Friday, August 30, 2013

This blog, it is a-changing.

Hey friends! So I have some fun news today. I'm mixing it up on my blog. And I'm going to be better about posting because I have things to say and I hope you have wants to hear.Judging on the number of contest entries, you do want to hear!

                                                     So here's how it's going to break down.


You know I blog at The Writer Diaries and All The Write Notes. You didn't? Well, I do. So get over there, follow those blogs and all the talented contributing authors.

But here. Right here.  I have things to say that just don't fit other places. Like my love of gifs and hot guys and gifs of hot guys to express how I'm really feeling. The occasional cuss word or rant that may need to grace the screen. My thoughts on things others have blogged about but I need to put in my 25 two cents worth.

So on Monday's the blog will be all about influences. TV shows, books, songs, movies and authors that inspire and influence me. How those things and people make my writing better and help me get over my ruts. And once a month, I'll have an interview with an author or writer I adore.



On Wednesday, the day belongs to my other blog Blog Away The Pounds. It's writers and fitness complete with health tips, interviews, workouts (all able to be done at home!) and inspiration to keep going. Plus, I'll be sharing my personal journey with you. Make sure you follow that one as well, because lots of cool stuff going on.


Fridays I'll be back here talking about writing, the craft, ranting, obligatory hot guy pics, conferences, where I'm at, or even beating my head against a wall. Of course, November and June will belong to Nano's and somedays I'll just ramble, but at least we'll be in touch.


So I'm hoping to have a bit of goodness for everyone.

Why blog so much, Angi? Don't you have 97239187463241 things to do?

Yes. Yes, I do.

But here's why - writing is community and you can't build a community if you don't keep in touch. It's the reason Twitter is better than Facebook. Well, one of the reasons. People talk and connect each day. People interact with one another and become friends. People are there for each other. And I want to bring that same sense of togetherness here to the blog.



So join (both blogs) and pass it along. I thank you kindly.

And to start it off right - obligatory hot guy gif!



And no - I didn't forget!!! The winner of the writer prize pack is .............Trisha Schmidt  (You might know her as @seeredwrite)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The winner of the fitness prize pack is.................. J.C. Gregorio (You might know her as @muchadoaboutJC) 

Congrats both of you!!! And I'll see you all on Monday!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Giveaway. Cause you deserve it.

It's a giveaway!!!

Why?

Because on Friday I'm switching up my blog and making it all new and shiny and I thought, what a great way to say goodbye and hello all at the same time.

Plus, I'm going to have really great info there and fun stuff so I don't want anyone to miss out on it!

Alright - Here's the prizes. There's two, because that's how I do it.

Since my new blog format involves one writing blog and one fitness blog, the prices are related to those things.

Writerly prize:
- A copy of (500) Days of Summer (for a study of storytelling and characterization) (and JGL)*
- A copy of On Writing by Stephen King*
- A crocheted pair of writer gloves in your chosen color
- Swag and a book from RWA
*If you have one of these already, I'll exchange it for a crit on your query from me.

Sound good? Holy cow, I want that prize.

Fitness prize:
- A copy of a TV Workout that's going to be featured on the blog. You can choose TVD, Supernatural, or Harry Potter.*
- A water bottle from RWA
- Elastic workout bands
- Notepads, pens, etc to track your progress.
*If you don't watch one of these, I have other shows.

Here's the link for the fitness blog. Alright - now. To the Rafflecopter.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

So it starts today and we'll draw Friday for winners! So join the blogs and  tell your friends!

Also - I have a Pinterest page for my novels and WIPs. You can find me at All The Write Notes and The Writer Diaries, too.

Thanks for entering and good luck!!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Blog Tour: Rachel O'Laughlin COLDNESS OF MAREK




                     Hey friends! Today on the blog I have the lovely Rachel O'Laughlin as a guest.

 Obsessed with all things history, Rachel O’Laughlin grew up writing adventure stories and only recently fell in love with fantasy as a genre. She lives in New England with her husband and children, grows roses and tweets often. She adores lattes, The Fray, long drives in the country, and any dark story with a good twist. Coldness of Marek is her first novel.

                                         and her brand new book COLDNESS OF MAREK.






