Lucky 7 & An Unlucky Fairy Godmother

One of my very favorite indie authors, Kait Nolan, tagged me for the Lucky 7 challenge. The rules?

Go to page 7 or 77 in your current WIP.

  • Go to line 7
  • Post on your blog the next 7 sentence or 7 lines — as they are!
  • Tag 7 people and do the same

A Little Fairy Dust coverSo here’s my entry from page 7 of A Little Fairy Dust, the next short story coming out (hopefully) in August! Faye is a fairy godmother in training, Jet is her ex, and she gets caught working a little magic.

“What is it, Faye?”

“Why should I tell you?” I dropped my caught-off-guard tone and moved to my he’s-still-a-liar tone. He’d hid plenty from me, so whatever I was up to was none of his business.

“Because you might be doing something else to sabotage the team.”

“Something else? What did I do before?”

Jet tilted his head and held up his casted hand, like it was a smoking gun.

“I didn’t do that,” I answered. “You punched the wall.”

[Now imagine a serious, booming voice.] “Why did Jet punch the wall? Why is he blaming Faye? Is Faye sabotaging the football team? Why is this guy named after a plane?

“Find out when you read A Little Fairy Dust — coming soon!” 🙂

ROW80 Goals

It’s time again to announce my goals for the next round of A Round of Words in 80 Days, the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Last round, I set only five goals and did reasonably well reaching them. I’m going to keep it streamlined once again.

1. Finish editing Sharing Hunter, young adult contemporary novel. I’m already making better progress on this, by the way.

2. Edit, polish, and release two more short stories in my Paranormal Playground series. Release dates will probably be mid-August and late September.

3. Read 12 books. This remains a good number for me, and my reading will include both fiction and nonfiction.

4. Attend RWA Conference and Day of YA in San Antonio and follow-up as needed. The conference is July 23-26.

That’s it! A few specific goals that are do-able, yet stretch me all the same.

I am forgoing sponsor duty this time around, since summers are kind of crazy for me, but I’m glad to stay involved. ROW80 has been a boost to my work productivity and a great chance to support other authors. If you’re a writer looking for some inspiration, motivation, and/or accountability, check it out here.

How’s your writing or your week gone? What goals have you set for yourself? And, just for fun, who’s your favorite fairy in fiction?

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My Name is Julie, and I’m a Binge-TV Addict

Binge-watch is in the dictionary now. Check out the Dictionary.com definition (based on Random House):

binge-watch definition

I still remember the days before Netflix and Hulu, before DVD players, before VCRs . . . the long-past days when you had to plant yourself before the TV right as your favorite show aired or you flat-out missed it. There was no catching up online, recording the show for later, or view on demand anywhere. You were either there at Monday 8:00 p.m., or the show went ahead without you.

Thank goodness that’s changed.

But I’ve gone farther lately than catching up on a show here and there I missed. Instead, I catch up on the whole TV series I missed. My name is Julie, and I’m a binge-TV addict.

White Collar Logo
My current binge-watch show

Here are some reasons why:

I’m extremely impatient. (Really! Just ask my husband.) Don’t you hate that cliffhanger at the end of a season, and then you have to wait months and months to see that plot line resolved? Wait no longer! If you’re impatient like me, you just watch the whole series as you want. Too eager to wait for the season 3? Simply cue it up at the end of season 2. Binge-watching was made with the impatient in mind.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Logo
Didn’t catch it? Binge-watch it!

I can get cool really quick. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, I missed quite a few good shows. I was a little busy parenting young children and thus watching series like Blue’s Clues, Maisy, and Bear in the Big Blue House. So when people talked about how cool Buffy the Vampire Slayer was, I had no idea what they were talking about. I vaguely recalled seeing a commercial with a blond chick and fanged people, right before I turned to the channel back to Disney. Now with binge-watching, I’m back at the cool table. Yep, binge-watching got me caught up on shows like ScrubsCharmedBuffy, Arrested Development, and Leverage.

I feel a little queen-like when the series is at my beck-and-call. When other little girls were oohing and aahing over Barbie and her fashion accessories, I was enamored with a Miss America doll we owned — because she had a crown and scepter and was clearly in charge of something. I’ve been knocked down enough in life by now that I’ve learned a sufficient amount of humility; however, that desire to rule can peek through at times and get sated just enough by binge-watching a whole series. As if I’m Queen of the TV World, I simply summon the next show when I’m ready — like royalty would summon their entertainment in the form of a minstrel or court jester.

