Find your VOICE by writing these three exercises: Continue reading
Find your VOICE by writing these three exercises: Continue reading
Finish this sentence in the comments below:
Here are a few that were sent in already…
I hadn’t expected it to be snowing when my wife Gina put her swim suit on and said, “C’mon.. lets go”. It was an ‘ugly christmas’ suit like the sweaters but built for the water. We were actually going to do it. I put my matching trunks on, grabbed my beach towel and followed her down to the lake. “This can’t be good for humans I murmured.” Nobody seemed to hear me. The other three couples seemed apprehensive, Gina stood determined and unswayed by the 30 degree weather and the ice around the edges of the lake.
I hadn’t expected it to be snowing when I stepped off the plane at Miami International. Fat flakes drifting in blinding sheets. It’s a wonder we landed. This was supposed to be my escape…uneventful. I flicked a reluctant glance at the thick gray sky, then dropped it to my phone. Twelve missed calls. A shoulder rammed my own, followed by a mumbled sorry. The guy staggered on a few steps before stopping. He was staring at the sky too. Everyone was.
I hadn’t expected it to be snowing when I arrived. I didn’t know how to feel about it, seeing snow for the first time. It was cold, really cold. My fingers hurt and my ears and nose had gone numb… But there was something about all those bits of bright white transforming what once was a great expense of greenery into building sheets of frozen water. I tried to catch a few snowflakes, but they melted the instant that they touched my skin. It was really uncomfortable how beautiful and uncomfortable it was all at once. At least then I had an interesting story to take back home. But I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to return home, thought that maybe I should stay.
I didn’t know…
I hadn’t expected it to be snowing when our submarine emerged from the depths of the Arctic Ocean…
I hadn’t expected it to be snowing when it was finally time to escape from Dexter Wellington, otherwise known as most despicable human ever at East High. Of course he asked me to stay just one more minute. Snow, ironically, was the reason we’d met in the first place and unintentionally discovered each other’s secrets.
I’m so pumped to announce that The Spinning Pen & Nova McBee are now selling original, custom-made “Spinning Pen” gift cards!
Our first sale begins today! Discounts from 28th-30th!
Check them out via our new Shop page!
“Spinning Pen Girl in Asia”
Nova, signing off
Pen Friends~ I’m super excited to introduce you to a new book (and the author with an interview soon!) Blood Heir, written by YA Author Amelie Wen Zhao comes out today which means you can now buy it and read it and love it!
In the Cyrilian Empire, Affinites are reviled. Their varied gifts to control the world around them are unnatural—dangerous. And Anastacya Mikhailov, the crown princess, has a terrifying secret. Her deadly Affinity to blood is her curse and the reason she has lived her life hidden behind palace walls.
When Ana’s father, the emperor, is murdered, her world is shattered. Framed as his killer, Ana must flee the palace to save her life. And to clear her name, she must find her father’s murderer on her own. But the Cyrilia beyond the palace walls is far different from the one she thought she knew. Corruption rules the land, and a greater conspiracy is at work—one that threatens the very balance of her world. And there is only one person corrupt enough to help Ana get to its core: Ramson Quicktongue.
A cunning crime lord of the Cyrilian underworld, Ramson has sinister plans—though he might have met his match in Ana. Because in this story, the princess might be the most dangerous player of all.
For those of you who don’t keep up on YA, it’s also a kind of miracle that we get to read Blood Heir, because we almost didn’t get that chance. Amelie & this book went on a crazy journey to get where it is today. Imagine this: from seeing your dream realized to dream book deals at auction to twitter mobs slamming you and pulling your book from publishing…but that wasn’t the end of the story. She did NOT GIVE UP. And, tomorrow is proof of her courage and integrity.
Amelie recently spoke on NPR about this journey. Check out her interview here:
Below, I’m also including her bio (she’s a total global girl!) and a quote from Amelie’s insta post. Readers, this book is going to be so good. Grab a copy and support 🙂
Bio from her website:
Amélie (yes, like the movie!) has adored putting pen to paper since she was in kindergarten. Born in Paris and raised in a multicultural community in Beijing, Amélie has a bone-deep love for traveling and immersing herself in new worlds and cultures. She lives in New York City, working as a full-time financial professional by day, and writer at night.
She hopes to empower young readers with messages of acceptance, strength, and courage through her works, and to continue to push the boundaries of young adult literature by exploring new, cross-cultural themes.
