Saturday, December 31, 2011

Mermaid Books to Read in 2012!

I don't know about you, but I am LOVING blog-hoping today! All those lists of great books read in 2011, resolutions for 2012, and soon-to-be-read-books of 2012 can get a girl giddy.

My resolution is too simple to have a whole blog post dedicated to it: work harder than ever before on Dark Waters until it's beautifully polished and unable to be put down by my beta readers. This means combing through books on editing and ultimately dedicating myself to honing my skill of the craft. *You can read the premise for Dark Waters by clicking on My Writing page*

I told you it was simple and short. So this post is dedicated to more than resolutions. But books too! Woohoo!

These are the amazing-looking mermaid books I can't wait to start reading in 2012. Most are by debut authors which is more than a little exciting!

Here's my version of the most anticipated mermaid books of 2012:

Calder White lives in the cold, clear waters of Lake Superior, the only brother in a family of merpeople obsessed with killing Jason Hancock, the man they blame for their mother’s death. To lure the aquaphobic Hancock onto the lake, the mermaids charge Calder with the task of seducing the man’s daughter, seventeen-year-old Lily Hancock. “Get close to the daughter,” they tell him, “and you’ll get close to the family. Get close to the family, and you’ll get close to the man. Get him out on the water. We’ll take care of the rest.”
But Calder screws everything up by falling in love. Now he’s in the unenviable position of trying to love the girl while simultaneously plotting her father’s murder. Suffice it to say, his sisters aren’t pleased with his effort, and Calder’s running out of time (and excuses).

Set against the backdrop of a Coney Island summer comes The Vicious Deep, the story of sixteen year old Tristan Hart whose life is turned upside down when the mermaids make an unscheduled return to land in search of their new king. 

When a sudden storm pulls Tristan from lifeguard duty into a deadly riptide, he discovers what he really is—a prince of the Sea Court. Turns out, his girlfriend hopping and talents as a swimmer aren’t caused by his teenage prime hormones after all. 

In this modern Arthurian tale with a twist, when all a guy wants to do is get The Girl and enjoy the freak show that is a Coney Island summer, Tristan has to fight for his life, the lives of his friends, and his humanity, if he still wants it, as he’s caught in a race for a throne that is as ancient as the gods.

When a hurricane hits her island home and she wakes up with fins, Yara finds herself tangled up in an underwater world of mysterious merfolk and secretive selkies. Both sides believe Yara can save them by fulfilling a broken promise and opening the sealed gateway to their realm, but they are battling over how it should be done. The selkies want to take her life. The merfolk want something far more precious. 

Treygan, the stormy-eyed merman who turned Yara mer, will stop at nothing and sacrifice everything to protect his people—until he falls for Yara. The tides turn as Yara fights to save herself, hundreds of sea creatures, and the merman who has her heart. She could lose her soul in the process—or she might open the gateway to a love that’s deeper than the oceans. 

Young Adult fans of Mermaids, Selkies, Sirens and Gorgons will love this tale of the sacrifice one makes for genuine love. Love that could be lost at any moment to the ever-changing tides.

Emma and her friend Chloe are spending vacation in Florida. When Emma (literally) runs into a hot guy named Galen on the beach, little does she know he’s a prince of the Syrena. Galen and Emma both feel something strange – is it attraction? – and Galen suspects that Emma might well be the girl he’s heard of – a human who can communicate with fish. 

What follows is a deadly scene with a shark in which Galen witnesses Emma’s gifts. He must know more about her, and follows her back to New Jersey, and high school, to find out for sure if she’s the key to saving his kingdom. Soon, Emma can’t deny her feelings for him, but can’t explain them, either – and both she and Galen must learn more about where she comes from and what her powers are before they can trust one another and their feelings.

She wanted her life to change... he wanted his to stay the same. 

