Tuesday, January 29, 2013

What the...?

I do not always write well. Oh yeah, shocking.

Actually, when I write a first draft of something, it tends to be stuffed with superfluous words like "very" or "particularly." I basically just vomit whatever is in my head onto the screen in front of me, and then go back later to clean up the mess. In fact, I am fairly certain that you can generally understand what I might possibly talking about. :D

 Sometimes, my mother sends me segments of a book she's working on (I try not to get attached since she often ends up moving on to something else equally awesome), and I just stare at the screen incredulously like, "This is your first draft? Seriously?" And I know what you are thinking. Oh please, self-depricating writer, we all think our work is complete garbage sometimes. And that's true. Writers might exit the gate with gusto and self-confidence, but if you do it long enough, you start to feel like you should have trained for the race a little harder.

So here's what I've realized as a writer and aspiring famous author who sits on a couch opposite of Ellen Degeneres: It is okay to write crap.

Not everything has to be inspired. Not everything you put into your story, book, novella, or whatever has to be accompanied by the trumpets of angels. If you write something pretty terrible, and you can feel yourself getting discouraged by it, move past it. Just keep going. Don't let your temporary lack of writing prowess stop you from soldiering on to the next part, where you might really create your masterpiece prose.

Now, that's not to say that you should publish or even share crap. You shouldn't. Keep your crap to yourself. Like my mother says, you have to have a decent "crap-o-meter" in order to be a writer; without it, you won't have the filter necessary to publish a polished work. But it's okay to write something not-so-great, and then come back to it later when you've had a decent separation from the troublesome thing.

I wish I was brave enough to share some of my bad work with you, but I've got my pride. But I feel you, my fellow tortured artists. And when I learned--because it did take practice--to push past my dry spells, writer's block, and cruddy writing days, I got a novel done. Not only that, but it was something I was proud of. It took a good bit of editing to get it refined enough for publishers, but the first step was getting it all on the paper. 

It's okay if you write something, only to go, "What the...?"

Keep writing!

P.S. I seriously do fantasize about being on Ellen's show. Come on, you know you do, too.

What do you think? Do you write past your tough spots?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Review of The Catalyst by Chris Reher

Click on the picture to purchase from Amazon!

My overall review-- 4 stars out of 5 * * * *
Cleanliness scale-- 3 stars out of 5 * * *

Disclaimer: I took a bunch of notes on this book using my laptop, but because my 2-year-old did a WWF move on my laptop, I'm not able to access them. I will do my best with ye old brain and my questionable memory.

I started this book while I was waiting for a treadmill to open up at the gym. I was with my husband, and after the first couple of pages, I turned to him and said, "I'm officially impressed. This is well-written!" There was a part in the beginning where the main character, Nova, had to communicate silently with a fellow soldier, and the description of their wordless conversation was unique.

I like Nova, the main character, as well as Seth, her love interest and kind of co-main character. They had fun personalities, and Nova was relatable. As far as writing goes, this is more like a 4.5 star book, but there were a few issues I had with it that took a star away. The main one was a general feeling of confusion through some of the plot points and descriptions. I had to go back and read things over several times, and even then I was left kind of scratching my head. I would have loved to see some more detailed descriptions of all these space bases, alien worlds, and interesting characters. There were quite a few moments where Reher gave a dead on, stellar description of something, and then others were she kind of glossed over it. I'm all for letting the reader use their imagination to fill in the gaps, but there were so many gaps that I couldn't envision most of their locations.

I also had a hard time keeping up with the terminology. Maybe that's just me, though. I can't remember the last time I even read a Sci-Fi novel, so perhaps it's just that I am unaccustomed to the usual terms used, but there were some words Reher used that left me disoriented. I'm sure if I read the book again, I would pick up on some things I missed, but as a once-read-through, I feel like I was uninformed about much of this universe and story.

On the plus side, I'm a huge fan of the T.V. show "Firefly," and I'm willing to bet that Ms. Reher is, too. It had that feel about it. It was gritty and realistic, and some of the worlds they visited were almost old fashioned feeling...except that they have laser guns you can set to stun, and blue-haired, Spock-like creatures who can control ships with their minds.