Quote from her Instagram:
“Among the many topics I set out to explore when I wrote BLOOD HEIR were the historic instances of indentured labor and the modern-day crisis of human trafficking. These continue to exist and impact millions of victims today. My fiancé is himself a descendant of a Chinese indentured laborer.
Literature should confront difficult truths and authors must be allowed to make their statements. I’m glad my perspective will shed light on these global issues, and that readers will have the chance to read my book, form their own opinions, and hopefully learn about new topics from my perspective as a Chinese woman living in the United States.”
Nova, signing off.
Explaining NaNoWriMo and showing you how to succeed.
NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month — an event where writers all over the world attempt to do what professionals generally take months, years, and even decades to accomplish: write a novel.
The official goal is to write 50,000 words in November. 1,667 words a day, 30 days in a row.
If you ask me, it’s borderline foolish. Especially if you don’t prepare.
But it can be worth it.
NaNo can significantly boost productivity if done correctly. Here’s a simple flow chart to help you decide if this event is right for you.
If you have even 30 minutes a day, I’d recommend joining the party. Lower your goal to something more reasonable for your current circumstances and stick to it! You’d be amazed at what 30 minutes of writing for 30 days in a row can yield.
Succeeding in NaNoWriMo requires simple prep-work, a system for making time to write, and a whole lot of perseverance.
If you’re a Plotter, you likely have your own system for planning a novel. Make sure it’s completed before November 1. Pansters, here’s what I recommend for prep:
Find a character that intrigues you and drop them into a premise that excites you.
I also recommend daydreaming throughout the day and thinking of possible routes you want to take with the story. Just having that rough skeleton will help when you sit down to knock out those first 1,667 words at the start of this coming month. Continue reading
Pen Friends ~ I am so excited for you! In this interview you get to meet the lovely, writer mom, Pitch Wars Alum, YA Author Jessica Olson and hear about her incredible her debut, Sing Me Forgotten, out with Inkyard/Harper Collins in 2021. As you know, we are huge fans of championing author’s debut work, so click here to add it on Goodreads and enjoy all of the amazing gems she has shared in this interview!
SP: Hi Jessica! Thanks for joining us! Before we get into book stuff, we’d LOVE to know a bit about you and your writing journey?
JO: I’ve been writing books since kindergarten, and I’m pretty sure my parents still have stacks of the books I wrote and illustrated as a kid moldering up in their attic. Compelling stories about little girls that got castles for Christmas and went on picnics and ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. When I fell in love with Harry Potter as a young teen was when I moved on from writing (terrible) picture books to writing (even worse) novels. I was constantly scribbling stories in notebooks instead of paying attention in class during middle school and high school, much to my teachers’ frustration.
I started pursuing publication in college with a YA contemporary issue novel that I thought was the best thing ever written but was actually a pile of stinking garbage. I obviously was not able to get an agent with that manuscript, but I did not give up. I queried twice more over the next few years with two other manuscripts, slowly getting more and more interest in my stories—which showed I was improving—but no bites quite yet.
It wasn’t until I submitted Sing Me Forgotten to PitchWars in 2018 and was chosen as a mentee that things kind of took off. I received several requests from the PitchWars showcase, and I had my first offer of representation within 48 hours. After multiple offers, I chose to sign with Christa Heschke of McIntosh & Otis, and we went on submission shortly thereafter.
SMF went on to receive multiple offers from publishers, so Christa conducted an auction, which was a surreal and insane experience. I didn’t sleep or eat basically that whole week! Though all of the editors who made offers were wonderful, and they all seemed to be so excited for SMF, we decided to go with Lauren at Inkyard because she felt like the best fit for the book and shared the same vision I had for what the story could be.
Today we have Jenni Claar, a social media manager, sharing a very basic, go-to, take on Social Media–the pros and functions on how to use the major ones like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. Take a look!
GATHER YOUR COMMUNITY, use:
It is useful for:
Business/Author Page (affected by algorithms – will only reach roughly 10% of your audience without paying for more…don’t waste your money!)
Post daily (mornings and evenings have the highest audience traffic)
Comments, likes, and shares increase audience.
1/3 Audience Engagement Posts, 1/3 Self-Promotion/Product Promotion, 1/3 Audience Care
*Images carry more weight in Facebook algorithms than links – share links in comments
Other ideas for Facebook-
*Facebook Groups Street Teams
*Book Clubs Personal Blogs/Newsletter
2. If you want to….
FIND YOUR READERS use:
Instagram – #bookstagram
YouTube – BookTube
3. If you want to….
NETWORK, FIND YOUR PEERS, MENTORS, AND ROLE MODELS use:
Lots of community happens here, be kind, active, and engage. Twitter circles grow quickly.
Pen Friends ~ Our author interview today is with Jennieke Cohen, (who I met through the 2016 PitchWars gang.) Not only does she share about her debut, Dangerous Alliance, (which you can pre-order!) but about perseverance, Jane Austen, favorite books, fictional crushes, publishing, and more. Enjoy.
SP: Hi Jennieke! Thanks for joining us! Before we get into book stuff, we’d LOVE to know a bit about you and how long have you have been writing?
JC: Thanks so much for having me! Even as a child, I liked telling stories and acting them out, and by high school, I thought I wanted to work in the film industry. I wrote my first screenplay—a dark, suspense story about a serial killer—in high school and even made it into a movie for one of my classes. After college, I started my first novel, which would later become Dangerous Alliance. Having ruled out working in the film business, I decided to intern with a literary agent (I later got promoted to her assistant), and then at Prima Games (then an imprint of Random House) while I pursued a master’s degree in professional writing from the University of Southern California. Nowadays, in my spare time, you’ll find me re-watching and over-analyzing old movies (a hard habit to break!), singing opera arias and show tunes, or discovering new foodie spots with my husband.
SP: Your debut, Dangerous Alliance, will come out December 3rd, 2019.
Here is the blurb:
Lady Victoria Aston has everything she could want: an older sister happily wed, the future of her family estate secure, and ample opportunity to while her time away in the fields around her home. But now Vicky must marry—or find herself and her family destitute. Armed only with the wisdom she has gained from her beloved novels by Jane Austen, she enters society’s treacherous season.
Sadly, Miss Austen has little to say about Vicky’s exact circumstances: whether the roguish Mr. Carmichael is indeed a scoundrel, if her former best friend, Tom Sherborne, is out for her dowry or for her heart, or even how to fend off the attentions of the foppish Mr. Silby, he of the unfortunate fashion sensibility. Most unfortunately of all, Vicky’s books are silent on the topic of the mysterious accidents cropping up around her…ones that could prevent her from surviving until her wedding day.
SP: Can you tell us a bit more about how this idea came about?
JC: This may sound somewhat cliché, but when I was twelve, I read Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre and they had a much bigger impact on me than I could have guessed. I was expecting them to be dry and boring because they were “classics,” but the witty intelligence Jane Austen brought to her novels spoke to me in a way not many of the other books I’d read had. And I simply loved the romance and mystery elements of Jane Eyre. I found myself looking for all the historical novels I could find. That led to reading a lot of adult fiction and nonfiction because, at the time, there were very few European-set historical novels written specifically for teens and young adults. With Dangerous Alliance, I wanted to create the kind of novel I would have really enjoyed reading as a teen. Continue reading
As we know, a good first line of a book (and chapter) can do much more than just begin the story. It grabs our attention, sets the tone, reveals something to come, lets us taste the narrative & voice, gives the first impression, and can be locked into our memory for years to come IF it is done well.
Look at the 7 approaches below and study them. (FYI: Thanks to Lorie Langdon for sharing these with us!)
I’ve also added links to some of the most popular first lines in YA Literature. Compare, enjoy, and then mentally put them into their correct categories. Then look at your own first lines. Where does it fit? Practice rewriting your first sentence. And if you are so bold, share it in the comments!
– Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”
– Paper Towns by John Green: “The way I figure it, everyone gets a miracle.”
– Isak Dinesen’s Out of Africa: “I had a farm in Africa.”
– Stardust by Neil Gaiman: “There once was a young man who wished to gain his Heart’s Desire.”
– Stephen King’s 11/22/63: “I have never been what you’d call a crying man.”
– The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway: “He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish..”
– Lorie’s current WIP:“A brisk gale whipped the sea into peaks that pitched the Skylark around like a leaf in a flooded stream.”
– The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner: “Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting.”
– Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo:“Joost had two problems: the moon and his mustache.”
– A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”
– Heather Webb’s Becoming Josephine: “The missive arrived in the night.”
-A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas:“The forest had become a labyrinth of snow and ice.”
-Maria V. Snyer’s Poison Study: “Locked in darkness that surrounded me like a coffin, I had nothing to distract me from my memories.”
Nova, signing off!