March 30, 2011 | By: Tracy

Would You Rather -- Wednesday

(CONTEST ALERT:  David Powers King -- who bears a resemblance to Joshua Jackson of the Dawson's Creek fame -- is having a Candy Princess Monster book giveaway, celebrating reaching100 followers. I decided to be nice and share, plus it gets me another entry in the contest to mention this. So go check it out. David's a good guy and I'm pretty sure he doesn't bite)

Last week: You guys were asked to choose whether you'd rather play the role of Hero, Big Bad or Sidekick with personality.

The hands down winner was the VILLAIN. The majority of you, it would seem, would rather play the role of . . .

Misery -- Every Writer's Greatest Fear
Ever Dance With the Devil in the Pale Moon Light? (RIP Heath)

Me, I'd rather be the one who gets all the killer one-liners! That's right, I wanna be . . . 

The Duck Man

So for this week's burning question:

Your trying to promote your latest release and your publisher books you a gig on celebrity challenge reality TV show, would you rather be on . . . ?

A)  The Amazing Race


B)  Dancing With the Stars

March 28, 2011 | By: Tracy

How'dya Do, Mary Sue?

We've all heard about staying away from the dreaded "Mary Sue" type characters.  Those MC's we inadvertently make so perfect and/or gifted they are ultimately unbelievable -- and often unlikeable.

A while back, I came across this link. A Mary Sue litmus test, if you will. Not a bad little tool to play around with.

(Be forewarned, it can be a bit of a time suck when you start playing around & checking out all your characters with a test like this -- and if you're like me, you WILL run all your players through the gamut)

It's a fun little check point, but keep in mind that these tests aren't fail proof. It's more about the way you build your character, and why their talents are what they are, that ultimately determines whether a character is Mary Sue or not.

For instance . . .  Bella Swan, from the Twilight series.

Bella is often -- believe it or not -- one of the fans' least favorite characters. Granted, she's a human (at least, most of the time) competing with paranormal beings, but she's often out-shined by the characters around her. She's too, "oh gee, my flaws aren't even really all that bad" girl-next-door. Honestly, even the most boring Cullen is ten times more interesting than Bella, in most situations.

Yet in the Mary Sue litmus test, she scored a 15 which would signify she isn't a boring, goody-goody Sue.

On the flip side, you have Jace Wayland from The Mortal Instruments series.

Okay, so that isn't technically Jace, but in my mind Alexander Nifong should be!

Jace scores a 58 on the test which would qualify him as a Uber Sue (and that was with me being generous on some of the questions). Yet to anyone who's read the series, he's one of the most vibrant characters in the crew. His abundant gifts are well-balanced by his shortcomings in a way that makes him feel like a real, flawed human being (or Shadowhunter, whatever)

So in the end, you have the freedom to do whatever you want with your characters. . . just make sure that for every positive they have in their corner there is a potential negative aspect as well. Otherwise, you might end up with the prodigal son/daughter with a dazzling Colgate smile that all your readers end up hating.

What about you guys: Any characters come to mind that you can't believe the author got away with creating so Mary Sue? Or have you read a story with a character who was sickeningly Mary Sue, yet you still liked them anyway?

March 25, 2011 | By: Tracy

In Case You Haven't Heard About Amanda Hocking. . .

In case you haven't heard, Amanda Hocking (something of a indie cult hero) has just landed a pretty sweet traditional four-book deal.

This worries me.

Not about Amanda, she's obviously put a lot of hard work into her writing in order to have obtained her success. I've got no ill will towards her in any way. My concern is that this will encourage a deluge of hopefuls to flock to the indie route, citing her success.

There's no secret that it's oh-so-easy to "e-publish" via B&N or Amazon these days. And, in my opinion, there are far too many people who jump the gun. Not having the experience, editing help or objectivity to put out a product that others will love as much as the author does. Adding to the stigma those who choose to self-publish have to fight through already.

Since I don't have any intention of going the self-pubbed route, myself, you'd think it wouldn't really care either way.

Except, I happen to be a huge ereader user. (Seriously, my Nook and I are starting to look alike) And right now, when I do a search for a topic -- say paranormal romance -- on B&N, the search engine pulls up both traditonal and "indie" titles. Often times the only way to tell the difference is the price (and usually the quality of cover artwork).

