Monday, July 17, 2017

2017 Pitch Wars #PIMPMYBIO Bloghop Entry!

Yep! You read that correctly! I've walked into the "dark" side of writing and have entered an online writing contest.

Wait...

I've *flashes back a few years* been here before...

We'll get to that later. Anyhoo! Welcome to my site any new comers seeing it for the first time off the link from the bloghop! Grab a seat on the plush cozy sofas laying around, a soda, and treats. Browse around if you must, but more importantly...relax and let me tell you a bit about myself as well as my Pitch Wars Entry!!

BUT first, let's start off with a little 4-1-1 on what I can offer YOU mentors out there:


NOW, let's get down to the nitty-gritty:

Since the age of 8, I've been writing. Poetry was my elixir. Then came song writing, short stories, a play, news articles, etc. I took a four year break to focus on my very young family and demanding full-time job. I missed writing so much! In 2013, I came back with a goal to be published one day. I entered an online writing contest, WriteClub, my first, and landed in 3rd place. I was beat in a duel against an amazing author, Sarah Ahiers, who ended up winning! I did the contest to test myself. See where my strengths and weaknesses were as the entries were judged/voted on in the comments by peers. A few novels later, honing my craft and finding my footing, I'm now entering another online writing contest! WOOT WOOT!

If this were a dating app, and I wasn't happily married with kids, I would tell you how much I love going to the beach, doing outdoorsy things, riding my Harley, singing randomly anytime/anywhere, cooking, Asian buffets, and sarcasm.

DAUGHTERS OF ASH AND DUST, is a YA Viking Fantasy coming in at 110k. It's about six daughters of a warrior king, sentenced to death for treason. They must fight to restore their fallen kingdom, stolen by a cynical tyrant, and avenge their murdered parents, before their country, and people, are nothing more than ash and dust. LITTLE WOMEN meets SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNSTMAN told in 3POV'S of the eldest daughters.

So, you may be asking what to expect in my Viking tale. Here is a quick run down:

1. a wager between (real Norse) gods that sets the stakes and even creates the country
2. seven kingdoms
3. a mysterious Darkened Forest
4. lots of weapons - swords, axes, seax knives, daggers, spears, archery, etc
5. lots of using said weapons
6. bloody scenes - hey! it's Vikings!
7. Royalty, sorcery, trade running
8. death - imagine that!
9. a dark spirit with fiery chains keeping him between Helheim and Midgard
10. Valkyries, a white wolf, ravens, hawks, and falcons
11. a Royal Amulet - emerald because I like emeralds. :)
12. hate, love, family unity, loyalty, despair, treachery, and...kissing







ANOTHER question you might ask is, well, how is your prose? Here are a few lines to judge by:

1. Soon, she would see the fleet of longships gliding high across the water's glassy surface. The protruding dragon heads, carved majestically at each warships ends, would draw into the small kingdom's quiet, sleepy docks, and awaken the surrounding elements.
2. The fearful loss hung like smoke's haze as strong hands coiled around her ankles, dragging her out.
3. His skeletal fingers grazed her hair. Vileness swam around her, squeezing. "Ah, true. He is such a better king." He dropped his hand, fading into the throng of noisy villagers.
4. She banged the cross on the table, and loosened the ruby to pull out. It's size no bigger than a stitches' breadth.   
5. They continued to kiss, to taste, to entangle.


THANK YOU all for coming by!!! I've enjoyed showing you around, but the refreshments are gone, and the clock has chimed. Time to go! See ya at PITCH WARS!!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Crystal Liechty: A Comic Strip is Born

As a mom of four kids under the age of 13, I'm super excited to show off Crystal Liechty's newest endeavor - a comic strip called PLEASE DON'T CALL CHILD SERVICES. If you've seen her on Facebook posting all the funnies about her kiddos, you'll be ecstatic too see it in print!! Here's a little about Crystal, her family, and what started her new career!



Hey Crystal! Tell me a little about your family:

I imported my husband, Scott from Washington. We're going on 15 years of marriage. Then I've got three kids: Griffin, 10; AJ (short for Allison Jane), 7; and Hazel, 4.
Fun facts about each of us:
Scott almost went pro as a golfer. He played in college but ended up quitting because of a non-supportive girlfriend who didn't think it was a real career. Lucky for me, though, because I probably wouldn't have met him if he'd gone that route.
Griff is the youngest member of the Utah Parkour Intermediate team. The next youngest is 13 so it's quite a feat. In his words, "Parkour is life." He also
breakdances and plays the saxophone. I call AJ my "sunshine" and I mean it. The girl is a breath of fresh air - always giggling and smiling. She's been in dance for over a year and loves to choreograph her own dances and make up her own songs. And she can eat any of us under the table. Hazel is my wild child but deep down, she really is a sweetheart. She reminds me a lot of Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables. She doesn't mean to cause as much trouble as she does; she's so fierce but her tiny body doesn't know how to handle it. Just today, she got in trouble for kicking Griffin and she said to me, so forlornly, "AJ and Griff are good at being nice but I'm not. I'm made different from them. I don't know how to be good." I cuddled her and told her a little secret -- that when AJ and Griff were her age, they hit and kicked, too. But then they learned that was not okay and stopped doing it and she would, too. She didn't look convinced.