Best friends share everything with each other. Or do they? Seventeen-year-old Ashlyn Frances Lanski is tired of her boring, single life. Spending time with her best friend Tatiana, dreaming about kissing Tatiana's twin brother Fin, and swimming competitively are her only sanctuary. The girls plan to leave their drab lakeside town far behind for college. But when Tatchi fails to return home after a family emergency, and no one knows where the family has gone, Ash chooses to do something drastic to find them. 

Ashlyn is about to discover what she'd thought to be true her whole life, wasn't, and the truth, too fantastical to imagine. Secrets lurk beneath the deep blue waters of Lake Tahoe, secrets that will change Ashlyn's life forever.

When fourteen-year-old Luce is assaulted on the cliffs near an Alaskan village, she expects to die when she tumbles into the icy water below. Instead, she transforms into a mermaid. Luce is thrilled with her new life—until she discovers the catch.

 Gemma Fisher lives an ordinary life in the quiet seaside town of Capri, where she shares a close bond with her sister Harper and a budding attraction with her gorgeous neighbor Alex. But everything changes when three stunningly beautiful girls arrive in Capri and seem to cast a spell the whole town. After a chance encounter with them, Gemma wakes up alone on the beach with no memory of what happened…and a sneaking suspicion that they somehow bespelled her. Now Gemma has a host of new powers she can’t control or understand. She’s growing more beautiful every day, and she has a strange effect on men that makes them unable to resist her—especially when she sings. But she’s also overwhelmed by strange cravings that feel all wrong, and she begins to suspect the girls have a dark side that goes beyond anything she ever knew existed. The girls, she discovers, are sirens—and now she’s about to enter a strange new world brimming with dark beauty…and unimaginable secrets.

When Adrianne comes face-to-face with the mermaid of Windwaithe Island, of whom she has heard terrible stories all her life, she is convinced the mermaid means to take her younger sister. Adrianne, fierce-willed and courageous, is determined to protect her sister from the mermaid, and her family from starvation. However, the mermaid continues to haunt Adrianne in her dreams and with her song.
Yet, when the islanders find out about Adrianne's encounters with the mermaid she is scorned, for this small and superstitious community believes the mermaid will bring devastation to the island if Adrianne does not give herself to the sea.
A powerful and lyrical story of one girl who must choose between having everything and having those she loves.

Nothing has been the same for Will ever since what happened last summer. One day, on an ordinary sailing trip with his brother, there is a strange accident. When Will wakes up, he learns his brother has disappeared, presumed drowned. Worst of all, Will can't remember what happened—his family finds him unconscious, with no memory of the accident.
Now Will and his best friend and neighbor, Gretchen, are starting a new summer. Gretchen seems troubled—her sleepwalking habit is getting worse, and she keeps waking up closer and closer to the water. Will is drawn to Asia, the exotic new girl in town. Nobody knows where she's from—all Will knows is that her beauty and her mesmerizing voice have a powerful effect on people.
Then there is another mysterious drowning, and Will and Gretchen begin to wonder: Is Asia just another beautiful, wealthy summer resident? Or is she something entirely more sinister . . . and inhuman?

What do you think? Are any of these going on your TBR list? Which books are you excited about reading in 2012?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My Personality Flaw

When I was younger, I had this character flaw, only at the time I hadn't realized it was a flaw. See, I often found myself judging people. Now, I know what you'r thinking, that judging is a normal human thing. And I would completely agree with you except that I took it a step (or more) farther than most.

I pigeon-holed folks.

Basically, I would compile a list of their character traits in my mind and then find the best "personality hole" to stuff them in, forevermore equating everything they did and said as a person from that "personality hole". In time my thoughts sounded a bit like this: "oh he's making _______ mistake because he's _______ type of person." See? Gross huh?

A while ago I noticed this about myself and worked hard to ignore that nagging voice in my mind that yearned to pigeon-hole others. I got pretty good at silencing that voice too. Until about a two years ago. Yah, that's when it all changed. That's when someone openly pigeon-holed me. More than a someone, but a whole group of someones who I mistakenly thought were close family friends.

