusiasm of my beta team, friends, and family leading up to the launch has been fantastic and so uplifting. I’m hoping for almost 100 attendees at my Barnes & Noble event on May 3rd where I live in NJ. If anyone out there is from the Garden State, please stop by! My website Press & News page has all the details.

The most difficult thing lately has been juggle everything else while editing the second book in the Angelorum Twelve series. As you can imagine, I’m on a deadline to launch this fall/winter. In the meantime, I’m writing a prequel novella to Trinity Stones, called Hope’s Prelude, that I want to release on digital before the second book comes out.

Did I mention I also work full-time? *laughs* I just take it one day at a time, attacking my ‘top 3’ things for that day and hoping my husband still remembers me when I crawl into bed every night.

Do you have any advice for authors considering this route to publication? Anything you wish you'd known before you started? 

I loved this route for my first book, since I wanted that extra hand holding and someone else to do the grunt work involved in production. My advice: Don’t be afraid. I won’t say it’s been easy, but overall, I feel like I had more creative control, and got to market faster than if I went 100% traditional. That said, I’m all for multiple paths to publication. I’m considering a traditional path for my adult contemporary romance series with a May-December theme. The full manuscript is currently in the hands of an agent that I really want to work with…

There’s not much I wouldn’t done differently… 

And finally, what's your next project? And when can we expect to see it?

I have a lot of irons in the fire at the moment, maybe too many!

For the Angelorum Twelve Chronicles, I’m barreling toward production with the second book, The Wanderer’s Children for launch later this year. I also mentioned Hope’s Prelude, if all goes well, that should hit the digital shelves late this summer. While a good 25% of the draft for book three is complete, that will be a 2015 release for sure.  

My adult contemporary is a May-December romance between an older woman and a younger man set right here in New Jersey. I finished it during National Novel Writing Month this past November. I’m super excited about it! Trying a new genre was a nice break. There are two novelettes that follow it, which I’m also writing as we speak. I’ve also identified a second novel based on one of the characters in the book. Release date is TBD.

I’ll be posting progress on all my projects on my website www.lgoconnor.com

Oh, and one more thing that I’m really excited about: I have a digital only YA-approved version of TRINITY STONES that I originally wrote for my teenage nieces. It’s for those who want an adult read without hot love scenes (just sayin’). It’s available exclusively through me. Requests can be sent via email to lgoconnorbooks (at) gmail (dot) com.   

Aimee, thank you so much for having me! I really appreciate all your support!

My pleasure. Thanks for stopping by, Liz!
Your Turn: Any questions for Liz? Ask them in the comments! Otherwise, if you want to pick up TRINITY STONES you can take your pick:

Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / Apple iTunes / or grab an author signed copy here: www.TrinityStones.com