Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Book Blurb (It Totally Matters)

Don't fall off the blurb cliff.
A book blurb: also known as a summarization of the plot of the book. If you are an author, you know that there are few things more important that getting the blurb of your book perfect. A blurb is meant to give potential readers an idea of the story you want to tell them, and if it sounds interesting enough, they just might buy your book...and the rest will be epic literature history. 
J.K. Rowling, anyone? 
I'm asked to feature or review books all the time, so I've seen the best of the best and worst of the worst. Let me tell you what works. 
Here are a few foolproof tips to making your book blurb amazing. 

  • Practice Makes Perfect. You should be able to sum up your book in a single sentence. If you can't, you don't know your story well enough. One way to practice this skill is by making a list of your favorite movies and summarizing their plots in one sentence. For example, a sentence summary for Air Force One would be: Air Force One is hijacked by terrorists, and the President of the United States is the only passenger who can save the innocent lives aboard the jet. 
  • Study the Best. Pick up a book at Barnes & Noble. Turn it over. What do you see? If it's a paperback, you'll see a plot summary, or a book blurb (yes, there can be promotional blurbs, too, but that's another story). What is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone's blurb like? What about City of Bones, Twilight, or The Hunger Games? What about those plot summations draw you in? 
  • Don't Overdo It. Let me tell you something. The best blurbs are short and punchy. They hook you into the story. So if your blurb is looking like a book report, or a mere recitation of the plot facts, good luck selling your book. Make. It. Shine. Yes, shorter really is better, because less is actually more. The more words you have in your blurb, the less likely people are to read to the last sentence. Read some of Jennifer L. Armentrout's book blurbs and you'll get an idea of what I'm talking about: her blurbs are so entertaining, you forget that it's a blurb. 
  • Pretend. Pretend you have one chance to pitch your story to Paramount or Disney - and the grand prize is a five book deal, a movie contract and a screenwriting gig. It's amazing what motivation does. 
Before I end this, let me give you an example of the plot summary for my NaNoWriMo book: 
What would you do if the world as you know it ended in an instant?
How far would you go to survive?

How much more basic and simple can you get? I can go into more detail underneath that so-called blurb, to give people a feel for the characters, but in just a couple of sentences, I've posed a question while giving people insight into the subject of my story. Both things will make them think about the question (which will make them remember my book), and get them curious. So they'll keep reading more. And let's face it: that's the whole point, my friends.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I Finished NaNoWriMo!

It's such a glorious day! Yes, it might be cloudy where I live. And yes, I might not be able to afford any Christmas presents. But it's all good. You know why? Because I finished NaNoWriMo! I reached the 50,000 word goal in 22 days (I started 5 days late...big mistake!). It wasn't easy, but it was an experience! I had so much fun creating the story I wrote. Imagine if we all made ourselves stick to a premeditated word goal every day? We'd have twelve novels a year! It's something to keep in mind. 
Well, until next year...keep writing!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Indie Monday: Beth Ann Blackwood (Author of Siren Song)

Happy Indie Monday! Hope your Thanksgiving was amazing! Today we're visiting with Beth Ann Blackwood, the author of Siren Song. I'll let her take it away!

Thanks for visiting, Beth Ann!

Happy to be here. Thanks for having me!

Tell us about Siren Song.

Think Twilight meets The Hobbit with a strong heroine and a dash of humor. Ariel Robinson is a word nerd with five word-of-the-day-calendars looking for a place to fit in. When she receives the glossy brochure from Montana State University inviting her to apply, the outdoorsy tomboy feels like a lifer who's been shown the secret escape passage from the cell block of her parents’ Dallas socialite scene. But when she arrives in Bozeman with her trunk load of books, the welcoming committee is far from what she had imagined. As if it’s not bad enough that her roommate Kristin looks like Barbie crossed with Gossip Girl, some invisible being with a sinister voice literally knocks her flat onto the frigidly cold sidewalk—and onto a hospital gurney.
It seems that she’s actually been lured into the training grounds of two battling factions of the Fallen Angels, who are convinced that Ariel can lead them to the Piece of Home, a mysterious, highly coveted object lost when they were evicted from the big mansion in the sky that will determine who wins their war. All is not lost, however. A ridiculously good looking senior named Michael seems intent on popping up everywhere to chaperone her home. And while her blonde bombshell roommate Kristin and geeky classmate Todd insert themselves into their relationship in various vexing ways, Ariel is soon initiated into a world of Fallen Angels, including the kindly, patriarchal Achimalech, snooty Daniel, robotic Cyrus, and superstar lawyer Lucian.

