Friday, August 01, 2014

You're All Wonderful Team Members

Another Stephanie, Stephanie Rose Bird, nominated me for an award. Because she's so awesome...and because we Stephanies must stick together, I'm accepting it and passing it on. Stephanie is a talented artist, illustrator, blogger, and author, whose debut novel is coming soon.

The award is designed to recognize the amazing community of bloggers we have created here. In the past year, I've been continually amazed by the large number of bloggers who have gathered here. I met many of them through the A to Z Challenge, but I'd met quite a few before that, as well. (Which was how I knew about the A to Z Challenge!)

The award comes with a lot of rules, which you can read here. I'm not going to nominate 14 people--mostly because I want to be able to tell you a little about the people I'm nominating. Instead, I'm going to nominate five and if you choose to participate, jump on in! No pressure.

Here's the award.

Now the nominees...

Alex J. Cavanaugh--When you start reading around on here, you realize the person who brought many of these great bloggers together is Alex. His Insecure Writers Support Group is now massive, having created a community of aspiring writers who have grown together. Alex somehow finds a way to comment on a ridiculous number of blogs each day, while also writing his own books. I don't know how he does it.

The Armchair Squid--The Armchair Squid is the master of pulling everyone together, creating fun bloghops like The Cephalapod Coffeehouse, a monthly challenge where participants discuss the best book they've read all month.

Slam Dunks--"Slamdunk" and I have been reading each other's blogs for years. His blog is a great one to add to your blog roll, mostly because it's unique. If you're fascinated with missing persons cases and unique news stories, Slamdunk is your blogger!

Jennifer Hawes--Jennifer is the author of Free Runner, available on Amazon. Her blog is my favorite kind--a combination of her real life and writing tips and always interesting to read.

Diane Carlisle--A writer, photographer, and boating enthusiast Diane has been blogging since 2009. Under the name D.S. Carlisle, she has published Snow Leopard and Lethal Injection, The Seed, both available on Amazon.

Which blogger(s) do you feel add to the sense of community we have here?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Q&A with Author Lara Chapman, The XYZs of Being Wicked

I'm so excited to have young adult/middle grade author Lara Chapman on my blog today. She's the acclaimed author of Flawless, a  young adult book that was both a RITA finalist and a 2012 International Reading Association Young Adult Choice.

With her most recent book, Lara Chapman joins the Aladdin M!x family. I'm so excited to read her book, The XYZs of Being Wicked. Here's the awesome cover.

She agreed to answer some questions about her writing process

Q: Tell us a little about the plot of your new book, The XYZs of Being Wicked.

A: I know every author says this, but I love this book! The protagonist is so much fun and I fully relate to her even though middle school is way behind me.  Existing on the social outskirts since her falling out with her best friend, Hallie goes to The Dowling School of Witchcraft to maintain her family’s heritage.  She’s actually excited about going somewhere new, somewhere away from her ex-BFF, Kendall.  But all that changes when she finds out her ex-BFF is also her roommate.  Hallie has to find a way to discover her gift, and stay as far away from Kendall as possible.  Hallie and her trio of friends, along with their hilariously un-witchlike dorm mother, help each other find the gifts they were born with and how to navigate the not-so-unfamiliar social gauntlet of middle school.

Q: Your first published book, Flawless, was a RITA finalist and an International Reading Association Young Adult Choice. What differences did you notice in going from writing for teens to writing for a middle grade readership?

A: The word count!  I used to struggle with word count, pushing myself to reach the magical 80,000 word manuscript.  Know what’s harder than writing an 80,000 word manuscript? A 40,000 word manuscript.  It is hard to write a complete story so compactly.  Neither one of my middle grade books (The XYZs of Being Wicked and its sequel, Accidentally Evil) were under 40,000.  Not even close.

I also found myself slipping the characters into more YA situations and with more YA voices.  I had to check myself over and over.  Luckily, I taught 5th grade for years and years, so it’s not such a chore to make the characters authentic.

Q: What has your experience as a published author been like so far? Did anything surprise you about the publishing process?

A:  Everything surprises me about the publishing process!  It takes longer than I thought it would and there’s a substantial learning curve in terms of marketing your book.  I didn’t realize it’d be so complicated.  I went into my first contract with the assumption my book would be in every Barnes and Noble on a “New Releases” table.  Sounds ridiculous now!

Q: What is your writing process like? Do you plan your stories out before you write them?

A:  I plan.  Obsessively.  In fact, I probably plan too much (I know I spend a lot of time on it!).  I begin with the plot points, break it into four zones and then chapters and then scenes.  I need to know what I’m writing when I sit down with the laptop.  I learned early-on that I am not an effective pantster.

Q: Do you have a favorite writing spot?

A: Barnes and Noble (or anywhere my critique partners are)!  I really need to be out of the house to write seriously.  Too many distractions for my ADD/OCD brain!

Q: What are you working on now?

A: I currently have a YA novel on submission that’s a genuine heart wrenching romance.  Fingers crossed on that one! I’m currently working on a YA that’s very different from my current books.  It’s darker, snarkier, and deeper.  And I’m loving it!   It’s not under contract, but I hope it will be some day soon!

About Lara Chapman

Lesser Known Trivia (a/k/a things about me that are way more interesting than my life story):

-- I turned down a college scholarship in vocal performance for all the wrong reasons.
-- I've had the same best friends for over 30 years.
-- I'm OCD and ADD. Think about it. It's the most frustrating combination of disorders ever.
-- I'm a total organizing freak (see above).
-- I write best on a deadline. Too much time makes me lazy.
-- My high school English students call me Mom.
-- Both of my amazing kids are adopted.
-- I have an obsession with dachshunds.
-- I was accepted to law school but withdrew before my first class when my mom was diagnosed with ALS.
-- I almost always have the Food Network on TV.
-- I've broken my big toe twice: once crossing the Frio River and once from dropping a can of hairspray on it.
-- I've seen the movie "Grease" over a hundred times and will stop everything to watch it when it's on TV.
-- My son once told me was going to take me back to the Mommy Store because I made him wear his seat belt.
-- When she was a toddler, my daughter hid our phone in the freezer; it took me two weeks to find it.
-- I've worked for a Private Investigator. I could tell some stories about that job!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Are You Invisible?

My mom is enjoying post-retirement by doing what she loves best: writing. Friday, she posted a very thought-provoking blog about seniors and invisibility.

This is my wonderful mom:

She's noticed a phenomenon that happens as you get older. You become invisible. Where once you inspired looks like this...

You now blend into the crowd.

I don't think it's an age thing. I think there are only a certain percentage of people who stand out, depending on the person doing the looking. Think about it. When you walk into a restaurant, which people get your attention?

A beautiful woman in bright clothing?

Someone with an unusual hair color?

Or the young people?

Are most of us invisible?

Be sure to weigh in over on my mom's blog!