Nova and Seth had a fun, playful relationship that was enjoyable to read about.  I gave the book 3 stars for cleanliness because it's not like it was erotica by any means, nor even all that dirty, but I wouldn't let my kids read it, personally. She was detailed enough that I could picture what they were doing, and that for me makes it more on the "unclean" side. And on that note, they totally had sex while there was a battle and monsters eating each other going on outside the door of a freezing, underground prison. It was a little random. Bad timing guys? Just a little?

I do wish there had been just a teensy bit more of a crescendo as far as the climax of the story goes. It was good, and certainly satisfying, but I could see where it was going as we went, and there wasn't a whole lot of suspense. Taking a description from my aunt, I wasn't exactly clenching my butt in apprehension for the characters.

What I did love was the really neat idea about the water ash (trying not to spoil that for you), and the interactions between Nova and Seth. They were a great couple, and they fit so well together you don't even have to really think about it. Nova and Seth are a twosome from the very beginning. The author also made me laugh out loud a couple of times, which I commend. The plot was serious, and some pretty gory stuff goes down, but it's interjected with some good one-liners by Seth, especially.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Catalyst. I look forward to seeing more from Chris in the future, and I hope she keeps writing stories like this. She has a real talent for fluid writing that seems effortless. You can just tell when an author loves what they are writing, and Reher must have really enjoyed this story to give it as much life as she did.

The bottom line: If you like the show, "Firefly," and you have a weekend to devote to a fun Sci-Fi novel, get this one! But only if you are an adult, or if you aren't offended by a little sex.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Interview with Eddie McGarrity

I am pleased to welcome Eddie McGarrity to my blog today! I thoroughly enjoyed reading his interview, and found myself wishing I could fly to Scotland and sit down for some tea and have a real chat with him.

What book have you written/are promoting?
I’ve got 4 books published
In the Grotto: Elrood the Elf
In the Grotto: Universal Merit
The Village King
Eizekiel Forth: The Afterlife Detective

All are available from Amazon, with The Village King and The Afterlife Detective also available in paperback

Can you tell us a little bit about your most recent book?
In the Grotto: Universal Merit is a follow up to In the Grotto: Elrood the Elf. Both feature my most popular character, Elrood, who works at the toy factory at the North Pole. His boss is ‘the guy in the big red suit’ himself. These books are not for kids but they’re safe to read. Elrood works in the sort of places you and I have worked. He moans about his workload and colleagues while being madly in love with Astrid, one of his friends from the Finance Department.

They’re a gentle satire on the world of work and politics. Do you know the mayor of London? His name is Boris and at the North Pole, their Mayor is a blonde haired lady by the name of Doris!

Universal Merit sees Elrood in charge of an upgrade to the Naughty and Nice list which is being outsourced to the South Pole. Liz Ellor at O43 blog says it ‘has some snappy one liners that really make you laugh’.

There’s a Christmas element to the Elrood stories but they’re more about the character and the crazy situations he finds himself in and can be read all year round.

What childhood books inspired you to love reading and writing?
The first book I truly loved was called “The Book of Brownies” by Enid Blyton, which isn’t really cool, but it features these three ‘brownies’, elfin like creatures, who do something naughty and have to go on a quest to find their ‘goodness’ again. I read it over and over, and can still imagine a perilous river crossing at the climax of the story.

The next books, which were unmissable, were the Target novelisations of the Doctor Who television serials. In this modern era of DVD and home video, reading a novelisation was the only way to relive a movie or TV show. I grew up in a remote village on the Island of Islay and the library van used to come to our village once a term for us to borrow six books. My friend Angus and I used to borrow six Doctor Who books each and by the time the library van came back, Angus and I had read twelve Doctor Who books! One term the van had to come to us early, and we sat in the playpark telling each other the stories of the ones we didn’t have time to read.

I started writing stories as soon as I learned to write. My first stories were based on the TV show, Space 1999, and were retellings of that week’s episode but they contained an additional character, Space Captain Eddie. There would be little illustrations of the space ships and so on and I always remember having my mum buy very specific pads I liked using – do all writers have a stationery fetish?

Do you find time to write every day?
I do. I gave up work last year to focus on writing. I don’t always sit and type though. I make sure I do my research, notes, and plotting. It’s important to make sure you’ve got some time to think.

