Dreaming in Character

G.L. Jackson


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Some Kind of Magic

Some Kind of MagicSome Kind of Magic by Mary Ann Marlowe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Those of us who write rock & roll romances know there’s a certain beat you have to meet to keep readers entertained and interested. Unsurprisingly, it’s a lyrical and flowing pace, and I’m so happy to say this book meets the mark. An earnest, honest musician? A discriminating, snarky scientist? A family connection to the music biz? All those items get checked off in this lovely debut book from a talented and accessible writer.

My favorite thing about Some Kind of Magic has to be the writing. Marlowe’s prose doesn’t try to seduce readers into appreciating it. It’s simply there to tell the story in the manner of some of my favorite authors. She doesn’t need smoke and mirrors to be engaging or to draw readers in–her plot and characters do that all by themselves.

If you’re looking for a light, fun, breezy, and sexy romp through the world of rock music (and science), you can’t go wrong with this book. It’s thoroughly enjoyable.

View all my reviews


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Michelle Hauck’s FAITHFUL

The next volume in the Birth of Saints series is available now!

Following Grudging–and with a mix of Terry Goodkind and Bernard Cornwall–religion, witchcraft, and chivalry war in Faithful, the exciting next chapter in Michelle Hauck’s Birth of Saints series!


A world of Fear and death…and those trying to save it.

Colina Hermosa has burned to the ground. The Northern invaders continue their assault on the ciudades-estados. Terror has taken hold, and those that should be allies betray each other in hopes of their own survival. As the realities of this devastating and unprovoked war settles in, what can they do to fight back?

On a mission of hope, an unlikely group sets out to find a teacher for Claire, and a new weapon to use against the Northerners and their swelling army.

What they find instead is an old woman.

But she’s not a random crone—she’s Claire’s grandmother. She’s also a Woman of the Song, and her music is both strong and horrible. And while Claire has already seen the power of her own Song, she is scared of her inability to control it, having seen how her magic has brought evil to the world, killing without reason or remorse. To preserve a life of honor and light, Ramiro and Claire will need to convince the old woman to teach them a way so that the power of the Song can be used for good. Otherwise, they’ll just be destroyers themselves, no better than the Northerners and their false god, Dal. With the annihilation their enemy has planned, though, they may not have a choice.

A tale of fear and tragedy, hope and redemption, Faithful is the harrowing second entry in the Birth of Saints trilogy.
Faithful– November 15, 2016
Harper Voyager

Also enter to win a signed paperback of Grudging, the first book in the series: 

Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway here!

A world of chivalry and witchcraft…and the invaders who would destroy everything.

The North has invaded, bringing a cruel religion and no mercy. The ciudades-estados who have stood in their way have been razed to nothing, and now the horde is before the gates of Colina Hermosa…demanding blood.

On a mission of desperation, a small group escapes the besieged city in search of the one thing that might stem the tide of Northerners: the witches of the southern swamps.

The Women of the Song.

But when tragedy strikes their negotiations, all that is left is a single untried knight and a witch who has never given voice to her power. And time is running out.

A lyrical tale of honor and magic, Grudging is the opening salvo in the Book of Saints trilogy.



GRUDGING
November 17, 2015
Harper Voyager


Find it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Goodreads


Michelle Hauck lives in the bustling metropolis of northern Indiana with her hubby and two kids in college. Besides working with special needs children by day, she writes all sorts of fantasy, giving her imagination free range. A book worm, she passes up the darker vices in favor of chocolate and looks for any excuse to reward herself. Bio finished? Time for a sweet snack.

She is a co-host of the yearly contests Query Kombat, Nightmare on Query Street, and Sun versus Snow.

Her Birth of Saints trilogy, starting with Grudging and Faithful (November 15, 2016), is available from Harper Voyager. Another epic fantasy, Kindar’s Cure, is published by Divertir Publishing. She’s repped by Marisa Corvisiero of Corvisiero Literary.


