Query + Pages Critiques + Journals!

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Pen Friends ~ Looking for a query critique or your first chapter looked over? Nova McBee, SP host (in charge of Author Interviews & Book Reviews,) is offering her 2nd out of 3 Giveaways in November. Don’t miss out. She does the majority of query critiques at the SP and has become really good at pinpointing just how to make a query successful!

Thanks for all of your support and being part of our writing community!

Check here for details: November Giveaway Part 2!

Signing off,

SP gang!

 

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How to Survive in the Creative Darkness

I feel like the only appropriate way to start this post is with a quote from George Washington in “Hamilton” by Lin-Manuel Miranda:

“Check it–

Can I be real a second?

For just a millisecond?

Let down my guard and tell the people how I feel a second?” 

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It’s one of those seasons for me where everything feels a little darker than usual. There’s a heaviness to the air, in my limbs, and in my soul. Yeah, it’s dramatic, but we’re writers. Drama comes with the territory.

I’m guessing most of you have been in one of these seasons, and if you haven’t, you likely will be at some point in the future. Especially for creatives, the dark seems to follow us around a little more.

So today, when I just don’t know if I can get the words out any other way, I have this bit of encouragement for you–and for myself.  Continue reading

Book Blog Tour & Author Interview: Seize Today by Pintip Dunn

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Chapter by Chapter Blog Tours

SEIZE TODAY blurb

Seventeen-year-old Olivia Dresden is a precognitive. Since different versions of people’s futures flicker before her eyes, she doesn’t have to believe in human decency. She can see the way for everyone to be their best self-if only they would make the right decisions. No one is more conflicted than her mother, and Olivia can only watch as Chairwoman Dresden chooses the dark, destructive course every time. Yet Olivia remains fiercely loyal to the woman her mother could be.

But when the chairwoman captures Ryder Russell, the striking and strong-willed boy from the rebel Underground, Olivia sees a vision of her own imminent death…at Ryder’s hand. Despite her bleak fate, she rescues Ryder and flees with him, drawing her mother’s fury and sparking a romance as doomed as Olivia herself. As the full extent of Chairwoman Dresden’s gruesome plan is revealed, Olivia must find the courage to live in the present-and stop her mother before she destroys the world.

Note: Check out the excerpt below!

INTERVIEW

Pintip croppedSP: Hi Pintip! Congrats on Seize Today coming out into the world! First, for some of our readers who have not met you, can you tell us a bit of your writing journey?

Sure! My road toward publication was long and windy. I started writing my first novel after college, and it would take me fifteen years and 150 rejections before I got published. I signed with my literary agent, Beth Miller, on the third novel I queried, and even then, it took three books on submission and nearly three years before we received our first offer. At that point, however, I sold seven books in approximately seven months, so it pays to move on to that next project, when your first one doesn’t initially sell!

SP: As mentioned, Seize Today is the last book in the Forget Tomorrow Series. How does it feel to wrap up and say goodbye to all these amazing characters in this final book?

Bittersweet! These characters have been with me for so long — six years — that it feels strange to me that I will be saying goodbye to them, and they will continue living the rest of their lives without me!

At the same time, however, I feel incredibly happy. I really think that writing this series is the biggest accomplishment of my life, so far. I am so proud of this body of work. I really am. That’s not something we’re allowed to say very often, but when I look at these characters and this world and these intertwining stories I’ve created, that’s how I feel: proud.

SP: Can you tell us how writing Seize Today was different than the others? What’s unique about Seize Today?

Seize Today was the most difficult book I’ve ever written. Not only did I have to tie up all the loose ends of the series, but my heroine, Olivia, is a precognitive who sees everything! It was quite a challenge to keep the twists and turns surprising to Olivia, from whose POV the story is told, when she should’ve foreseen it!

Another challenge was the number of characters who had to have a strong presence. Book 1 features Callie and Logan, while Book 2 stars Jessa and Tanner. Seize Today focuses on Olivia and Ryder. Even though each book has a new couple, I knew that my readers would be looking for the previous characters they got to know in earlier books. Thus, each book got progressively more difficult. While Book 2 had to include enough mention of Logan and Callie to satisfy my readers, Book 3 had to give page time to Callie, Logan, Jessa, and Tanner, in addition to the main characters of Olivia and Ryder! That’s a whole lot of characters to squeeze into a huge plot with limited pages.

SP: Which character in the series got under your skin the most?Seize Today Cover

Oh no! This question! It’s the hardest is because it’s like asking a parent who her favorite child is. And as I always tell me kids, they’re all my favorite!

But…if I have to be completely honest, I would say that Olivia is the heroine who got under my skin the most. She carries the burden of everyone’s futures, and she still manages to emerge from her circumstances strong and courageous.  Plus, she’s so lonely, so isolated, so uncertain if she is worthy of love. I really enjoyed giving her that family and sense of belonging she wanted more than anything.