Your kids and hubs sound like fun! Tell me who you think has the most laughable comments: 

You know what? I actually think my 7 year old daughter, AJ is the funniest. I mean, she nonstop cracks me up! But she’s in the comic the least so far because it’s not what she says as much as how she says it and I haven’t figured out how to translate that to writing yet. Hazel gets a lot of play because what she says is just so outlandish for a four year old. And she’s been like that since day one. She started talking early and she’s such an imp that I can pretty much pick any moment of the day and find some sort of fodder for the comic.

Too cute! Who do you think is the wisest?

Me. Just kidding. Of the kids, it’d have to be Griff, hands down. Part of that comes from him being so self-aware and so eager to make sense of the world around him. He's the kind of kid where you teach him one thing, and he figures out a hundred. Then you get situations where we’re arguing using logical fallacies like here:


A fast learner! So, tell me how the comic strip idea transpired and got rolling.

For awhile, I'd been getting great feedback from my Facebook posts about the kids. People loved the posts and would often share them and say things like I should have my own reality show or I should write a book, etc. So I'd been considering for awhile how I could translate these funny stories into an art form that's more solid than a simple Facebook post. Then I happened to be chatting with a longtime friend, Steven Heumann about creative endeavors and such. He'd worked for me when I was a managing editor for a newspaper. He did a monthly comic strip. That's when it hit me -- the kids could be a comic! I threw the idea at Steven, half-joking and he loved it. So I gathered up some my favorite past posts on the kids and sent them to him. I have to give him credit -- he's brilliant and totally gets my sense of humor so I don't have to do much other than give him the details. From there, he knows exactly how to execute it. It's been less than two months since I first suggested the idea. I can't believe how fast it's all come together!

It has been fast! Tell me how your kids feel about it.

They love it. They’re all a bunch of hams. Seriously, anyone who’s been to my house can tell you they spend the whole time competing with each other to see who can show off the most. Griffin got a few sample comics from Steven last week and he's been carrying them around with him everywhere, reading them over and over again. AJ's only complaint is that she's not in there more. Hazel already thinks she's famous.

I'm so glad! Where can the viewers see more of your hilarious comics?

We will update the comic every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/unexceptionalmom/) or on my blog (http://unexceptionalmom.blogspot.com/).
 
COMIC BLURB:

Please Don't Call Child Services is an autobiographical comic that details my true adventures homeschooling three precocious and slightly profane children. Every strip is based on real things they've said or done (because if I didn’t laugh about it, I’d have to cry).

 
BIO:

Crystal Liechty is the mastermind behind the Please Don’t Call Child Services webtoon, which details the always funny and often inappropriate hijinx involved in homeschooling three mischievous children. If you’ve been to college lately, you might have seen one of her essays in the Elements of Arguments textbook (Macmillan Press). When not homeschooling or torturing college students with argumentative essays, Crystal can be found watching Korean dramas, teaching herself Kpop dances or in general working as an unofficial ambassador for South Korean culture.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Kristin Smith Book Release: FORGOTTEN


Welcome back, Kristin!! Kristin's book FORGOTTEN released yesterday!! WOOT WOOT and major congrats!! It's definitely not easy to write a book, and to have it published is an even bigger feat in itself! Plus, it's currently marked down with the 1st book in the series, CATALYST! And, there's a giveaway at the bottom of the blog post. too! What a steal!

So, dare we ask what FORGOTTEN is all about?? Let's find out...




Forgotten
Kristin Smith
(The Deception Game #2)
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: April 18th 2017
Genres: Dystopian, Young Adult
The epic tale of Sienna Preston continues in this second installment of the exhilarating Deception Game series.
 Seventeen-year-old Sienna is no stranger to heartache and loss. But this time, it’s different; someone―or something―has tampered with a loved one’s memories, and she’s determined to get answers.
The trail leads her to the glittering skyscrapers and modern luxuries of Rubex, the Capital of Pacifica, where she infiltrates the government’s Agency for Intelligence and Genetics. But answers are not always easy to come by, especially when her own memories may have been altered. Luckily, Zane Ryder is there to help her put the pieces back together, his devotion and concern muddying the waters between friendship and something more.
 When Sienna gets too close to uncovering dark Agency secrets, she’s framed for the murder of a prominent government official, sending her on the run. Sienna’s heart may be torn about who she loves, but none of that really matters anymore―because the only thing that awaits her now is a death sentence.

Grab book 1 for only 99¢!
Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

EXCERPT:

Zane parks his Aria on the lake side of the dam, and we both climb out.

“Bring back memories?” Zane asks with a wry grin.

“How you thought I was trying to kill myself? Again?” I laugh. “I don’t know why you thought I was so suicidal.”

Zane shrugs. “Maybe I didn’t. Maybe I just wanted an excuse to rescue you.”

My heart trips over itself. “Zane,” I say softly, “you can’t keep saying things like that.”

He moves around the side of the car. “Why not?” When he takes my hand in his, the warmth of his fingers heats up my whole body.

“This isn’t a good idea,” I mutter, but I make no move to extract my hand from his.

He looks down at me, then at our entwined fingers. “But what if it is? What if it’s the best idea in the whole damn world?”

“Because—because you’re engaged. To someone else.”

“But I don’t want to be,” he says, his voice low. He takes a step closer until he’s so close that I could wrap my arm around his back if I wanted to.

“Zane,” I warn, but the warning gets caught in my throat. He’s giving me that look. The same one he gave me before he kissed me that first time on the couch in his house.

“What?” he whispers.

“Please, don’t—” But he’s already leaning down, his eyes focused on my mouth. My breath comes out shaky as his fingers slip from mine and his hands touch my waist, gently bringing me closer. Before I can stop myself, our lips meet, and a thousand nerve endings converge to a single spot. His lips are fire and warmth and need. And that single spark ignites an already-smoldering flame.




Author Bio: 
Kristin Smith writes young adult contemporary and science fiction novels. When she’s not writing, you can find her dreaming about the beach, beating her boys at Just Dance, or belting out karaoke (from the comfort of her own home). Kristin currently resides in the middle-of-nowhere North Carolina with her husband and five incredibly loud but extremely cute boys. To read more about her obsession with YA novels or her addiction to chocolate, you can visit her at kristinsmithbooks.com.



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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Guest Post by Kristin Smith: Love Triangles - Do They Work?


The LOVELY and BODACIOUS Kristin Smith has stopped by to give a little 4-1-1 on Love Triangles. The big question is - DO THEY WORK??? Let's find out what she has to say about all the love triangles in the literary world!

~~~~~~~~~~

I know there's quite a bit of controversy about "The Love Triangle", a trope that is often seen in YA books. So the question I pose for you is, do love triangles in YA books work?

I borrowed this from totallythebomb.com. I thought it was kind of fun! :)

Let's first take a look at some bestselling YA books that have a love triangle.


1) Twilight by Stephenie Meyer: Bella with Edward and Jacob


I know there are many naysayers who didn't like the whole Twilight saga, but I'm sorry, this love triangle was EPIC! Fans of the book were divided on their love for Edward versus their love for Jacob. And some people were downright MAD when Bella chose Edward. (I was NOT one of those, by the way.) Did this love triangle get people invested in the book? Did people want to know who Bella would choose? Absolutely! In my opinion, this love triangle was a huge success!



2) Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: Catniss with Gale and Peeta


I think this love triangle was a little more subtle. The book starts out with Catniss having "hidden" feelings for Gale, but she spends the rest of the book with Peeta either preparing for the games or in the throes of the game. As a reader, it was hard for me to connect with the idea of Catniss and Gale being together because I hardly saw them together during the book. I know there were some Gale fans out there, but in my mind, it was Peeta. It was always going to be Peeta, even though Catniss spent 80% of the books only "pretending" to be in love with him.

Did this love triangle work? I would say yes. It created just enough tension that left the readers wanting more.


The Selection by Kiera Cass: America with Aspen and Maxon



Okay, so this one was a little frustrating for me. I didn't see anything good that would come from America ending up with Aspen. At the beginning of the book, she claims he's her one true love, but then she falls so quickly for Maxon. And, hello, Maxon is a PRINCE! And with America by his side, they could better their country together. Every time America snuck off to do something romantic with Aspen, I felt a little uneasy. I wanted to shout at her, "Get back to your room! You don't want Maxon to catch you kissing Aspen!"

Did this love triangle work? Well, I devoured the entire series in the space of 3 days, so even though I didn't AGREE with some of America's decisions, I would give a half-hearted yes. I loved the series; now whether or not the love triangle added to that love, I really can't say.

Now, I've shared with you a few of my favorite book series, and they ALL have a love triangle. The last one is from my own book (and you'll have to be the one to decide whether or not this love triangle works). :)

Catalyst by Kristin Smith: Sienna with Trey and Zane



Basically, amidst all the craziness in her life, Sienna develops feelings for a genetically modified poster boy (who is completely off-limits because he's been engaged since birth to his perfect genetic match). But when she joins the extremist group, the Fringe, their young leader (who's too hot to be bad) takes an interest in her. There's tension, conflicted feelings, and some pretty awesome kissing scenes. But you'll have to be the judge of whether this love triangle "works".


So to sum it up, if we're deciding whether or not a love triangle works based on the success of the book, then I say with a resounding YES that love triangles WORK! Our main goal as an author is to entice readers to want to read our books. And if a love triangle is executed well, I think it can add tension and dynamics to the story. I personally don't mind a good love triangle, and I will gladly read a book that has one.

What are YOUR thoughts? Do love triangles work?



About the Author:

Kristin Smith is the author of the young adult novel Catalyst and its sequel, Forgotten. When she’s not writing, you can find her dreaming about the beach, beating her boys at Just Dance, or belting out karaoke (from the comfort of her own home). Kristin currently resides in the middle-of-nowhere North Carolina with her husband and five sons. To read more about her obsession with YA novels or her addiction to chocolate, you can visit her at kristinsmithbooks.com.









Thanks so much for stopping by, Kristin!! Don't forget to buy your copy of CATALYST and see for yourself how you like her version of a love triangle! *click here to redirect to Amazon!* Next week, come back to see Kristin talk about her new release, FORGOTTEN!! 
 

Monday, April 3, 2017

Wimpy Protagonists No More

Have you ever read back lines from your main character, your protagonist, and thought: Wow, he/she is kinda...wimpy. For shame! But they can't be wimpy! Well, mine can't be wimpy. NOOOooooooo... (deep breaths).

I had this same experience happen with the oldest sister in my YA fantasy. She was supposed to (wo)man up, but after reading her back, she wussied up. And that is NOT cool. In fact, her younger sister was more brute than she. What the what?? Nah. Some changes had to be made!

The good thing is, the fix was easy. Truly. And fixing your wimpy character into a more (wo)manly character is easy, too. Here are some quick tricks to get your character to re-establish their role of cajones holder.

1. Paralanguage - stop making them timid, make them have a "straight spine". Look for descriptive words with their paralanguage and tweak them to say more profound/regal things.

2. Language - simply put, try not to make them "ask" so much as "demand". The character should tell people what to do, rather then ask if they're willing to do it. I made this change in one line, and the difference was astounding. (caution: not everything is a demand because that's just...rude. 😉 )

3. Move with a Purpose - make sure you're character is creating some of the problems rather than all the problems happening around them and they just seem to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. If their creating some of the problems then they're showing their unwilling to settle for mediocrity.

4. React with Purpose - BUT if there is going to be problems happening, because there always needs to be, then make sure they react headstrong and not cower. The old phrase "move with a purpose" is very relevant here.

5. Think and React - sometimes strong characters need a moment to show vulnerability before they react strong. This shows a very human side we all have, and the reader relates to. Once that second-guessing part happens, return to react with a purpose. That will show a super strength of going beyond our own doubts and striving to prove even our own selves wrong.

BOOM. There you have it!! Do you feel like you can get your protagonist's cajones back in place now? Good! The best part of revisiting some of the wimpy stuff and revising back to headstrong, was that I didn't keep reverting back to those wimpier lines. And don't think your character needs to be gun-ho every single second. Make sure to dash and sprinkle plenty of those "I am human" moments where weakness creeps in every so often. Well, good luck out there, and keep on writing!!

~~LIST OF THE WEEK~~

READ: Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes (murder creates havoc amongst 3 kingdoms), Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill (girl on risky adventure to figure out her father's murderer), Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman (camp fire tales of Norse gods/goddesses lives)
STILL READING: A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge (ARC), and Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
MOVIES: Trolls (cute but not that cute) and Beauty and the Beast (Great but not as brilliant as everyone built it up to be)
WORD COUNT ON YA BOOK: 59,403 (that non-round number is murder!!)
WHAT IS DRIVING ME CRAZY: new book idea I can't start
WHY NOT START: because I know I won't stop, and I need to finish this one first!

QUESTIONS TO THE READER:
1. What is a wimpy characteristic you find yourself accidentally giving your protagonist?
2. What is one "wimpy" trait of your own?
3. Am I wimpy??