Of-course they were all wrong in their assumptions, but it taught me a huge lesson and completely silenced that judgmental voice within me to the point of non-existent. I didn't even have to fight it.

Last night I had a dream, and it's something I've been doing a lot. See, lately I've been kind of stuck with Dark Waters, my WIP. I've edited it a few times, had critique partners scour it and beta readers enjoy it, but I just don't feel like it's ready. I had prayed recently for help, for direction, so I'm not shocked that about once or twice a week I get a dream with a puzzle piece answer to my questions. In my dream was a particularly irritating man who despite my best efforts, I couldn't get along with. Finally, in my dream, I ended up getting so fed up with him that I placed him in a pigeon-hole as a way to explain his behavior.

When I woke up, I immediately understood the point of that dream. You know how "they" say to write what you know? Well, we know this transcends into personalities too, but I had been too afraid to touch the particularly irritating people in my life. To use pieces of their personalities. I think one of the points of the dream was to use those people, to not shy away from the abrasive, frustrating characters in my life as far as using them in my fiction because it's normal and natural to have those types of people so my protagonist should also experience those types.

Secondly, when writing, it's okay to pigeon-hole. In fact, that makes for a more rounded character. I've been so against judging others that I have completely failed at judging my own characters! God made me, He has every right to judge me. I created my characters and I have every right to judge them too! I need to know that they do this and that because their this type of person.

I realize this eye-opening stuff is probably obvious to most, but it's a pretty big deal to me so I wanted to pass it along just in case it can be helpful to someone else. What do you think? Do you make it a habit to judge your characters?        

Friday, December 16, 2011

Character Creation with Author Sarah Sundin

Happy Friday!

Wow, do I have a ton going on this weekend! My Mother-In-law flies in tomorrow morning which will begin a flurry-filled week of delicious restaurants, Christmas shopping and lots of chat time. But, before I get to insane house cleaning, I'd like to close this week with our last interview installment with Sarah Sundin.

Today she's sharing a little bit about her books, and how she came up with her diverse characters. So lets get to it. :)

Have you always written WW2 fiction?
I actually started off writing contemporary romance. Icompleted two and had an idea for turning them into a seven-book series. Theidea for my first World War II book, ADistant Melody, sprang out of that second book. After a year of researchand writing, I realized I had to write a trilogy. Right now, World War II seemsto be where my “voice” is at, and I have plenty of ideas for more books, soI’ll stick with it. And I love the era. 

The Wings of Glory Series is a compilation of three booksthat follow the three Novak brothers in their separate tours of duty duringWorld War II. Did any of the brothers’ (Walter, Jack, or Raymond) charactertraits come from the men in your life? If so, which traits?
Living with a husband and two sons gives me lots oftestosterone material to work with. The brotherly teasing and rivalry I showedwith the Novak boys happens in my house all the time. My daughter—stuck in themiddle—gets in plenty of shots of her own. But all three Novak boys are theirown selves, completely fictional and products of my imagination. Though mydragon-loving youngest son is convinced I used a recurring dragon motif in Blue Skies Tomorrow just because of him.I didn’t, but he does not believe me.

In writing the ladies who ended up being the love interestsof the Novak brothers, which female character do you think you’d get along bestwith in real life? Why?
I’ve often wondered that myself. While temperamentally I’mmost like Allie Miller in A DistantMelody—we’re both people-pleasing introverts—in real life, the women I tendto be closest to are blunt-talking extroverts, more like Ruth Doherty in A Memory Between Us. And to tell you thetruth, I’d admire Helen Carlisle from BlueSkies Tomorrow, but I’d probably keep my distance out of fear that she’dtalk me into serving on some committee.

Each of your main characters has a personal struggle and afault they are trying to deal with. What would you say is the hardest part inbalancing a character’s good with their bad while keeping them likable to thereader?
You used the key word in your question—balance. Think aboutthe people you like in real life—lots of good traits you adore, a few quirksthat annoy you, and some deep things inside that they’re struggling with—sins,pain, shame, fears. The best characters have this too. In moderation, flawsmake characters more likable because we relate better to imperfect people thanto supposedly perfect people. However, in your characters, make sure the goodqualities really shine and that she shows growth in her flawed areas. Thatgives the reader hope that she can change too.

For those of you who enjoy historical fiction, I highly suggest the Wings of Glory Series. Everyone who I've loaned my copies to (or bought for friends/family as gifts) have just loved these stories. And not only does Sarah write well, she's about as sweet as they come as far as fellow authors go. When I first met her online, she was doing a blog tour for her first book, A Distant Melody. Seeing as she wrote WWII fiction, and I was in the process of also writing a story from that era, I sought her out. Then she did something I didn't expect; she reached back. And not in the be-my-blog-follower-sort of way. She has helped and encouraged me in so many faucets of writing and I can't wait to one day meet her face-to-face and buy her a cup of coffee. Until then though, I'll continue to read her books and pick her brain.    

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Editing Tips From Published Author Sarah Sundin

Happy Wednesday!

It's day two of my interview with Sarah Sundin, and today we're talking about editing.

Just a recap, Sarah is the author of a series of three books following the Novak brothers through romance and war during WWII. 

She has also just signed a contract for another three book series with Revell about flight nurses during the war. I can't wait to get my hands on those too!

Okay, lets jump in!

Again, thanks for joining us and sharing your insight, Sarah.

What's your method for revision?
The process is getting more streamlined for me over time. With my first books, I did about five levels of revision—plot & character, scene, line, and copy edits, and then a final proofread. Now I do a content edit (combining plot, character, and scene issues), a copy edit, and a final proofread. But the principle is the same—I start with the big picture and work my way down to the micro level.

 How many times did you revise your manuscript before an agent/editor picked it up?
My first novel went through the five main edits I listed above. Since I had five years of rejection letters, I tended to do a full rewrite about once a year. I’m guessing that book went through at least ten full edits.

How perfect (grammar wise) does your story have to be before submitting?
As perfect as possible. Editors and agents are flooded with good stories and are often looking for a reason to say no and clear off their desks. Don’t give them an easy excuse with typos and grammatical mistakes. But as in all things, don’t obsess. Some mistakes could be the kiss of death (“there/they’re/their,” “your/you’re,” etc.), but a few misplaced commas shouldn’t kill you. That said, get a good style manual, such as the Chicago Manual of Style, and learn how to use it. Someday, your editor will love you for your clean manuscript.

Are Beta readers necessary in your opinion?
I think so. I’m often surprised how many ways a sentence can be read, or how a character trait I find endearing may grate on people’s nerves. I have five trusted friends who are serious writers or published authors who read my chapters for critique—and I read their work too. I’m also a firm believer in writers groups.

Thanks so much for stopping by and don't forget to return on Friday when I'll be asking Sarah questions about her books and her character development in particular.

What about you? Do you have a method for revision? Do you use Beta readers?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My Teasers: 

"Esmerine raked her fingers through her hair, checking that her beads were still in place before she returned to the main room for hugs and congratulations."

"She knew the routine from when Dosia had become a siren, and although she blushed and said humble things, she was secretly pleased to have a little piece of the attention Dosia had gotten for so long."

~ Page 13 of Between the Sea and Sky by Jaclyn Dolamore

PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT with either the link to your own Teaser Tuesdays post, or share your ‘teasers’ in a comment here (if you don’t have a blog). Thanks so much for stopping by!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ask a Published Author: Sarah Sundin

It's Monday, and as promised, I am interviewing Sarah Sundin! I've combined your questions with mine to pick an authors brain and hopefully learn a thing or two about writing a great novel, getting an agent, singing a publishing contract, and everything in between. Well, probably not everything. :)

I'll be posting every other day this week and I'll try to keep each day of answers on a similar type of topic.

Sarah Sundin is the author of the Wings of Glory Series, a three book series following the three Novak brothers in their service to their country during WWII. Recently, she signed another three book deal with Revell for a series about flight nurses during WWII.

 Welcome Sarah! Now, lets get started.

When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
January 6, 2000. How’s that for exact? Although I always read voraciously, I didn’t consider a writing career. Instead I chose a practical career in pharmacy which allowed me to work on-call and stay home with our three children. Then in 2000, I had a dream with such intriguing characters that I felt compelled to write their story. That first novel will never be published, nor should it, but it got me started.

I know your journey to becoming an author was a relatively winding one. Can you give us a brief description of what that road looked like for you?
Brief description? Try. Fail. Repeat. A slightly less brief description? My first two bad novels got me started. I began attending a critique group and writers’ conferences and reading books on writing craft. In 2003 I first submitted A Distant Melody at Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference. I received good feedback from authors, editors, and agents—and began accumulating a stack of “good” rejection letters. They liked my writing, my story, and my characters—however, historicals weren’t selling. I often felt discouraged, but the Lord made it obvious that He wanted me to finish the trilogy, so I kept plugging away. Then at Mount Hermon in 2008, everyone wanted historicals. And there I was with my trilogy close to complete. I submitted to Vicki Crumpton at Revell and was offered a three-book contract later that year.

 Wow, your story can remind us that perseverance is key. Speaking of perseverance, how many query letters did you send out before the first call or offer?
About twenty. Most were submissions at writers’ conferences rather than mail or email query letters. In addition, I probably made three times as many pitches at writers’ conferences to editors or agents who weren’t interested.

Thank you so  much for stopping by and giving us a peak into your road to publication! I look forward to our Wednesday discussion: editing! 

What do you think blog-world friends? Did any of her answers inspire you? Surprise you?   

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Ask A Published Author

Hello and happy Friday!

Last month I shared my plans for interviewing a published author here on my blog and asking her questions about writing, finding an agent, becoming published and all that fun stuff we can't seem to get enough of. I also opened the floor for somewhat of an open mic night -blog style. And many of you asked away.

Beginning Monday she will be answering these very interesting questions of ours and will continue to do so throughout the week. If you asked a question, check back next week to read her answer. And if you didn't ask any questions, stop by anyway and see what this three-already-published-books-and-just-signed-a-contract-for-three-more-published-author has to say. For starters she'd probably tell me that last sentence was super fragmented. :)

So, I look forward to seeing you, my blog world friends, next week!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Animal-Type Companions

I feel like checking in and saying hello because it's been SOOOOO long.

Today, I just really want to talk about dogs...

I love dogs. In the past I assumed most writers had some sort of love for animals. And it doesn't even have to be animals, but rather pets. A pet? Anything? But every...single...time..I post something about pets it's like blogger crickets crawl onto my page and play me a sad serenade. And I don't get it. Every writer I know has a beloved pet who lays near them as they write, or chews their desk leg or sprawls across their laptop.

Lets start talking about those creatures of ours! Because they're just so darn cute and obnoxious sometimes with personalities all their own. Don't you think?

Now I completely get that some people are simply not pet people. Two out of my three sisters prefer a pet-free home. I respect that, and if you want to comment on why the fluffy fur balls get your skin crawling, feel free.

But if you do have an animal-type companion, tell me about him/her.

As I've posted, I have a little white fluffy dog who probably detests the laptop because she's a lap dog who must sit beside me rather than on me half the time. And at this very moment *squee* I am watching two other dogs and am in heaven, posting videos and pictures to Facebook continuously. That probably also explains the whole "let talk about pets" thing I've written here.

In fact, as my husband left for work today, he made it a point to look me straight in the face and with his serious eyes, tell me "The big dog is not allowed on the bed. He's an outside dog. He's dirty."

But the big dog is so cute!

It's share time. Tell me about your animal-type companion.