As for the hero who got under my skin the most… I would have to say Tanner. Oh gosh, now I feel super guilty saying that, because I love Logan and Ryder, as well…but it’s Tanner! Brilliant, arrogant, and swoony, but with such an awful, broken past. I love his relationship with Jessa, and I love how far he is willing to go to redeem his mistakes. (Now, that statement makes me think about how far Callie would go to save her sister, and that makes me wonder if perhaps she gets under my skin the most! See?! It’s an impossible question!)

SP: Family. Love. Risk. Destiny. These are all themes in your books. Is there one “take away” you wish young readers could identify with throughout this series and run with in their own lives? If so, what is it?

From the first book to the last, this series is about fighting for your future. I hope that my readers take away the idea that no one can tell you who you’re going to be and what you’re capable of — not even your future. I hope they will feel inspired to reach for their potential — and be the strongest, bravest, and most capable version of themselves.

SP: You write adrenaline, heroic, risk-taking plots with intriguing premises. So I must ask, who do you imagine yourself to be when you’re day dreaming? Any superhero you wish you could have lunch with?

Well, the truth is, I don’t actually imagine myself to be anybody (other than me!) when I’m daydreaming. What’s the point of having all those wonderful fantasies happening to someone else?!!

But to answer the spirit of your question, I’ve been a little obsessed with Wonder Woman ever since the movie came out, so can I be her? I’m not nearly as kick ass as her, but this is a daydream, right? As for lunch, can I go to their island and take a tour of their facilities and meet all those amazing women?

SP: Now a bit of personal–favorite movie of all time? Favorite book of all time?

Favorite movie of all time is Life is Beautiful. My husband would dispute this answer because he says I never re-watch it — which I don’t because it makes me sad. But a movie can be your favorite even if you don’t like to rewatch it, right?!!

Oh gosh, my favorite book, my ONE favorite book? That’s really hard to answer. I’m going with Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen. The first time I read this book, I didn’t like it. The second time I read it, I thought it was enjoyable. By the third time I read this story, I was madly in love. I’ve reread this book at least a dozen times, and it gets better upon each read!

SP: We wish you all the best with Seize the Day! Readers– Check out her other books below!!! There is also a blurb if you scroll down! Enjoy picking up this series!!!

Thank you so much! It is truly appreciated!

 

EXCERPT FROM SEIZE TODAY

Eleven years earlier…

I pull the lever of the cage, switching the tunnel onto a different track, trying to confuse the mice.

I know exactly how the future will play out, of course. I know which mice will fall down the trap and which ones will smack into the see-through glass wall. I know which mice will get hopelessly lost. I even know which ones will run the maze correctly on the very first try.

I like watching them anyway. They wriggle over one another like worms, and their whiskers twitch when they’re at a corner between two paths. But what I like most is how they come to me when I call.

Picking up a mouse, I run my fingers over its soft fur and warm body. It looks at me with unblinking pink eyes, and I think it could be my friend.

Of course, I can see which mice will come, so I know which ones to call. Rodents are predictable like that. Humans, not so much. They have too many wants, too many feelings. I don’t see any one future for people. Rather, I see them all—every single pathway their futures might take, flickering before my eyes.

So I have to guess which of my human classmates will want to play with me. Most of the time, I guess wrong.

“Are you bothering my mice again?” a little boy’s voice says. “Fates, Livvy. How many times do I have to tell you? Leave them alone!”

Startled, I let go of the mouse and look up at Tanner Callahan, the other six-year-old who hangs around the scientists’ labs. I’m here because my mom’s the head of the Future Memory Agency, or FuMA, and he’s here…I guess ’cause he has nowhere else to be.

He’s got black hair that pokes up in the back, and his skin sticks too closely to his bones. I thought this meant he wasn’t eating enough, but MK, our child-minder, said that grief over his parents’ deaths had burrowed holes through his resources.

This makes me think of the mice digging through the straw, and my chest aches. I flash forward to his futures. He still has hundreds of branches remaining, but in most of them, one thing is the same: he will be sad and lonely until he kisses our classmate Jessa ten years in the future.

I don’t know why kissing should change anything. But I do know how it feels to be lonely and sad.

We don’t have to be like this. I could be his friend. I just have to figure out the right thing to say.

“Jessa and I are going to rule the world one day.” It can’t hurt to bring up the girl he smushes lips with. Maybe if he thinks she and I are friends, he’ll like me, too. “You know Jessa, right? The girl with the teardrop eyes? She’s my best friend.” Not true. I think Jessa only talks to me because she’s nice. But he doesn’t have to know that.

“Oh yeah? Well someday, I’m going to be the inventor of future memory,” he shoots back. “And then we’ll see who’s more important.”