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It’s not over until it’s over

Hi! I remember blogging! I remember having time to sit down and compose well-planned and thoughtful blog posts! I knew one day I’d have the time to do it again.

Today is not that day. Fooled you! I’ve been more than knee-deep in Pitch Wars revision passes, refining, fine-tuning. Eradicating crutch words, erasing bad habits, spit-shining and polishing my manuscript. Writing the supplemental material: query letter, synopsis, pitch, and as one of my mentors put it, taking a chisel to my first page so that despite the fact there’s an entire novel to follow, it’s compelling all by itself.

Not too much to ask!

During the course of Pitch Wars I’ve learned:

  • how to survive on almost no sleep
  • potato chips are really not a great substitute for real food
  • the more you use “just a cup of coffee at Starbucks” as a reward for writing, the faster you qualify for more free drinks than you want
  • I can rewrite an entire novel in a very short period of time if I have to
  • When given the secret formula for supplemental material, I can take off my “I’m no good at marketing” hat and write those too
  • why scene maps are important
  • why outlining is a great idea
  • genre-specific story arcs exist for a reason and sure, I can be a rebel, but then I won’t have the type of book I want
  • this year’s mentees are a wonderful group of people and I’m so thankful to have taken this roller coaster ride with them
  • this year’s mentors are a wonderful group of people. I lucked out having two (thanks, Mary Ann and Jaime!)
  • It’s a real kick to find that people like my characters and stories and want more

GROUP HUG!

I could go on with haphazard lists, but I have to say that this has been an outstanding experience. Yes, my house isn’t as organized as it was two months ago and sure, I ate some of (okay, a lot of) the Halloween candy out of nerves and no, the agent showcase hasn’t started yet, but no matter what happens when the Adult/NA entries go up tomorrow, I’ve already “won” Pitch Wars. Just ask the friends I’ve made, the people I’ve met, the people I’m still planning on meeting. Look at the book I’ve written. This contest makes for great common ground. Whether my co-mentees have been writing Adult manuscripts like me, or New Adult or Young Adult or Middle Grade, we all have this shared experience. It’s humbled and enlightened me. It’s rejuvenated my love of writing. It’s taught me so much… you get the idea.

There will be a playlist post soon. In the meantime, I’ll be quiet.


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Distraction Techniques

Writing contests. Love them or hate them, they’re about as nerve-racking as a thing can be. They’re right up there on par with being called for jury duty or watching the minutes tick away on a delayed flight with a tight connection. So what am I doing to distract myself during the final countdown for Pitch Wars?

  • Mind games. As always, I’m trying to psych myself into accepting that I won’t get in. The odds are not remotely in my favor. Almost 2000 entrants vying for the attention of 100-something mentors? Those odds aren’t great. They’re incrementally better than having a query letter pulled out of a slush pile, but they’re still daunting odds. But really, what’s the worst thing that can happen? My manuscript isn’t selected. Maybe I get some feedback on it, maybe I don’t. That only means I’m sitting in the same position I’m in right now: no better, no worse. I remember how I felt last year when I didn’t make the cut. Disappointed, sure, but I was still so happy for those who did. I know how to do disappointment, and I do it well. Wallow for ten minutes, then get on with things. Humans are a fairly resilient race.
  • Reading. Yesterday I devoured Balaraba Ramat Yakubu’s Sin is a Puppy That Follows You Home, which I want to review on Goodreads when I gather my thoughts sufficiently. I’m not sure which book I’ll start today. Maybe I’ll finish reading Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg (I’m more than halfway done). With the Olympics over, the TV is on less in our house and that means I have more space to concentrate on reading.
  • Binge-watching. I started watching Stranger Things on Netflix. I’ve heard the buzz about it, but am relatively unspoiled for how it will play out. Three episodes down, five to go. That ought to last another night or so.
  • Cooking. I’ve pulled out all the recipes I want to try and have been stockpiling ingredients. I have one recipe for vegan (avocado & cashew) peppermint cacao-chip ice cream sandwiched between raw chocolate “cookies” from the My New Roots cookbook. All I have to do is remember to soak the cashews first, but I have the rest of the ingredients. This ought to be fun! I also have a recipe for vegetarian peanut soup (most is made with chicken stock) that looks delicious.
  • Playing. For me, it’s endless Solo Play matches of Words with Friends. Okay, I am a word nerd, I admit it. It’s great to have something that provides a moment’s focus, now and always.

There are plenty of other things I should be doing, but my delicate flower of a psyche can only take so much at once. I’m trying not to stalk the Pitch Wars hashtag, because it feels too much like gift-rattling. Or like being drawn toward an explosion or train wreck and not knowing how to look away.

If I don’t get selected (notice I didn’t say when, I’m still an optimist at heart), I plan on setting up a community for people seeking beta readers on imzy, which I find I’m liking more than I expected. By the way, if you’re interested in imzy and need an invite code, I have several. Just let me know.

Long story short: no matter what happens, life goes on. Friendships and relationships forged won’t simply disappear based on the outcome of a contest. I’ll still be dreaming about my characters and plotting new and ever more devious ways to put them through the wringer so they can come out stronger on the other side.

How about you, fellow writers? How are you holding up?


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It’s almost November (or: how I #NaNoWriMo)

Over on Twitter, a friend asked if I had any tips for a first-time NaNoWriMo participant. This will be my third year doing NaNo, which hardly makes me an expert. It does help me learn a few things about myself and my writing process, and the ways I can push myself to take advantage of the sparkling creativity that’s so easy to brush to the floor most of the time!

That’s my purple-prose way of saying here are the tips I shared.

  1. Treat writing like a job. I get up in the morning, get dressed like I’m going to work, and sit down and write for two hours. There are a million ways to put off writing – that’s why I do mine first thing in the morning. That way I can procrastinate on all the other things in my life…once I’ve made my word count.
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  3. I set my own word count goals. To complete a NaNo “novel” the goal is 1667 words a day, but we all know a 50k novel is a little on the short side. If you want a longer first draft, up your word count goal. It’s not as difficult as it seems! When all else fails, I look at my writing as a series of 100 words at a time. I can write those all day long, so doing 20 of them is not a big deal.
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  5. Don’t stop and edit. Just write, every day. The goal is to come up with a first draft, not a finished novel. That’s what the rest of the year is for.
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  7. If you can find a cheerleader willing to read your words every day or week, that’s a great way to motivate yourself to keep going. Not a critique partner, just a cheerleader who’ll tell you they love your work and can’t wait to read more.
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  9. Peruse at least one of the forums on the site, either in your age group or genre, but don’t let it suck up all your time. (Don’t be cowed by the people who claim to have huge word count achievements! I’ve seen people say they got to 50k words the first day. To each their own.)
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  11. A lot of people approach NaNo as if it’s going to consume their every waking moment for the whole month. I’ve never found this to be true: I get my stuff done, then have a perfectly normal life the other 22 hours of the day. (The hype around being too busy at NaNo to do anything but eat badly and leave the house a mess is just that, hype. We’re writers. We know that 1667 words a day is absolutely achievable. In fact, this post is already over 350 words. We write in prolific ways all the time without stopping to count!)
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  13. The one thing NaNo does for me (besides let me tell stories I don’t plot out or go into with much more than vague ideas most of the time) is get me into the habit of daily writing. In my case I don’t sustain it for the other 11 months of the year, but I do use that time for editing and helping my critique partners and for writing queries and loglines, summaries and tip sheets.
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That’s about it. Not too bad, right? If you’re going to try to write a complete first draft in a month, be sure to take deep breaths and appreciate yourself for your word count output in November! Good luck! I’m an excellent cheerleader if anyone needs one. Add me to your buddy list and then drop me a line. I’ll be sure to return the favor.

If you have any tips to add, I’d love to hear them. What works for you doing NaNo?