                                                            COLDNESS OF MAREK
                                                                     Epic Fantasy
                                                      The First in the Serengard Series
                                                                     Available now
Serengard has been under Orion rule for centuries—centuries of insufferable adherence to laws and traditions that its people no longer believe in. Raised by her scholarly grandfather in the fiery southern city of Neroi, Trzl is dedicated to turning the monarchy into a free society where knowledge is king and no one has to be subject to the whims of an Orion.
As the rebellion escalates, her choices have an eerie impact on the revolution at large, elevating her to a position of influence she has only dreamed of attaining. But there are downsides to her new power that entangle her in a dangerous web of emotions, appearances and alliances. Even as she plays to the attractions of Hodran, a rich nobleman who wants to aid her cause, she is drawn to Mikel, a loyalist farmer who hates the rebellion but just might be winning her heart.
By the time Trzl realizes she is in too deep, she has an infant son and a dark mess of betrayal and lies. She runs to the furthest corner of the kingdom in hopes that she will be left alone with her child, but she has created too many demons. A figure she once trusted will take her captive in the chilling Cliffs of Marek, throw her back into the political upheaval she helped create, and leave her at the mercy of a man she never wanted for an enemy.
 
Here's the interview: 
 
1. Tell us a bit about you.
I’m a TV addict. My favorite show ever is Firefly. I love coffee, especially hazelnut lattes, and when I’m having a bad week (or month), my cure is to go shopping. Even if I can’t buy anything, just walking into the mall makes me smile. Yeah, I’m that girl.

2. Tell us about COLDNESS OF MAREK.
It's the story of a young woman who is at the forefront of a rebellion against the monarchy of her native kingdom of Serengard. But things start to get complicated for her when she develops feelings for a loyalist…who is basically everything she hates.

3. What inspired you to write COLDNESS OF MAREK?
I wanted to write a fantasy with a political twist for a long time, and I’d always had a vague picture of the character Mikel in my mind, but it was all hazy. I attempted it when I was thirteen and it wasn’t pretty. When I sat down to draft an adventure novel eight years later, there was this image of cliffs that went on for hundreds of miles, and the rugged people who lived there, so I just ran with it. Trzl became the main character because she reminded me of a friend of mine, and being inside her head was fascinating for me, and the story took on more and more fantasy elements the more times I revised. It was definitely the kind of novel that came to me piece by piece. I’m still surprised that it turned out to be my debut.

4. Do you have a process you follow when you write? any funny quirks?
Some months I can't write anything, and then other months I get on a streak where I can pound out ALL THE WORDS. It usually has to do with what TV I’ve been watching, who I’ve been hanging out with, what I’ve been eating, or if I’ve had awesome dreams lately (truth!). But setting aside National Novel Writing Month to fast draft is pretty much the best thing ever. It helps me push through all of those barriers.
I guess I don’t have any cool quirks, besides the fact that I can’t write with distractions. I wait until the kids are napping and then I get HULK ANGRY if the phone rings.
5. What brought you to your decisions about publishing COLDNESS OF MAREK?
Long story, but I had COLDNESS printed in it’s earlier, once-revised form, just to get feedback. I didn’t imagine there were other writers out there who would give me actual helpful critiques on my manuscript, so I went straight to readers. Pretty stupid mistake. Even though people liked it, and the exposure was cool, it wasn’t very polished, and I took it off the market as soon as I realized how lame I was.
For awhile I just listened and learned from what other authors were doing, and from Dahlia Adler’s blog [http://thedailydahlia.wordpress.com](I swear, I would be lost without her). And THEN, I decided I really did want to stick with self-publishing for this series. I feel that the format of the novels is unique, for sure, but not the kind of unique agents are looking for at the moment. I also found that I didn’t actually WANT an agent, not with Serengard. I want to let it bloom slowly. It just seems right for this story.