I bite my lip. That wasn’t what I meant. I wasn’t trying to brag or compare or compete. The futures containing our friendship begin to fall away, one by one. I guessed wrong once again.

END

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Nova signing off!

Feature Friday: Alexa Donne of Author Mentor Match

Pen friends, if you’ve spent much time around here, you know how much we love the writing community! One of our favorite ways of learning and growing within that community is by participating in contests and mentoring opportunities, and today we are thrilled to chat with one of the founders of Author Mentor Match, the lovely YA author Alexa Donne!

*The current round of submissions for AMM is open now through October 24th, so if you’ve been looking for a mentor, now is the perfect chance to apply!

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SP: Welcome, Alexa! We’re so excited to have you join us. Can you please tell us a little about who you are and what you write?

Hi! Thank you so much for having me! I am Alexa Donne, a YA science fiction & fantasy writer whose debut novel, BRIGHTLY BURNING, will be coming out from HMH Teen on May 1, 2018. It’s a retelling of Jane Eyre, set in space.  Continue reading

Author Interview: Tracey Neithercott

Pen Friends ~ We are delighted to have Tracey Neithercott, debut author of Gray Wolf Island and an Author Mentor Match mentor, here with us today!

Tracey Neithercott FullSP: Hi Tracey! Thanks for joining us. First, will you please tell us a bit of who are you and how long have you have been writing? 

Hi! Thank you so much for having me.

I’m a magazine journalist and the author of the YA novel Gray Wolf Island. I’ve always written in some way or another: There was my sixth grade The Princess and the Mean Genie, which really made me aware of my inability to draw but had me feeling pretty proud of my talent for coloring within the lines.

In high school, I started (but never finished) a bunch of books in the voice of whatever I’d last read. I somehow ended up sounding like both Pip from Great Expectations and Holden Caulfield from Catcher in the Rye. This was not a good thing.

As I began thinking about college, I shifted my focus. It’s weird looking back at how my brain worked back then, but I was convinced authors were these super-special people who were, I don’t know, given their super-special talents from the heavens or something. I figured journalism was a more realistic career. And in a way, I was right: I did become a journalist.

Only after I began reading YA writer blogs—watching them go from unagented writers to agented writers to published authors—did I start to believe writing a novel was something I could actually do. And in 2010, I finished a novel for the first time. Continue reading

Summer Reading Challenge Wrap-up and Giveaway!

SPRC Wrap-up

Can you feel it?

Summer is drifting away before our eyes here in the Northern Hemisphere. And it’s been quite the season! Here at the Spinning Pen, we’ve been traveling the globe, indulging in iced coffee, soaking up the sun, writing stories, and of course, READING ALL THE BOOKS!

If you’ve been hanging out with us for long, you’ll remember that we launched the first SP Summer Reading Challenge, and now that it’s September, it’s time to wrap it up.

So many books, so little time…

We’re dying to know: what books did you read this summer? Did you find a new favorite? If you checked out any of our recommendations, we’d love to hear from you. And if you discovered a gem somewhere along the line, we want to know that, too! We are all about sharing stories with friends.

(Don’t worry, I didn’t forget about the prize!)

And a GIVEAWAY!

If you read at least two books this summer (between June 1 and today, September 11), you are eligible to enter our giveaway for MORE BOOKS! That’s right, the winner will receive a $15 USD gift card for Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or my personal indie favorite Powell’s Books (can be used online if you’re not in the Portland, Oregon area). Never fear, international friends! You can enter, too! And if you win, I’ll send you a book of your choice (valued up to $15 USD) through Book Depository, provided that they ship to your country of residence.

Just use the Rafflecopter link below to enter. You’ll get 2 bonus entries if you read a book from our list of recommendations. (Open until 9/17/17.)

 

EDIT: We have our winner! Congratulations, Dawn S.! Thanks to everyone for participating. We’ll be back soon with more opportunities to read awesome books and win prizes.

Enter the Giveaway HERE!

 

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Dana, signing off to enjoy one last iced coffee and a good book!

 

 

Original Photo Credit: Jessica Ruscello

How To Win At Writing After A Conference

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The writer’s conference: There’s little more exciting than the thought of surrounding yourself with a hundred or more people who love words and books as much as you do, and getting to spend anywhere from an afternoon to an entire week learning about the business and how to become better at your craft.

For me, anyway, there’s little more exciting than a good conference. What’s never so good is the re-entry afterward. The introverted side of my personality starts kicking back in, my brain is happy but also exhausted from all of the information I’ve squished into it, and I usually just want to sleep for a few days.

From what I’ve heard from many other writers, this isn’t uncommon. And while it’s enticing to curl up in a cave and hide, the time right after a conference is golden, and we should do what we can to use it well. So here are my best tips for re-entry. Continue reading