As Ariel is enmeshed in a battle beyond the scope of humanity, she learns that despite their heavenly pedigree, angels have romantic impulses, wandering eyes, and are as quick to lie, steal, and even murder as any mere mortal. Can Ariel find the Piece of Home and settle the age-old score—and snag a super hot boyfriend in the process?

What was the inspiration for Ariel's character?

Believe it or not, it was Harry Potter. I wondered what would have happened if the powers-that-be at Hogwarts had gotten it wrong, and Harry Potter had been plunged into the wizardly world with not an ounce of magic in his veins to help him out. That led to the character of Ariel, a girl who’s always felt like she was sent home from the hospital at birth with the wrong family. She’d hoped that MSU would be the place where she could finally fit in, but instead, she’s mistaken (or not!) for someone with connections to the Fallen Angels, and has to operate in their supernatural world relying on solely on her very human skills.

By the way, descriptions of all the Siren Song characters are contained on this website:

The site also contains a diagram of the Fallen Angels’ headquarters, excerpts of The Rules that the Fallen Angels are supposed to follow (which are referenced in Siren Song but not spelled out) and other cool facts.

From B.A.'s Pinboard (Fanpop)
Tell me more about the "ridiculously good-looking" senior Michael. *grins*

Ah.  I could talk forever about Michael. He’s got dark hair, light blue eyes and a perfect dark stubble on his face that usually only airbrushed GQ models manage to pull off. I’ve created a Pinterest board with options for what Michael looks like, and I’d love other people’s photos of what they think he looks like after they read the book. Here’s the link:

Michael rocks an “I’m sexy and I know it” attitude carried off with a wink that makes you like him. It’s all Ariel can do not to drool when he focuses his full attention on her. And for someone who loves words as much as Ariel does, Michael’s command of vocabulary makes him totally irresistible.

But every time Ariel thinks they’re about to get closer, Michael does something that makes her wonder if he has another agenda - one that may not involve her best interests.  Who hasn’t been there? J

Your book is New Adult. What do you think about the growing popularity of this category?

I totally get it because even though the age range for New Adult is broad, the group shares the common denominator of trying to answer the question of “who am I and where do I fit in?” Siren Song is basically a fish out of water story, which is how many people feel both in school and for years afterwards as they try to find their way in the world and what best suits them.

What's your favorite writing snack?

That’s easy – sour flavored jelly beans mixed in with Hot Tamales. Doesn’t get better than that!

Beth Ann! :)

I live with my husband and two pugs, Waldo & Jonesy, in Dallas, Texas, although we spend a lot of time in Bozeman, Montana, the setting for Siren Song. I started out as a trial lawyer and attended writing classes at night just for fun. I ended up loving it so much that writing is now my primary occupation.  I’m an avid marathoner (as you can tell from my picture) and am currently working on the remaining books in the Siren Song trilogy and developing a spin-off series for Lucian Castlewhite, the superstar lawyer to the Fallen Angels. My author website is

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Enjoy your turkey. 
Or, if you're a vegetarian. 
Enjoy the tofu. 

(Good luck with that)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Eternal Starling: New Adult Novel

Evangeline is the kind of girl who keeps dating one loser after another. Pessimistic on the concept of true love, she goes hiking one day and runs into a really hot guy named Alex. They date, things happen, and then she runs into ANOTHER hot guy: Emil. Turns out, both Alex and Emil are more than what they seem, which means they're of the paranormal-hot-guy variety, naturally. People are trying to hunt Evangeline and as it turns out, the big question will not be if she survives, but which guy she chooses. 

Oh, yes! This is the kind of romantic love triangle I'm a fan of. It's not overdone. I liked how the author used the concept of reincarnation to tie everything together - something that I adore when it's done correctly. I am totally team Emil. I like my bad boys who have a heart of gold - who could resist him? I didn't find Alex half as charming as Emil, but that's just because I thought Emil was more honest with Evie than Alex was.
In conclusion? I loved this New Adult romance novel.