I more easily grasp the big picture. When you watch a series in a compressed period of time, you get a better sense of the series as a whole. Which means you can spot references to previous plot lines, recurring characters, the broader character arc, and — yes, indeed — mistakes and contradictions with previous shows in the series. I can see the big picture because there isn’t so much time between the first episode and the middle episode and the finale.

Jericho TV series logo
Just one of my many casualties. Sorry!

If I watch shows as they air, I kill them. I’m convinced that merely by my watching a show, its chances of survival decrease by 63%. Don’t try to tell me otherwise. It’s simply safer for me to wait until the show has had its full run — whether that’s one season or eight — and then watch the whole series. That way, my choice to partake in a series doesn’t impact its renewal outcome.

Now if only I could binge-write and binge-edit . . . successfully. Instead, here’s my step-by-step progress in A Round of Words in 80 Days, the writing challenge that knows you have a life.

1. Read 12 books. I’m in the middle of three different books right now! I’m reading Sketchy Behavior by Erynn Mangum.; Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight Swain; and while sitting in an ER lobby without nothing to do while I waited, I downloaded The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and started reading. I didn’t finish any of these this week, however. So I’m still at 10 of 12 completed.

2. Finish editing SHARING HUNTER, a young adult contemporary novel. Didn’t happen.

3. Edit one short story to publication quality. I received comments back from one teenage beta reader on the next short and agreed with her summary. When I receive the other beta reader’s comments, I’ll finish editing and polishing that story.

In the meantime, I did work on some editing for a third story. Some progress.

4. Publish and promote two short storiesMy Sister’s Demon is available on Amazon. I’ve been troubleshooting some issues with the Barnes & Noble account and think I have it worked out finally to upload the story there this week. Half done!

5. Stay on top of ROW80 sponsor duties. I did not get to check in this week, since my internet time was very limited.

Why was your internet time limited, and why were you sitting in an ER this past week? you ask. Well, I was at church camp with no WiFi and on the last day a kid got a concussion, but he’s fine now. Thanks for asking! 🙂

Do you binge-watch any TV series? Why or why not? And how was your week?

Baton Blog Hop: My Writing

The marvelous Kait Nolan tagged me for the baton blog hop. So I’m answering the questions and tagging three others at the end of the post.* 

Julie sitting at laptop
Writing at my local coffee shop

What am I working on? Two major projects right now. The first is my series of six young adult paranormal short stories, which begins with the first story, My Sister’s Demon. I’m editing, polishing, formatting, and loading them up one at a time. This self-published series is titled Paranormal Playground. (See the first cover here.)

Then I’m editing again through Sharing Hunter, my young adult contemporary novel — which has been a labor of love and madness, depending on which day you ask me. Actually, I adore these characters and their story, so I’ve taken extra time and effort to get it right. I’m planning to pursue traditional publishing with this novel.

How does my work differ from others of its genre? If you’ve visited my blog for a while, you might have noticed a new tag line up there: A handful of real life, a heartful of story. Writing YA paranormal and contemporary, my tag line is true for both of these. I hope to capture a slice of real life, something we can all relate to, but then tell a story that brings your heart into the equation. That “heartful” could be the tender feelings of romance, the intense desire to solve a mystery, the pounding nerves of fear, etc. But I hope having my characters deal with whatever they face — be it a crush on the boy next door or the need to exorcise a demon — can encourage the reader to take life on and come out a winner.

As for the uniqueness of my writing, I’m a snarky girl. And it comes across on the page. So I hope to bring some wit to the stories as well.

Why do I write what I do? I actually answered this question recently in a post I did for the A Round of Words in 80 Days blog:

I think part of what keeps me wanting to write YA and MG is when I ask myself, “If I could write for one and only one niche group, who would it be?” And it’s young girls struggling with who they are in those formative ages. That’s when I fell in love with stories, when books sent me to worlds I didn’t know and got me out of the frustrating one I was in, when fiction sometimes seemed far more real than the stupid drama of junior high and high school. It’s when I realized that books could be friends.

How does my writing process work? I call myself a “plantser” (I think I got that word from author Roni Loren). For me, what tends to happen is I write a first chapter by the seat of my pants based on some scene, premise, character, etc. If I can tell there’s something to this, I step back and develop the idea further.

I write a plot outline, which at this point includes things like the opening, inciting incident, plot points, setbacks, climax, wrap-it-up. I don’t get much more detailed than that before I start writing. My story often changes as I write, and that’s fine. I can easily adjust a plot outline, but when I try to plot individual scenes in advance, my brain tends to get overwhelmed and my writing gets stymied.

