Monday, July 21, 2014

B is for Beta Readers - Tips for Teens!

B is for Beta Readers!

What is a beta reader?  A beta reader is someone who reads your WIP (work in progress).

The purpose of a beta reader is to provide feedback--both with punctuation and grammar, as well as structurally with plot and characterizations--so that you can improve your WIP.

No, you don't need a professional editor to beta read for you. No, you don't need to pay someone to beta for you.

Ideally you'll want to ask another trusted writer who is familiar with your genre or someone who is an avid reader in your target audience to read your WIP.  You wouldn't want an adult romance author to read and critique your middle-grade fantasy. They probably won't be familiar with the things that appeal to kids and may end up questioning and/or not understanding your fantasy world.  That's not to say it's impossible for them to provide a valuable critique, but if you can, you should try to find someone who understands and frequently reads your genre. Usually it's good to swap with another writer, so that's just another reason to ask someone who writes in the same genre/age group as you.

It's also best not to ask your mom/dad/sister/brother/awesome-family-relative or BFF to beta read for you. Sorry to say, but they cannot be objective. Plus, it also puts them in a really tricky situation. If they LOVE it (which most of the time is the case), it's because they love YOU! But if they hate it, and are brutally honest with you, it could make for a very awkward family dinner.

"Pass the potatoes please."
"These potatoes? I thought you HATED potatoes. Maybe it's just MY potatoes."
"Ummm...I think I'll stick with the salad instead."

Save us all from a potato incident. Okay? Don't ask the family. Or friends. You seriously don't want to see a BFF example (ahem...EX-bff!). Trust me.

Monday, July 14, 2014

A is for Authentic - Tips for Teens!

A is for Authentic!

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines Authentic as: real or genuine: not copied or false.

If you've been in the writing community for any period of time, one of the phrases that you'll hear repeatedly is "write what you know", and it really is a good piece of advice. For the most part.

I think this advice can becoming limiting in our own minds when we start to tear things apart, wondering if we really are experts on that topic. Or when we believe that we have to keep our writing only to things we experience.

We might think we can't write a dystopian novel because we haven't lived in a fictional society that dehumanizes us, or we can't write a zombie novel because we're not running scared with a machete in our hands. Or maybe we think we're not able to write romantic fiction because we've never been in love.  Whatever it is you've limited yourself to, stop!

You CAN write these things!

If you're authentic in your writing, I believe your readers will know it. Authenticity comes through writing something we're passionate about. It comes as we draw upon emotions that we've experienced and apply it to our writing, and to our characters, developing them into something three dimensional. Something real. Authenticity comes as we reveal that vulnerable part of ourselves in our writing.

Be authentic and you will, in fact, create a story worth reading.

How are you authentic in your writing? Is there an event in your life that has helped you become a more genuine writer?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

New York Library Events!

I'm so excited to announce that I'll be presenting at TWO libraries! If you have middle-grade kids that want to learn the craft of writing or just want to hear about my publishing journey and how my daughter and I co-write together, then be sure to attend one of these two events.  There will be prizes and interactive activities!

The first event takes place at a library close to my heart. It is my childhood library - the place I first discovered a love for reading. The place where I enjoyed crafts, projects, story hour, and the summer reading program. Be sure to join me at the Olive Free Library in Shokan, NY. The presentation, activities, and signing will take place on Saturday, July 12th at 2pm!

The second event is at the Town of Esopus library in Port Ewen, NY.
Join the fun on Friday, July 18th at 3:00pm!

Look forward to seeing you at the library!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Tips For Teens!

Starting next Monday, July 14th, I'll be starting a new blog series entitled Tips For Teens! Each post will be alphabetized and provide (hopefully) helpful writing tips for teen authors, whether they're a new writer or a seasoned expert.

As I've given talks, presented at libraries, and skyped with teachers/classrooms, I've seen the need for these blossoming writers to have a resource geared just for them. There's a lot of interest from young writers and I hope to inspire them to reach their goals.

As the mother of teens, one of them my co-author, I thought it would be fun to present them these tips in a fun and exciting way.

If you're not a teen, I encourage you to stick around. I guarantee you'll find the tips useful, too!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Eleanor the Unseen by Johnny Worthen

It was a gamble for Eleanor to rejoin humanity, but she was driven to it. She’d been too successful forgetting. The last vestiges of her family hung by a thread in her transformed brain and drove her to be reckless. Ten years later, Eleanor hides in plain sight. She is an average girl getting average grades in a small Wyoming town: poor but happy, lonely but loved. Her mother, Tabitha, is there for her and that’s all she’s ever needed. But now her mother is sick and David has returned. The only friend she’d ever had, the only other person who knows her secret, is back. And Eleanor again becomes reckless. Eleanor is a modest girl, unremarkable but extraordinary, young but old, malleable but fixed. She is scared and confused. She is a liar and a thief. Eleanor is not what she appears to be.

Amie: Why did you want to write YA?

Johnny: Thematically, it was important for me to have ELEANOR be a young adult novel. Young adult is the time of our lives when we undergo the most changes we are likely ever to face. Physically, socially, mentally and spiritually. Change is radical and quick. What is normal one day is changed the next at this age. Think of peer groups and boy friends. It is truly the age of change and change is at the heart of ELEANOR and the whole UNSEEN series.

The protagonist, Eleanor Anders, is a fifteen year-old girl. She’s unassuming and lonely, growing up in a small Wyoming town. When a protagonist is this age, it naturally falls into a YA category provided it doesn’t veer too far into adult material.

I do and I don’t.

I avoid adult language since I didn’t need it, but the themes and situations in ELEANOR are very adult. I don’t dumb anything down for a YA audience, because frankly, I don’t need to. Young adult readers are great readers and I give them the stark challenges and questions as they come knowing that can handle them. From bulllying to prejudice, to appearances versus reality, poverty and wealth, love and fear, it’s all there and young adults to old adults to enjoy.

Amie: I agree - I think there's a tendency to discredit YA readers. Quite the contrary - they're  amazing and can handle more than we might think! YA paranormal is a hot commodity right now. What makes your story unique?

Johnny: The book is unique in a lot of ways. It’s been called a paranormal character study and I think that’s a good description. I think of it as a fable. It’s a slow burn that carries the reader through Eleanor’s life and challenges with a tenderness of family and place not often found in mainstream books.

There is a paranormal element in ELEANOR. It is a metaphor and complication and best discovered while reading it, so I’d rather not spoil it. Let it suffice that Eleanor has a secret, a secret so dangerous that should it be discovered, it would cost her everything she has. She knows, because it’s happened before.

Amie: Ooooh! Sounds intriguing! Tell me about a favorite scene in your novel. (Yes, I'm trying to coax more out of you...)

Johnny: There are so many, but I often think of the bittersweet kiss between Eleanor and David atop a mountain. Their lives stretched out before them like the vast view, roads in different directions, beautiful and stark and all too short. It is a rare and beautiful moment that still sends chills up my spine.

The ending is also a fantastic moment for me. It’s springtime and… well you’ll have to see.

I’d like to say, that ELEANOR, though it begins the UNSEEN SERIES, is in fact a standalone story. I always hate picking up a new books and finding out an ending is not included. It is here. If you like it, Eleanor’s story continues in CELESTE and then DAVID, coming later from Jolly Fish Press.

Amie: Kissing scene? I'm there! All right...last question. Pickles or ice cream? Black licorice or muddy gummies?

Johnny: I'm a big fan of pickles and ice cream. Lately I’ve been eating more ice cream than pickles, so I better change it up before it’s too late. Black licorice, the real stuff, like I had in Europe, that stuff is for superheroes, not for me. Give me gummies every time.

Thanks for joining me today, Johnny, and good luck with the release and launch of Eleanor!

JOHNNY WORTHEN graduated with a B.A. in English and Master’s in American Studies from the University of Utah. After a series of businesses and adventures, including running his own bakery, Worthen found himself drawn to the only thing he ever wanted to do - write. And write he does. When he's not pounding on his keyboard or attending writers conferences, Worthen spends his time with his wife and two boys in Sandy, Utah.

Monday, June 23, 2014

John Marshall Library Event!

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014 is my last event for the Fauquier County public library. I'll be presenting at the John Marshall library in Marshall, VA at 6:30pm as part of  the teen summer reading program. There will be a presentation, interactive games, and even a giveaway! So don't miss out on all the fun!

See you there!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Author Events at Fauquier County Public Library

Tuesday, June 17th 2014, I'll be presenting at two branches of the Fauquier County Public Library!

4:00pm at the Bealeton Branch
6:30pm at the Warrenton Branch

Then on Tuesday, June 24th, 2014, I'll be presenting again.

6:30pm at the John Marshall Branch

All events will feature a presentation by yours truly about my writing process, what it's like to write with my teen daughter, and where we obtain our inspiration.

Following the presentation there will be a book signing where you can purchase copies of CINDERSKELLA and get some great swag to go with it! 

The library will raffle off one copy of CINDERSKELLA as well. One lucky teen will walk away with a FREE signed copy!

It's my understanding that the Fauquier County Public Library has some great incentives for teens who attend their events this summer, including mine! There's also a grand prize drawing!

The event is geared for teens 12 and up, but if you have a middle-grade reader (ages 8-12) be sure to bring them, too! I know they'll love CINDERSKELLA just as much as the teens.

So don't miss out on all the fun! I'll see you at the library!!