6. How has the experience been?
Incredible! Everyone I’ve worked with has been wonderful, and I’ve accomplished just what I wanted to in all areas. My book is out there in the world and people are reading it, so I’m happy.
7. Do you use music when you write? Any one song sum up a character or this story for you?
Not while I write — because I get too into it and have a hard time focusing — but I have a playlist that I listen to in the off-time [http://letsgetnerdy.blogspot.com/2013/08/musicalmonday-rachelolaughlin.html]. The song that means the most for this book is probably Fall Away by The Fray, but The Hardest Part by Coldplay and Everybody by Keith Urban have a special place as well.
8. How long did it take you to write this book?
Roughly seven months. I wrote it in a month, did one revision, then printed it. After I took it off the market, I let it stew in it’s juices for awhile before doing a full rewrite. With revisions and edits, the rewrite came to about five months.
9. Why and when did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I’m one of those people who always wrote novels — like, since I was five — just because I love it so much. I was never sure I’d have the courage to let people read my words, though. (Probably a good thing nobody read my teenage novels.) Putting my work out there is super scary, but I’ve been lucky to have amazing editors — Darci Cole and Rebecca Weston — who know what to take out and what to keep in. They’re pretty much my lifesavers.

And now - five fun facts!
Favorite food?
Fried Haddock. Best deep sea fish EVER.
Favorite movie?
Notorious — the one with Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman.
Pets? (How many, what kind)
None at the moment. My two little boys keep me a little too busy, lol. Once they’re about 4 or 5, we’ll spring for a German Shepherd, I think.
Lucky number?
Tends to be 17.
Best Fortune cookie message you've ever gotten (or make up a good one!)
My dad gave me one when I was a kid that said: The duck who keeps his head in the water will quack up. That’s pretty much standard New England humor. It still makes me laugh.
 
 Thanks so much for stopping by the blog, Rachel! Your book is great! I read it and even though high fantasy isn't my norm, I got really attached to your characters and can't wait for the next book.

You can find links to all thing Rachel O'Laughlin and COLDNESS OF MAREK below! So go on, go get a copy!
 
Get COLDNESS OF MAREK here:
 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

RWA recap

So in case you hadn't heard, a little thing called RWA happened in Atlanta a couple weeks ago and I was lucky enough to go and hang and learn.

For those that don't know, RWA is Romance Writer's of America. But it's so much more. It was almost a week long and filled with top-notch speakers, agents, editors and writers from all over the place. I went with the amazing Louise Fury. That woman gets it done and apparently needs no sleep. I was taunted endlessly for needing my pillow at all over the conference, but all the 5-hour energy shots I took were worth it. I learned so many things.



First - I learned once again, just like at RT, there is no better place to get your mojo cranking and your excitement about writing and reading back up to Ludicrous Speed than a writer's conference. Everyone there loves words just like you. And many of them love your words. And they all encourage you and cheer you and you return the favor and at the end of your time together, you're certain that the next year's best seller shelf will consist of books written only by all of you! (For me - I'm sure this is true because I have amazingly talented friends!)



Second - I met more people I only knew from Twitter. And as in the past, they were just as awesome in person. Actually, more awesome. I've found out this about writers: None of have time to be something we're not online, because we're really busy working hard on our art. I have to think that's why, out of all the people I've met in real life, only one has turned out less than stellar. And the signs were there online. I'm just someone who looks for the good in people so I chose to ignore the signs. This leads to being crushed once in a while. But it's who I am.


But meeting my friends, in person, having laughs and creating great memories? That outweighs any chance of finding one bad apple in the bunch.

But here's what everyone wants to know - what did I learn? 
So I've compiled a list of my learnings below. I hope you find them helpful and they lure convince you to RT RWA a conference next year.


1) Your cover matters. You have to have a great cover. You could have an amazing book on your hands, but if your cover doesn't make it jump into reader's hands, it doesn't matter. "Don't judge a book by its cover." Yeah, no. People TOTALLY judge it by that. I heard it over and over and I watched it in action at the signings for Avon and Harlequin.

2) Your title matters. As writers, we often pick a title because we use this logic. "Once they read, they'll get it." This is true and we're very clever for thinking it. It's like a speical gift to our readers that people outside the club won't get. BUT NO ONE IS IN YOUR CLUB IF THEY DON'T READ YOUR BOOK. Your title has to convey something about the book and draw in the reader to convince them to read it. Clever titles will have to wait for sequels or novellas. But while you're building your brand, your title means everything.

3) Say my name, say my name, say my name. Well, really your name. Say your name. Hi, my name is ______. I wrote this book. Here's the high concept. You know what matter's most? YOUR NAME! It's your brand. Don't be afraid to say it. I'm terrible at this. I went to bat for some of my friends' books at RWA. I could tell you the hook, what it is about, why you should read it, and I must have said their names a hundred times. But my own? Well, I'm Angi but I did this and the description of my book is *turns into unintelligible mumbles until I'm kicking rocks* You know what that gets you? A great seat in the cheerleading stand while your friends books climb the charts.

That's not a bad place to be. At all. I love it when my friends succeed. But I want a career, too. So it is important to make sure you know your own work as well as others. It's more important that you believe in your own work as much as you believe in others. But the most important? Say your name. Have business cards. Makes sure your name on your book is either the biggest thing or just as big as the title. It's your brand. You must market it just like the story you tell. This is a big one, people. Take note!

Okay, now, I know you're thinking, but I don't self-pub or design my covers. Fine, but you have final say. If you don't, get a new deal. Tweak it and make sure your name stands out. Don't believe me? Go to your book shelf right now. Look at your favorite author's books. There names are front and center. They might even have the same font for their name for all the books. Branding is important. You're making a career. Think of your self as a movie star.

Let's say you love Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Just off the top of my head). Five movies are playing. You know very little about any of them but it's movie night. You're going to pick the JGL movie because he's in it, not because of content.



Now think about release day. Five books come out. Someone goes to the book store with the goal of leaving with a book. They see your name based on the brand you've built. They're leaving with your book, because of you, not the content. (Side note: Obviously content is important. But I'm talking about branding.)

4) Everything you do online and in this community follows you, precedes you, and might even speak louder than your writing. When you build someone up and are good to people and give back to the community, it matters. If you're a force for good and you say, my friend wrote this, look at it, it actually carries weight. On the other hand, if you do mean things like all take-no give and bad mouth people, even if you think it doesn't get around...trust me, it does. I saw it in action, first hand.

If you lie about offers you're getting or someone being your agent when they are not or referrals you didn't receive, people know. And pretty quickly, your name falls off the good radar and in to places you don't wanna be. Be honest. Be nice. Be thoughtful in what you put online. Be mindful of what you say to who in this community because guess what? A lot of us are friends and not just on Twitter. Hurt our friends and it'll come back to haunt you.

Do you really think agents and editors don't talk just because they're at different agencies? Do you think because they vie for the same authors and MS's that they aren't friends in real life? Then you might want to think again.

5) Things most asked for - billionaires, ranchers/cowboys, more LGBT stories, and new adult.

6) Passionate Ink parties are amazing. Drinks, bondage tape, a spanking, gumbo. It rocked.

7) Smart Bitches party - blues, mustaches, drinks, great food serve in champagne glasses, Mina Vaughn. It was a highlight.

8) Have I mentioned that I love Louise Fury? Because I do. It was so, so, so wonderful to see her in action and I learned so much from her. She is a force and so damn positive. Wow. And does she ever believe in her clients! You want someone like her in your corner. The biggest thing I learned is what people mean when they say "My agent is so excited about my books! That's how I knew!" I totally get that now.

9) It's subjective. I know. That word. It's an awful word. But oh my goodness, is it ever true. Even people on the same panels had differing opinions and thoughts about books, ideas, genres, the industry. It was so fantastic to see it in action vs. through email from the other side of the glass. But I'll tell you something, when you see someone show their passion for a project and a writer, wow. There's nothing like it. And you're grateful for the subjective nature because it helps to guide your words into the right hands.

10) You're never too old to start. You're never too old to write. If you ever doubt your talent, think about giving up your craft, still care what you're writing day after day, give up one day and go back to it the next, have a story to tell, are willing to follow the rules, are willing to break the rules, and you won't rest until your story is in the hands of readers - then you are a writer! Everyone wants to write a book. A tenth of those do it. A tenth of those make it past the first round of revision/rejection. A tenth of those make it through the entire process. Even less hold on for publications and paychecks. The only difference between failure and success? The writers didn't quit. They kept writing. They kept working. They never gave up because they had a story to tell.

And that's the biggest thing I learned at RWA. I AM a writer. I'm a story teller. I have things to say and want people to read them. And until I've told every story I have to tell, I'll be out there working my way to the goal, cheering on my friends and holding on to my writing family with everything I've got.