Put Eternal Starling on your TBR shelf on GoodReads!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Breaking Dawn Part 2: My Honest Reaction

Okay. So. 
Twilight, Breaking Dawn Part 2. 
I kind of felt like Breaking Dawn Part 1 was like this: 
It could have been better. 
So when I went to see an advanced showing of Part 2, there were, of course, a bunch of crazy teenage fan girls everywhere, camped out in the cold rain, like little puppies getting called to dinner. 
Sheer Mania. 
Kind of.
I've read all the Twilight books, obviously, and for some reason the films just don't entertain me as much as the lit. It might be because beyond the love triangle, there is no story. But hey, that's just me. When I was watching the movie and Bella goes all vampire on Edward and tackles a mountain lion, I was hoping for a little more action in the movie, but that doesn't really happen until the end. So....when the saga finally came to a close and everybody was cheering and clapping and getting emotional, I was like: 

Totally not really sad.
 Just relieved. You know why? Because the MORTAL INSTRUMENTS is being made into a movie and it's time for the Shadowhunters to take charge. Not that I'm against Twilight or anything. I'm just saying. 
Bella and Edward are happy. We should be too.
And we lived happily ever after.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

My NaNoWriMo Experience So Far

Dreamstime Free Stock Photos.
Write, write, write. 
Stop. Grab a cup of hot tea. 
Write, write, write. 
Stop. Check twitter. 
Write, write, write. 
Keep writing. 

This, ladies and gentlemen, is how NaNoWriMo is going for me right now. It can be hard to find time to keep up with the daily word count for this event because first of all, I'm a freelance writer, which means I spend all day writing article after article as fast as I can. Second, because it's just challenging to get 50,000 words in one month. 
Which is also why I love this thing. 

So far I've observed a few interesting effects this has had on me. One, when it becomes clear that I haven't met my word goal for the day, there suddenly appears some super interesting Facebook post or YouTube video about fluffy cats. Two, NaNoWriMo Write-Ins are a great way to connect with fellow story-lovers. Three, story worlds and characters develop a lot faster when you're doing NaNoWriMo - it just happens. Four, there's nothing like hot chocolate or cookies when you're struggling to write that last scene  of the day about your two MCs. 

My tips for surviving NaNoWriMo are these: 

  • Have fun. Just write whatever you want to write and be yourself.
  • Don't worry about spelling mistakes. Fix it later. Just write. 
  • Connect with other Wrimos and go to local Write-Ins when you can swing it. It's worth it. 
  • Turn on an epic movie soundtrack to inspire you to write. 
  • Buy a NaNoWriMo sticker and put it on your computer so you can feel like some kind of macho writer veteran when you open up your laptop. 
  • Again, just HAVE FUN! 
I hope NaNoWriMo is going well for all you other participants out there. Stick to your guns, er, keyboards, and try to get as close to that 50K word goal as you possibly can. A for Effort! 

Monday, November 12, 2012

My Heroes (From Books and Movies)

It's almost December (the month of my Blogoversary!), and I'd like to point out that over the course of 2012, I have been inundated with a thousand different story worlds and their subsequent characters. Whether from a book or a movie, here are my top five favorite fictional heroes from 2012. I'll do heroines next week. 

1. Prince Dhiren from Tiger's Curse, by Colleen Houck. First of all, he's a prince (epic win), second of all, he writes poetry for his beloved (I'm not talking Facebook Comment poetry, either) and he's got the looks of a Greek god. Or rather, Indian god. Whatever. He's my favorite book hero of the year. 

2. Chris Hemsworth from Snow White & The Huntsman. Is it weird that I completely LOVED this movie? It was all about action, and although the romance part was minimized, the Huntsman won my heart and earned a place as one of my top movie heroes of the year. *swoon and sigh* 

3. Will from Angelfire, by Courtney Allison Moulton. My goooodness. I loved, loved, loved this book and I loved Will even more. He's completely selfless, loyal, brave and true. He's like a chocolate truffle: total perfection. 

4. Jem Carstairs from the Clockwork Prince. I know that Tess is all in love with Will, but I'm not. I'm in love with Jem, and so are a lot of other readers. He's dying from a terrible disease but he still puts Tess first no matter what - that's true love, people! Jem is awesome. 

5. Chris Evans as Captain America in The Avengers. He's my favorite Avenger (Thor is second in my book!), and he's like the perfect red blooded American patriot. He's like a walking, breathing Declaration of Independence or something.

Who are your favorite heroes from 2012? I have a whole bunch of other heroes in mind for this, so each month I will take one day to spotlight my Hero of the Month. This month's Hero of the Month will be Chris Hemsworth, because his new movie Red Dawn is coming out - a remake of one of the best movies ever made.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Next Big Thing! Meme

It's the week of blog memes at Writing Belle! I got tagged by my fabulous NA Sister, Victoria Smith, from her blog in the The Next Big Thing! meme. We're supposed to talk about the book we're working on for release, so here's a little Q&A with myself about the novel. 