One part of the “writing process” that’s often ignored is editing! I’ve written about editing tips I’ve learned, and Margie Lawson’s Deep Edits program has also really helped. Quality writers have to be willing to dig into their WIPs again and again to get them to the level they can and should be for readers to fully enjoy the story. I continue to learn how to best do that, but I love seeing the story take shape.

Tag, you’re it.

Since I know they have upcoming releases, I’m tagging Melinda VanLone, Catie Rhodes, and S.J. Maylee for this blog hop. If they wish to participate, they can answer these questions on their own blogs and tag 3 more writers to pass the baton.

ROW80 Update

1. Read 12 books. Read Stupid Cupid short story by Tina Ferraro, but I’m not counting that. I also read a nonfiction book and started North of Beautiful by Justina Chen. Halfway through — 6 of 12 books read.

2. Finish editing SHARING HUNTER, a young adult contemporary novel. I edited a little bit, which was something. But now that my short stories are in a good place, I am moving this goal to the forefront. A little forward progress — like a Mother May I baby step.

3. Edit one short story to publication quality. I finished the rewrite of one short story, and I’m happy with the result. This was the last story in the Paranormal Playground series that needed to be completed, and it will be released this fall. Meanwhile, I read through the next release of the series, A Little Fairy Dust, and made editing notes. I need to rewrite sections of the first chapter, but the rest of the story seems solid. Once I get that first chapter in place, I’ll send it to my beta reader. Happy with this progress.

4. Publish and promote two short stories. I finished the Scrivener Compile course offered by Gwen Hernandez, compiled and uploaded the first story — My Sister’s Demon — to Amazon and Barnes & Noble. It should go up this week. *fingers crossed* Halfway there!

5. Stay on top of ROW80 sponsor duties. Visited 8 blogs this week. Done!

So what projects — writing or otherwise — are you working on? And how was your week?

*For future reference, I’m hit or miss with these things, so if the chain letter means a lot to you, I’m probably not the best person to tag! :S)

My Words: Exorcising My Sister

Welcome to Amazing Words Wednesday, the day we enter the labyrinth of language and see what we can discover. The first Wednesday of each month, I share some of my own words (you know, being a writer and all 😉 ).

This fall, I took an online short story course from the young adult chapter of RWA (Romance Writers of America). During this class and beyond, I wrote, edited, and polished a teen paranormal tale titled Exorcising My Sister. I plan to compile several paranormal shorts and self-publish the stories in 2014.

Today, I’m sharing a teaser (chapter one) from this 9,300-word short story.

Chapter 1: Today’s the Day

I burrow under my fleece purple blanket, not yet ready to face this day. Wednesday the 16th — the only calendar day not marked for my parents and Nickie to visit a physician, psychiatrist, principal, juvie court judge, or some other authority.

All futile attempts to knock my big sister back from raging lunacy to her normal — still annoying — self, the self she was four months ago, before this hell started.

“Okay, okay . . .” I mumble to the alarm clock, the repeated buzz feeling like fists punching my ears. My feet slide through the warm sheets to the cool tile, and my hands rub my eyes to coax them open. A shove to my back tells me Biggun, our oversized tabby cat, is also awake.

He crawls onto my lap and bats at my hands with his nose. I scratch his ears, and Biggun purrs. Since my sister freaked, his affection demands are all on me. He won’t get within ten feet of Nickie.

Apparently, the cat and I are the only ones wise to Nickie’s real problem. It’s not an emotional breakdown, a delinquent phase, or some deep-seated cry for help.

My big sister Nickie is possessed.

Literally.

With a demon.

I give Biggun a few more pats, then walk to the mirror and stare at my disheveled self. Prickles electrify my scalp and travel down my arms and legs. “Courtney Pater, this is it.”

My voice sounds hard and determined, like a drill sergeant inspiring troops, and my body stiffens. I may be fifteen years old, a nerdy misfit at school, and 110 pounds holding a watermelon, but I’m my family’s only hope.

While my parents explore logical explanations for Nickie’s deviant behavior, I’m doing the truly reasonable thing — the only thing to prevent her from eventually ripping our family to shreds. And with the mischief, violence, and criminal record growing daily, we’re out of time.

“Yep,” I say, “today’s the day to exorcise your sister.”

Ψ Ψ Ψ

Here’s the blurb for the story:

Girl illustratedSome teens think their older sibling is possessed. Courtney’s sister actually is. No one else gets the real reason for Nickie’s recent personality change, so it’s up to 15-year-old Courtney to save her big sister and exorcise the demon.

What paranormal creatures or subjects do you like to read about? What short story authors do you enjoy? And have you ever exorcised a demon — like from a family member?