I can spot the difference, but does the average non-writing reader realize what they're getting when they purchase a $0.99 book?  Now, some self-pubbed work is actually pretty good. But, sadly, a good majority of it is pure crap!

Having no way to quality control the work that's put out there, it's the reading public that will suffer in the long run. And anything that runs the risk of turning off book readers is a bad thing for all of us, no matter what route we take.

Do you all think about or care about this kind of stuff? Have you indie published yourself?  If you're thinking about it, have you planned to have a professional editor review it first?

March 23, 2011 | By: Tracy

Would You Rather - Wednesday

Helpless Plea :  If anyone knows how to add the share buttons on blogger when they absolutely refuse to be added, please hit me up with an email. Blogger and I are about to throw down.

BTW, thank you all for leaving such awesome comments on my St. Patty's Day blogfest entry. I actually won one of the prizes!!! I'm positive it was because of all the nice things I paid you guys to say.

Okay enough about me.

Last week you all had to decide between living life in Hogwarts or Middle Earth. At first, it looked as though Harry & Co were going to run away with the results, but at the midway point the hobbits came on strong (actually, I think it was the elves, but whatever).  Sadly, it wasn't quite enough for them to defeat the wizards, so The Potter won. 

Ginny Weasley - Most Popular Girl on Would You Rather Wednesday

Me, I'd rather spend my life hanging around Hobbiton & Rivendell. And at first, I thought I wanted to be Arwen -- unbelievable gorgeous & hooking up with the future King.  But then realized I'd get bored waiting around for him to get back from saving Middle Earth. At which time, I decided to become Legolas instead. That way I can be a kick ass fighter and stare at my reflection all day. (Yes, I absolutely would be vain if I was Legolas, thankyouverymuch)

Anyway, now on to this week  -- this time we get THREE choices to choose from!

If you were given the chance to star in a blockbuster movie based off the most amazing book you've ever read, would you rather be cast as . . . ?

A)  The Hero/Heroine


B) The Villain / Villainess


C) The Comedic Sidekick

March 21, 2011 | By: Tracy

How Do You Know When It's Time To Give Up?

We all know rejection is par for the course in publishing. If you're a newbie you've at least heard about it. If you're a veteran you've probably lived through your fair share of it.

We've also all heard the mantra "it only takes one YES" . . . but sooner or later there might come a point when it's time to give up.


I don't mean writing, in general, because if it's an activity you truly love you'll probably never really be able to walk away from it anyway. I'm talking about how to know when it's time to give up on a particular manuscript.

I've seen some writers abandon a story after one revision and a short round of querying. They deem it time to move on from that particular project and begin working on the next. On the flip side, I've seen those who dig in their heels through multiple revisions and refuse to give up even though they've garnered rejections numbering into the triple digits.

So which should you do??

Sometimes, manuscripts -- through no fault of their own -- just don't get picked up. There might not be anything fundamentally wrong with the premise, the writing or the voice . . . but there's some undefined reason it isn't catching the right people no matter how hard you try.

So how do you know if it's really time to put a manuscript aside for a little while and focus on bringing the next in line up to the query forefront? How do you determine whether you're giving up on a project too soon or wasting time that could be put to better use?

Sadly, I don't have a definitive answer for this because, like everything else in this business, it's a subjective decision. That being said, I've scoured the web for some links that tackle this issue.

Peggy Blair -- How many agents should you query before giving up?

Writer Beware -- When persistence becomes a vice

Book-A-Week -- Calling it quits on a manuscript

I guess the bottom line is, you have to go with your gut. Being rejected SUCKS, whether it's a query, partial or full . . . or coming from an agent, editor or publishing house. But if you really feel that you aren't ready to give up on your story, don't! Whereas if you've gotten to the point you're seriously starting to hate your own manuscript, then it might be time to put it away for a while.

I'm curious as to what you all think. Have you had to give up on a manuscript at some point, or are you still plodding away on your first baby? If you have called it quits with a particular MS, what was it that prompted you to make that decision?
March 17, 2011 | By: Tracy

Luck O' the Irish Blogfest

I don't normally post on Thursday, but today I'm pulling double duty. So feel free to also swing by Chocolate & Spice to catch my blog post on why we can't seem to get enough paranormal.