Then there’s my blogging. I try and talk about themes and ideas in my books. One recent post was about the Norse mythology I used as inspiration for The Afterlife Detective.

I also facebook and tweet in character as Elrood. It’s such fun. He’s quite rude about me, referring to me as ‘his typist’! And his followers are great at interacting with him. There’s a writer in the US, Debbie Ocean, who put some friendly pressure on the little guy to have Johnny Depp to follow her for Christmas.

What do you do when you get writer's block?
The best advice I’ve heard is from Robert McKee, the screenwriting guru, in his book ‘Story’. He says that the block is there because you don’t have all the ideas in your head. His example is if you can’t complete something about a family argument, then it’s because you don’t understand the dynamic in such a situation. McKee’s solution is going to the library and reading up on the subject. Alternatively, wait on the library van coming to your village.

What are you reading right now?
I’ve just finished a book called ‘Tudors’ by Peter Ackroyd, which is the second part of his six-volume History of England. It tells the story of that turbulent part of English history from Henry VIII, and his six wives, through to the death of Elizabeth I. You could write six volumes about either of those monarchs but Ackroyd has written a very readable book in one volume. What’s very clever is most European history is about the big events – monarchs and wars – but these books try and shine a light on the ordinary people and how they live their lives.

I can’t wait for part three because, being Scottish myself, the starting off point will be the Scottish King, James VI, become King of England and calling this new place Great Britain.

What is your favorite season?
Summer. The days are longer, the sun occasionally shines in Scotland when there’s no rain, and you can go on a holiday. I was lucky enough to be in northern Norway last summer where it’s daylight for 24 hours. Incredible.

When you write, do you have a snack or beverage on hand?
I usually just have a glass of water on hand, but stop for frequent tea breaks. Since I work from home, I negotiated with the management, to ensure a frequent supply of Britain’s favourite drink; tea. And a scone.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Writing a good book is only 50% of what you need to do. How you properly approach agents and publishers; editing; and, if lucky, promotion take up the other 50%. It’s worth doing this right.

Be prepared for rejection but don’t let it put you off. There are a thousand reasons why a publisher or agent will not take you on. It doesn’t mean your work is bad. It might, though, so be prepared to write something else and send it to the same people. It takes the sting out of a rejection if you get a nice response from the agent or publisher – it means you got that bit right.

Keep writing. Study plots and structures of other novels. And keep going. Most people think they’ve got a book in them. The difference is – some people don’t get disheartened, make it to the end, and then get them published.

What is your favorite dessert?
Chocolate ice cream. And the best way to explain that is in three words: chocolate, ice, cream.

 Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Eddie! I have already added your book to my list of must-reads!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Interview with Eileen Sharp

In the interest of full disclosure, my first interview here is with my mother. She inspired me to write. She nurtured a love of the written word by teaching me to read, reading to me, and telling me fairy tales (of her own creation, I might add) before bed. She is an amazing writer, and I owe her big time for passing that gift (at least in part) down to me! So I put her first on the list.

Eileen Sharp lives in Pennsylvania, and has written several novels, two of which are available on Amazon.com. She has a great sense of humor, and that is reflected in much of her work. You probably won't believe me considering a certain amount of bias, but her books are really fantastic--sharp, witty, and filled with relatable human experiences.

First, what books have you published, and which one would you like to promote here?
I've published The Unspeller and Certainty. I think Certainty is a great book to get out there.

Can you tell us a little about Certainty?
 It's a story about Ren, a young man who can see what people will be like in ten years through ghosts of people's future selves. It gives him a unique perspective on high school. He also meets the ghost self of the girl he's going to fall in love with, which is a strange and complicated experience for him.

Where did you get the inspiration for the story?
From watching everyone I went to high school with and what they did with their lives. I was fascinated by the choices they made and it made me wonder what it would be like if we'd all known about those choices when we were going to school together. Would we have treated each other differently? Maybe been a little less paranoid or self-conscious about our own insecurities...or judgmental.

I noticed that you prefer the young adult genre. Do you think you will stick with that?
Yeah, probably. I'm not even sure what the difference between adult and young adult is other than young adult is usually more clean. I prefer that, so I guess I write for young adults.

