Leo's Angel Oak Tree

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Shout out to my BETA BUDDIES!!!

Just wanted to give a shout-out to the best BETA BUDDIES a writer can have!  Love ya'll!!!

Margo Kelly, Julie Slack, Shannon Eckrich, and Rose Ippolito! 

Watch out for these up-and-coming authors!  They ROCK!!!

Monday, May 24, 2010


Okay!  I received a full submission request from a Sourcebook Editor today!  I am seriously jumping for joy!!  It came out of the blue, as I only did a pitch fest with her for a query critique, and she wants to see my book!  YAY!!!!!!!!!!

Ok, I know...don't go overboard, it's just a submission request, but I'm excited!!!


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Beta Readers Galore!

Hello out there in the Blogosphere!  It's been a while, I know! Sorry about that...

I have been hard at work on revising/editing SOLSTICE, writing new scenes for TIMELESS, and exploring new ideas for LOVESTRUCK.  A lot of work for a busy teacher in the month of May!  Also, my characters have been strangely quiet the past few days.  Ever have one of those weeks where absolutely NOTHING is coming to you.  It's been one of those weeks.

So, silent treatment aside, I wanted to discuss Beta Readers for a minute.  When I first started writing my first novel, I was terrified of the thought of someone reading my manuscript.  How about you?  Then when I finished it, I was itching for feedback.  So, I let my family and friends read it.  They ALL loved it, of course.  I do value their opinion, and I don't think they are wrong, but they don't see the mistakes that other writers see in the manuscript.

Then, on the YA Rebels (Yeah, they are the bomb, right?), Jenn mentioned having a beta reader read her manuscript to get it ready to query.  And I thought to myself: What the freak is a beta reader?  So, I went on some fantastic websites like Absolute Write, Query Tracker, and Writer's Digest, and learned that a beta reader is another writer who reads your manuscript for the sole purpose of finding flaws in the plot, characters, editing, etc...Then, the fear set in.

What if my manuscript is crap?  What is my manuscript has so many holes, I can't fix it?  What if...What if...What if?  Then, I met a few writers who seemed very interested in my story through my query letter and sample scenes on Writer's Digest, and through a lot of dialogue, I came to really value their opinions because they liked my story and still found places where I could improve.  They even wanted to get my opinion, which shocked me because I was very new to writing novels myself.

So, long story short, I have four fantastic beta-readers who I share my writing with who have truly made my manuscript so much better.  I have writer friends now that I can go to when I'm stuck, or need a writer's ear to hear a new scene, and generally talk about writing.  I love them and couldn't see writing any new manuscripts without their very generous advice and expertise. 

Please, before you send out anything:  GET A BETA READER!! 

But, be cautious.  Here are some tips that I found useful when finding my beta readers:

1) Have many conversations with them first.  Get to know their personalities to see if they are a fit for you.
2) Share small bits first to see what kind of feedback you get.
3) Never send your whole manuscript to a beta reader at a time.  This is a HUGE NO-NO for me. 
4) Beta Reading goes 50/50.  You send something and they send something.  It works best that way!
5) Have a schedule:  Send chapters/Critiques due every Sunday or something like that to keep everyone on the up and up!
6) Always have a comment sheet (list of questions) that summarizes their thoughts of the chapter. 
7) Be positive, but be brutally honest as well.  We don't need more sugar coating evaluations of our manuscripts.  We need real critiques!
8) Find a writer that is close to your own writing style or interests.
9) Give Suggestions, not demands.
10) Remember it is all about the writing!!!

This is kind of a long post, but I am glad I had a few seconds to write it.  Thanks for reading, and leave a comment on your own beta reading experiences!

Friday, May 7, 2010

My Bad Girl Blogfest Entry!!

This is a scene from my complete WIP, SOLSTICE, that shows my main character, Grace in a bad girl situation.  I hope it fits the criteria!  Thanks for reading and leave me a comment:

There was light and heat, and the flickering of flame. My eyes blinked furiously, but they were dry as bone. I lifted my head and tried unsuccessfully to bring my hands to my face. I needed to rub my eyes, to activate my tear ducts. It was like I was stuck in a desert, a hot, flaming desert in the middle of night.

My hands were strapped, and the way I was pulling them rubbed gashes into my wrists. The searing pain shot through my skin. This was my dream…it had to be. It was the same noises I remember, the same smells…gasoline and wood. Yet, the twins did not hold me like in the others. I had to wake myself up.

My eyes opened, but my pupils were fully dilated. Everything was a blur. I could make out trees; lots of them surrounding me on all four corners. Torches. Torches lit and blazing. There were shadows all around and the hissing…the hissing would not end. Then, there was applause. Xavier emerged from the shadows, hands clasping together boisterously. I wasn’t dreaming. My head hung limply in surrender.

Xavier grasped my face in his cool hands and lifted it up, pointing it in the direction of a large bonfire across from me. “Open your eyes, Grace. Leomiah has been waiting a long time to see your beautiful eyes for the last time.” My eyes flitted up and tried to focus on what he wanted to show me, and that’s when I saw him.

Leo was kneeling in the dirt, his arms outstretched between two shadow demons I did not recognize. His beautiful angelic face was scarred with bruises and blood. His lips were cut on the top and bottom and both eyes were blackened. They had beaten him to an inch of his life, his pants in rags and his shirt torn off his torso but still hanging onto his waist. He was a bloody pulp and unable to hold himself up. I gasped and a tear rolled out of my eyes clearing the dryness away.

The fury welled up inside me and I lurched forward towards Xavier, my shackles snapping me back mere inches from my target. Xavier simply moved a step back. I roared out a mangled cry. Leo’s head lifted slightly, and he caught a glimpse of me. His hands twitched and the demons gripped them tighter.

Leo’s eyes grew wide as he listened to my thoughts. I didn’t know what to think to put his mind at ease. So, I remained silent, both mentally and orally. Xavier didn’t like that I wasn’t playing along with him. He put his face in mine, his eyes narrowing trying to see if I was awake for his theatrics.

I leaned my head back and thrusted it forward, spitting in his sadistic face. The saliva oozed down his cheek and nose. His hand came up and he backhanded me violently. My head whipped to the opposite side so fiercely I thought it would roll right off my neck. A hand imprint was turning scarlet on my delicate skin. I could hear Leo wrestling with his captors--too weak from the beatings to muster much luck. I leaned my head back to Xavier and smiled beautifully. This angered him. He abruptly turned and walked over to the fire’s edge, grabbing a curved blade, and I recognized it instantly. Leo did, also. It was the seraph blade, cold and deadly.

I must have choked on the billowing smoke because Leo moaned my name and Xavier chuckled. He was amused with himself. Xavier enjoyed his game a little too much.

The hatred I felt for Xavier in that moment was profound. All the things I was planning to say to Leo to get him out of the fight had left me the moment I saw Leo’s battered face and his family tethered and gagged. I wanted Xavier to die. I would kill him myself. He was a repugnant abomination who would not be breathing much longer if I could only get my hands free. I growled at him and managed to get my hands free of my bonds. As Xavier walked closer, I reached into my belt and gripped Leo’s daggar in my hand. Just two more steps and hell could claim this miserable piece of crap!


Okay Readers,

Don't forget about the Bad Girl Blogfest on Andrew's site.  It happens today!!!  I have my entry almost finished and will post it later today.  Here's the link!


Now, bring on the bad girls!!