Age 12/13. When I was writing the original draft.
Where did the idea come from for the book? 
To be fair, I have two WIPs. I'm not sure which one will reach publication first. My first book, the working title being Bound by Blood, is a dystopian spin on a Russian legend. I got the idea for it when I was in Middle School and it never left me. I've written the story about 40 times since, I just haven't found the right voice yet for the narrative. The second book doesn't have a working title (yet!) and it details the adventure and romance of one girl struggling for survival after the world as we know it comes to an end. 

Chris Hemsworth
What actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? 
My leading man for for both books  could easily be Chris Hemsworth. When I first saw that actor I was like, "He's the guy from my novel!" The actress for my female lead in Bound by Blood could be Jennifer Lawrence. The other book could be Mandy Moore. 

Mandy Moore
Will your book be self-published or will you be represented by an agency?
Self-published! I self published my first book, Snappy Social Networking, and it was so much fun that I plan to do it with my fictional escapades, too. 

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript? 
About three months for Bound by Blood. For the second MS, I'm still working on it but I assume it will be about one month. Maybe two. 

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? 
Hmm. I would compare Bound by Blood to Enclave, by Ann Aguirre. The second MS could be compared to Jeyn Roberts Dark Inside, but without the supernatural element. Replace that with a romantic element. *grins* 

Now I'm going to pass this meme on to some great writer/bloggers whom have either been published in the past or are about to be! 

Emily Curran is the author of an upcoming novel called Finding Cassilia, a New Adult modern retelling of Cinderella. It comes out on November 19th and I am so excited to read it. Check out Emily at Booksy Cup

Summer Day is the author of many modern retellings of classics, such as Pride and Princesses and Wuthering Nights. Her newest novel, Truly, is based on yet another classic. Visit Summer at her blog

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

One Lovely Blog Award

It's been a while since I've taken part in a blog meme, so this one should be fun! I was awarded the One Lovely Blog Award by Kate from The Butterfly Storm. Here's how the meme works: 

  1. Thank the person who nominated you (thanks, Kate!) and link back to their blog. 
  2. List seven totally random things about yourself.
  3. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award and let them know about their nomination. 
I'll play along! Here are seven completely random facts about yours truly. 
  1. I have never traveled out of the state of California, but I have visited Hollywood, Palm Springs, the Mojave Desert, Beverly Hills, San Diego, Eureka, Yreka, Morro Bay, Monterey, San Francisco, Redding, San Bernardino, Route 66's Wigwam Motel, Los Angeles, Anaheim, San Jose, San Luis Obispo, Pismo Beach and Sequoia National Park. 
  2. I don't like movie popcorn unless it has so much butter on it that I can't taste the popcorn. So I might as well just bring a bowl of melted butter with me instead. 
  3. My house is a library. We decided to part with 1700 books this year to cut back. Yeah. 
  4. My first paid job was to write articles for an online publishing company about stuff like tire rims, counter installation and eye glasses. 
  5. My favorite subject in High School was United States History. My least favorite subject was math. 
  6. Top fictional heroes? Jace Lightwood from The Mortal Instruments, Ren from the Tiger's Saga, Damon from the Vampire Diaries and Will from Angelfire.
  7. If I could be any fictional heroine, I would either be Clary from The Mortal Instruments or Kelsey Hayes from the Tiger Saga. 
Voila! Now I don't have 15 bloggers to tag at the moment, so I'll just go ahead and tag the top lovelies I think might want to participate in this meme. 

Monday, November 5, 2012


NaNoWriMo. Also known as National Novel Writing Month, up until this last year, I was not aware of how awesome this was. Or what it was. I have always played the novel writing game with myself, but what makes NaNoWriMo so great is that it's a nation-wide event aimed at getting people away from the TV and in front of the keyboard. The goal? 50,000 words by midnight on November 30th. Write anything and everything you've ever wanted and get a chance to win NaNoWriMo within your region (you get a badge for reaching your word goal). It's fun, maybe a little bit hectic, but definitely worth the time and effort. It also goes to show that anybody anywhere can be a writer if you just sit down and let the words hop onto paper! 

So here's my question: 
How do you get to the 50,000 word goal by November 30th? 
Have any advice for new writers just beginning their journey into the storyworld? 
Let me know in the comments below!