What books did you read when you were younger that inspired you to love reading and writing?
I loved Joan Aiken and Lloyd Alexander and I think Ellen Raskin's "The Westing Game" is one of the most perfect books ever written.

What do you do when you have writer's block?
Stare at a blank screen. It's super effective.

Just kidding. This sounds dumb but I sometimes have to stare at the screen for a few days before the groove comes back. Music helps. And the shower. Don't ask me why. Showers spark creativity.

Do you find time to write every day?
I'm not an every day writer. I'm an obsessed chunks of time writer. It just works that way. I don't recommend it to anyone. I should write a book, "Most Ineffective Ways to Write a Novel".
We'll keep and eye out for that one. Do you have any advice for young or aspiring authors?
Advice---yes. It's okay to have a little ADD. If you dream up a scene that has nothing to do with your current project write it anyway. It will wait for you to have time to finish it later. And develop a crap-o-meter for when your stuff is quite what it should be.

Crap-o-meter. I like that. When you are writing, do you have a favorite snack or beverage on hand?

Ice. Can't write without it.

What is your favorite dessert?
I don't know...depends. Cheesecake, maybe.
Any other random thoughts you would like to leave us with?
If you're a writer get shamelessly lost in your stories, and if you're a reader, I love you!
And if you're a musician, thank you for inspiring the rest of us.

You can find Eileen here: www.eileensharp.com

And her books here:


I have some great interviews and book reviews coming up soon, so keep an eye out for them!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

I Am So Not Famous

If you are a writer, I think you can probably relate to a certain degree of hermit-ish-ness. Most of us just want to sit in a dark room with our laptops and beverage of choice, and just write. We don't want to Twitter or network or scratch our heads trying to figure out what on Earth Google+ is and why we should care about who has +1-ed us. And yet, here I find myself, Twittering with an account I originally created out of mere curiosity, reading articles on Google+, and self-promoting shamelessly.

It was totally not supposed to be like this.

I was supposed to be like Stephenie Meyer. I would write this novel and think it was pretty okay, and then I'd send it off to a literary agent or publisher who would gobble it up and sprinkle it into bookstores and reading medias all over the world. I'm pretty sure Stephenie Meyer kind of woke up one morning and realized her inbox was full of compliments. No Google+ head scratching over there.

I'm coming to realize, however, that the vast majority of authors out there, published or not, have to work really flippin' hard to make sure that people read their book. And it's not about money, of course. How could it be? As an author I made less in three months than my husband did while dabbling with chacha for a month. No, what it's really about is knowing you entertained someone. For some authors, maybe it's about knowing you touched someone's life or gave them an epiphany, but for me it's all about making someone smile or taking them to another world for a little while. I want to share that!

 So because of that, I have taken on the daunting quest of social networking. I am learning a lot about it, but I have so much more to learn. And I am realizing that there are things I might want to do with this newfound awareness of networking--book reviews for example. Tons of people type them up onto their blogs; why not me? Keep an eye out for that one...but don't, you know, hold your breath or anything. I'm an absent-minded blogger at best.

If you are a writer, author, poet, or wordsmith of any kind, I figured you could relate. Oh and add me to your social media of choice, if you would!

I mean, seriously, can I get an AMEN? Being an author is exhausting.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Some Updates

Hello readers!

This week I have spent some time preparing for an exciting event I think you will all enjoy. I am taking place in a book fair, where I will be featuring several authors with interviews, giveaways, and some giveaways of my own. I will write more about that as we get close to the date in February. But be on the lookout for it!

Also, Lunula is now available for the Nook through Barnes and Noble. You can check that out here:


It will be available for several other ereaders in the next week or so, and I will keep you posted on that.

Finally, I am writing. Huzzah! I know, I know--expectation met. Well done, writer. However, I am in a bit of a groove, and the sequel to Lunula should be finished by this spring. I realized I left it at a bit of a cliff-hanger, so I feel compelled to finish it as soon as I can! I think you will all really like where Wynn and Gethin's story is going.

Where would you like to see Wynn and Gethin end up? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Much love to you, my faithful readers,

Alyssa Auch