Colleen and Alexia threw together this St. Patty's Day blogfest.  Point is to do a very brief (200-ish words) flash fiction about anything Irish.

Me, I chose to play with the typical stereotypes.  There is a prize involved, so feel free to talk me up in the comments so the judges pick me! And then go here to check out the rest of the participants.


After all these years, I finally found me a leprechaun! He ain't happy 'bout it, but I'm stalking his arse until we get to the end of this rainbow. I always knew this day would come, even when they told me I was gone in the head for believing in wee little men who wear green leotards.

"Had a few too many pints of whiskey, Shamus?" they said.

Gah! Feckers didn't want to believe I could do it, so they'll be getting none of me gold. They can buy their own damn Guinness.

"How much longer 'til we get there, squirt?" I asked the little feller.

He turned around to glare at me -- looking like two and a half feet of emerald fury -- before a creepy smile crawled onto his face. "Not much further now."

I didn't like that look, but kept my yap shut.

When we rounded a bend in the trees and the rainbow came to an end, tears o' joy streamed down me face. But one look inside the black cast-iron pot and my heart sank. "Are those . . . potatoes?"

With a smug smile, he gave a shrug of one shoulder. "Bad economy."

So, after all these years, I still don't have me pot of gold . . .but I do got a lovely stuffed leprechaun now hanging above the fireplace.


Also, because this is the holiday of my people and I love all things Irish, here's a little bonus. This is what's considered "Irish Rap".

March 16, 2011 | By: Tracy

Would You Rather - Wednesday

So last week, I asked you all if you would rather have 1K blog followers or 10K Twitter followers.

I'm not surprised to find that blog followers won the overall vote (though I wonder if the results would have been different it this was polled on Twitter) . . . but I am surprised with the general perception about Twitter from the people that answered.

Perhaps Twitter doesn't allow the same deep insight as a blog post does, I won't argue that. But on the flip side, when you're pressed for time and want to let people know you're thinking about them, you can easily check in with a dozen or so in the same time it takes to read & respond to your average blog post.

I think, balancing a good blend of the two is a smart idea. Heck, I'm a blogging writer and I'll admit there are very few published authors blogs I visit with any regularity. But I know exactly what's going on with Richelle Mead or Cassandra Clare because (as Betty White would say) they're on The Twitter.

Now on to this week's question:

If you were forced to live as character from a fantasy saga (in their world, not ours), would you rather be in . . . ?

A)  Lord of The Rings


B)  Harry Potter

Bonus question:  Which character would you like to be and why?

March 14, 2011 | By: Tracy

Sometimes, I Like to Do it Nice & Slow

You darn perverts! Don't think I don't know why you came in when you saw the title.  ;o)

No sexy talk in here today (Though if you like the romancy stuff you might want to head over to Chocolate & Spice, a new blog I'm collaborating on with Stina and Anya: where we post about all things romance)

Now, back to me.

Like most of my fellow writers, I'm also a voracious reader. And again, like most, I have a TBR pile large enough to build a fort for myself and a small group of friends . . . to find out what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real.

Oh, sorry, ADHD attack.

Anyway, lately, I've been sort of rushing through series because I've got a self-imposed deadline.

My good buddy Misty wouldn't shut up about Karen Marie Moning's FEVER series and with the final book being released last month, I knew there was no way she'd be able to keep silent for long. So I read all 5 books in the space of four weeks. (It was a hell of a ride too!)

Oh, I also just crawled out from the rock I've been under and finally started The Mortal Instruments series. (I really shouldn't find moody, teenage Nephilim quite so attractive). I've finished the first book, and have approximately 3 weeks to read the next two books in the series so I'm ready for the City of Fallen Angels release next month.

So, I made myself a promise when I opened The Iron King by Julie Kagawa.  I've decided to slow down and take my time with Julie's books.

She's a TREMENDOUS writer and I could easily see myself sitting down & reading The Iron King in one sitting . . . but I've forced myself to relax and enjoy 10 pages a day.

That's right. I'm doing the slow savor.

And because it's only ten pages (which equates to about ten minutes) no matter how busy my day is, I can always find time to fit in my daily fix.

If you've never done this sort of thing before I'd definitely suggest you give it a try. Instead of speed dating, it's like having an old-fashioned courtship. (I also highly recommend giving Julie's books a try if you haven't already. I'm not even finished the first and I definitely give it my seal of approval!)

Anyone else do the slow read from time to time or is it just me?
March 11, 2011 | By: Tracy

Why Treat Teen Girls Differently?

There's been much debate about the topic of sex in young adult novels. How much is too much? Should there be any mention of it at all? Etc, etc.

I have my own feelings on the subject, but that isn't the point of this post.

However, it got me to thinking of a somewhat mentioned concept that, perhaps, we should be treating teenage females differently than adults with their fiction content.

By this, I mean, there's a notion that young adult stories should be mindful of setting a "good example" for young women. And I kinda think that's crap.

Don't get me wrong. I have no interest in writing (or reading) YA stories that completely debase or distort a young woman's sense of self worth, or glorify things that have no business being glorified . . . but at the same time, why the reluctance to believe teen girls can distinguish the difference between fiction and real life?

Is it really setting such unrealistic expectations for them to read a story about a girl who gives her virginity to a boy who genuinely loves her, with the hope of Happily Ever After? Considering so many are the product of divorced/single parents, it's a good chance they understand odds of finding forever love with their high school sweetheart are extremely slim.

The same way I realize there just aren't that many straight, drop-dead gorgeous, ex-military playboys who are willing to cease their womanizing ways to settle down and raise a family with me. . . yet, I like reading those stories anyway.

Maybe, I don't have quite the same protective streak because I'm not a mom. It just seems I remember shaping more of my life decisions and expectations, back then, based on the experiences I learned through my real life friends. So I tend to think the content of stories doesn't matter quite as much as some might think.

Since fiction is nothing if not subjective, I'm curious to hear where you all stand. Whether you're a YA writer. A parent of a teenager. Or both.
March 9, 2011 | By: Tracy

Would You Rather - Wednesday (Battle of the Social Networks)

Alright people, we need to have a little talk here.

I know some of these questions can be tough to choose, because - depending on your circumstances - there may be no clear cut winner. I get that. Truly, I do.

But it's called Would You Rather for a reason. Otherwise it would be called In An Ideal World, or If I Could Have Exactly What I Wanted . . . and quite frankly, both of those games sound a little boring to me.

So stop asking me if you can have both or refuse to accept either, 'cause that's cheating!!

Although, it's perfectly okay with me if you admit that you can't bring yourself to choose for the blog. That I respect. It's those of you who try weaseling escape clauses into your answers that I have my eye on.

(Obviously, this is all meant in jest . . . unless I happen to be totally serious)

My research from last week's question : Whether you would rather spend 10 years with your soulmate or 60 years with a runner-up proved that we writers tend to be more like our characters than we admit. (Or maybe it's the other way around).  66% of you decided you would rather deal with the loneliness later than miss out on the time with your soulmate.

Or to quote Shelby from Steele Magnolias: "I would rather have thirty minutes of wonderful than a lifetime of nothing special"  (Sadly, we all know how that turned out)

As sadistic as it sounds (and I'm still not sure I won't change my mind at some point) I think I'd put myself through the torture too.

Now on to this week's social networking focus:

Would you rather have. . . ?

A) One-thousand blog followers


B) Ten-thousand Twitter followers

We're talking genuine followers (no spambots) in both scenarios.
March 7, 2011 | By: Tracy

Muse-ical Inspiration = The Pretty Pretty

Alright, I'm willing to admit when I just need an excuse to post some gratuitous eye candy on my blog. Call them Muses. Call them hot arse men. Call them whatever you like. This is the way I prefer to start off my Monday.

(Fear not, my dear guy blogger buddies. I've included a little eye candy for you as well. But it's at the end, sorry you have to scroll through the muscle first.)

In case anyone forgot, here are a few of my favorite boys:
Henry Cavill

Gabriel Aubry
Jensen Ackles

Shemar Moore

Dear God, if I ever need a first responder PLEASE let it be Taylor Kinney!

Now, moving on to your suggestions!!
March 4, 2011 | By: Tracy

March Book Club Selection -- You Choose!

First of all: Huge thank you to everyone who participated last month. I'm still working out the kinks of running an online book club, and I thank those of you who were willing to join in on the maiden voyage. You RAWK!!

Moving on to this month . . . so, I don't know if I've had a stroke of brilliance or if it's just my brain's way of shirking responsibility for picking the book everyone has to read, but I've decided to loosen up our book club a little.

I still want to alternate between YA and Adult geared novels, just to give everyone a chance to participate & try new things. However, instead of selecting one book, I'll offer up three choices each month.

Choose whichever one best fits your fancy. Then on Friday, April 1st (no fools up in my blog, Yo!) we'll post our discussion thread.

What do you think? Okay, even if you think it's a bad idea . . . tough. These are the rules we're playing by for this go around at least!

So here are this month's choices:

A Brush of Darkness : Allison Pang  (Urban Fantasy)

The man of her dreams might be the cause of her nightmares.
Six months ago, Abby Sinclair was struggling to pick up the pieces of her shattered life. Now, she has an enchanted iPod, a miniature unicorn living in her underwear drawer, and a magical marketplace to manage. But despite her growing knowledge of the OtherWorld, Abby isn’t at all prepared for Brystion, the dark, mysterious, and sexy-as- sin incubus searching for his sister, convinced Abby has the key to the succubus’s whereabouts. Abby has enough problems without having this seductive shape-shifter literally invade her dreams to get information. But when her Faery boss and some of her friends vanish, as well, Abby and Brystion must form an uneasy alliance. As she is sucked deeper and deeper into this perilous world of faeries, angels, and daemons, Abby realizes her life is in as much danger as her heart—and there’s no one she can trust to save her.

Succubus Blues : Richelle Mead  (Paranormal Romance)

When it comes to jobs in hell, being a succubus seems pretty glamorous. A girl can be anything she wants, the wardrobe is killer, and mortal men will do anything just for a touch. Granted, they often pay with their souls, but why get technical?
But Seattle succubus Georgina Kincaid's life is far less exotic. At least there's her day job at a local bookstore—free books; all the white chocolate mochas she can drink; and easy access to bestselling, sexy writer, Seth Mortensen, aka He Whom She Would Give Anything to Touch but Can't.
But dreaming about Seth will have to wait. Something wicked is at work in Seattle's demon underground. And for once, all of her hot charms and drop-dead one-liners won't help because Georgina's about to discover there are some creatures out there that both heaven and hell want to deny...

I Am Number 4 :  Pittacus Lore  (Sci-Fi)

Nine of us came here. We look like you. We talk like you. We live among you. But we are not you. We can do things you dream of doing. We have powers you dream of having. We are stronger and faster than anything you have ever seen. We are the superheroes you worship in movies and comic books—but we are real.
Our plan was to grow, and train, and become strong, and become one, and fight them. But they found us and started hunting us first. Now all of us are running. Spending our lives in shadows, in places where no one would look, blending in. we have lived among you without you knowing.
But they know.
They caught Number One in Malaysia.
Number Two in England.
And Number Three in Kenya.
They killed them all.
I am Number Four.
I am next.

Hopefully there is something here for everyone. Hey, if you want to read more than one of them, knock yourself out.

March 2, 2011 | By: Tracy

Would You Rather -- Wednesday

This week's question is a toughie!!

But before we get to that: real quick blogfest announcement.

Colleen and Alexia are hosting a ST. PATTY'S DAY blogfest.  And you don't even have to be Irish to partake in the festivities, lads and lassies.  Truthfully, I was debating whether to announce it at all, since the less people involved the better my chances at winning one of the prizes!!! Check out the link for details.

In last week's question, you had to decide whether you'd stand your ground even if meant never seeing your work published or settling for a career as ghost writer for a well known author.

The results were pretty interesting. The crew was split right down the middle. The Never Be Published option won by a single vote. Maybe . . .

I had a hard time answering this one, myself. I don't know if I'd be comfortable working as part of a James Patterson-esque machine. Maybe if it was an author whose stories I really enjoyed & I could blend in without people noticing (see VC Andrews comments) then I'd be fine with option B.

So... I guess it's a tie.

Now on to this week:

Would you rather . . . ?

A)  Spend 10 perfect years with your soulmate and then have to carry on the rest of your life without them


B)  Spend 60 content years with someone you feel warmly affectionate toward, but know isn't your true love

Don't grumble too much. I'm actually using this question as research for a story.  ;o)