New to NaNoWriMo? No worries! Check out NaNoWriMo's Official Website to get involved in the fictional fun! 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Scarlette by Davonna Juroe: A New Twist on an Old Story

To round out this week of trick or treating, I'm very excited to introduce a young, talented writer I just met a couple of weeks ago, Davonna Juroe. Davonna is the author of Scarlette, a novel with a different twist on the beloved fairytale of Little Red Riding Hood. Scarlette is Davonna's debut novel. 

Me: Welcome! Tell us about your novel, Scarlette.

DavonnaHey, Summer! Thanks for hosting me, and a big hello to all your blog followers! *waves*

Scarlette is a YA and a dark retelling of Little Red Riding Hood that takes place against a frightening historic event, which some of your readers may be familiar with, if they're into creepy folklore. 

Some sixty years after French author and aristocrat Charles Perrault penned his rendition of Little Red Riding Hood in 1697, nearly one-hundred people were ferociously mauled and killed by an unidentified wolf-like creature in the Gévaudan province of France.

Rumors blended with superstition, and the terrified peasantry blamed the attacks on a werewolf. They then began calling the monster The Beast of Gévaudan, and so was born one of the most famous alleged werewolves in history.

After combining both the Perrault and Grimm Brothers' versions with this actual historic event, I wrote the novel as if the fairy tale might've really happened in history.

Here's a short bit on the novel's story:

Scarlette, an 18-year-old peasant, lives under a dark threat. A nightmarish creature lurks in the surrounding forest, killing the villagers one by one. When Scarlette's grandmother survives an attack, Scarlette learns that her grandmother hasn't suffered the bite of just any normal animal.

Now desperate, Scarlette searches throughout her province to find a cure. But there are those who want to keep their pasts hidden. As she begins to uncover the dark secrets of her village, Scarlette is befriended by a local nobleman and a woodcutter who share a gruesome history with the beast.

To save her grandmother, Scarlette must unravel their mystery and solve an age-old crime. But as she pieces together the clues, Scarlette finds herself torn between the two men, both of whom want to be more than friends and hold the key to the cure.

Me: When and why did you decide to start writing?

Davonna: I've been writing since elementary school. I still have stapled books of stories I wrote from when I was a kid, but I didn't take the plunge seriously until about six years ago. Before that and in college, I actually played the harp and was pursuing a degree in music, but health problems threw a wrench in my plans. So I had to switch gears.

I knew I still wanted to do something creative, and I'd always been captivated and drawn to storytelling, so I thought writing fiction would be a great match for me. Turns out it was. :D

Beast of Gevaudan - provided by Davonna Juroe
Me: I take it you enjoy reading Grimm’s Fairytales. What’s your all-time favorite magical story?

Davonna: I do love the Grimms' work and fairy tales in general! So much, that when I was a kid, I wished the stories could've been real. Little did I know that that whimsy desire would be the driving force behind the vision for Scarlette.

Anyway, I'd have to say that my all time favorite fairy tale is Hans Christian Anderson's The Little Mermaid. So tragic, yet a truly heartfelt story. I cry every time I read it or watch an adaptation. And, especially when I see the anime version from the 70's where the mermaid's name is Marina, and she plays the harp (This film actually inspired me to start playing the harp when I was little!). That one really gets me!

Me: What’s the best part of being a writer for you?  

Davonna: Stories can be extremely powerful. So I'd say the best part of being a writer is sharing stories that make people feel deep emotions. Creating something that someone could ultimately carry with them for a lifetime is a great honor, and is the ultimate benefit of being a remembered storyteller.

Me: What’s your favorite writing snack?

DavonnaGluten free pretzels! :D

Me: If you could offer any advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?

Davonna: Take classes, and read every book on writing you can get your hands on. You'll learn something from everything and everyone. Also, learn storytelling structure. That is huge!

If you get stuck on your story, try using an outline. Having a clear idea of how you want the story to go--before sitting down to put words on the page--can save you a lot of stress.

And, networking is key. Join a critique group. If you want to write YA, the YA writing community is fantabulous on Twitter, and there are great organizations to hook up with like SCBWI.

Last but not least: never give up!  I haven't seen a writer fail when they've followed their passion and stuck to it. ;)

Anyway, thanks again for having me, Summer! :D And as I bid you and your followers farewell, I'd like to say that as a gift to readers, Scarlette will be available this weekend--on Sunday, November 4th--all day *FREE* to download from Amazon.  

So bust out some hot cocoa, lock your doors, turn off the lights, and read a creeptastic new spin on the fabled girl-in-the-red-cloak. Happy reading!
 Connect with Davonna: