Saturday, November 1, 2014

30 Days of Thankfulness + Big Giveaway #1

Welcome to November and Unwritten's next BIG event, 30 Days of Thankfulness, featuring a tremendous giveaway that will be PERFECT for a reader on your Christmas list...or a gift for yourself!!! We are giving away a...


Yep, you heard me right, but that's not all. All authors participating in this month's event have also generously donated a Kindle copy of one of their books so you'll already have some great stories to read when you curl up with your new Kindle!! To enter, just complete all the easy entries on the Rafflecopter on the bottom of this page. Before we do that, let's hear from our first author and what she's thankful for today:

Author Victoria Bastedo, author of Roots Entwine (YA Fantasy)

So many things have been given to me by God that it's hard to say just one. But recently we had to put down one of our dogs. His name was Thatcher and he was a big, fawn-colored boxer.

Raising so many children we'd decided, no dogs. But my oldest daughter had a teacher at school that would bring his boxer puppy to class. She fell in love with it. She began working on us. 'You know, mom and pop, boxers don't shed. They have hair instead of fur, so they never smell like Wet Dog!' shed' say, or; 'Did you know that boxers, when they're happy to see you, bend in the middle? It's called the boxer 'kidney bean'.

It took her over a year, but finally we found a good farm breeder and bought a boxer puppy. Thatcher was our second boxer. When we were looking over the litter of pups, trying to choose one- this little guy with his big black eyes and his floppy ears sat down his hindquarters. (By the way, when boxers sit their backsides never actually touch the ground) He looked way up to see who I was. He was such a sweet boy, always. A gentleman dog. And, that time when he bounded down hill towards the little girl tea party going on, and when next were heard many squeals like only little girls can shriek, we know he was just happy to see them!

Over a year ago he developed Degenerative Myelopathy. It was hard to see him lose more and more of the mobility in his back legs. But we got him a wheel chair and learned how to carry him outside so he could do his business. It was good for my kids to learn to be patient when he had accidents. We all learned more about mercy, humility, and love. We kept him with us as long as we could, but when I perceived that he was beginning to suffer, we made an appointment with the Vet.

I lost a dog I loved but I'm thankful. I'm glad that I got to have him. I'm thankful that I was able to give him a long, happy life. With our large family he was never alone. Having dogs has taught my kids many lessons about being kind to a creature that's weaker than yourself, having to give up what you're doing at the moment to take care of them, and how to forgive every mistake a person might make and just love them.

It's made me a better writer too, because writing is all about the inner emotions that churn inside but don't get named. Dogs communicate so much in their eyes, their ears, the way they stand, and how they listen to every word you say. Thank you, Thatcher, for being such a wonderful pet!

****


Victoria Bastedo lives in a house on the river near Seattle, Wa. She has six children, which has made her by association; a doctor, a teacher, an advice columnist, and a shoulder getting ever more cushioned by time. She has God, her family, and many friends. Thank you for reading!







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Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!! What's Scaring You Today?

It's Halloween!!! Time for spooks and kooks, candy and dandy, fun and sun...ok, no sun here. We're expecting temps in the low 40's and rain with possible snow. Teeth will be chattering from more than fright, I can tell you that.

Since it's time for all things scary, let's talk phobias. A phobia is a severe fear of something. It can be milder for some people--perhaps they can be near what fears them, but won't touch it, use it, or participate in it. In other, phobias can be absolutely debilitating to the point of needing medication or therapy. Here's a list of phobias you may not have heard of (from http://psychology.about.com/od/phobias/a/phobialist.htm) :


Achluophobia - Fear of darkness. 
Bibliophobia - Fear of books. (WHAT??? I'd have to take medication for that one. I love me some books)
Cyberphobia - Fear of computers. 
Ephebiphobia - Fear of teenagers. (Now this one, I understand!)
Genuphobia - Fear of knees.  
Iatrophobia - Fear of doctors. 
Leukophobia - Fear of the color white. 
Mageirocophobia - Fear of cooking. (I should pretend to suffer from this. Hubby's a great cook!)
Nosocomephobia - Fear of hospitals. 
Ombrophobia - Fear of rain. 
Phobophobia - Fear of phobias. (How the heck do you get around this one?)
Somniphobia - Fear of sleep. 
Tonitrophobia - Fear of thunder.
Venustraphobia - Fear of beautiful women. (I wonder how many people I've scared...)
Wiccaphobia - Fear of witches and witchcraft. 
Xenophobia - Fear of strangers or foreigners. 
Zoophobia - Fear of animals. 

Now, for me, it's no secret I'm scared of dolls. Even the not-so-freaky looking ones can scare me at times. I have literally had to put some of my kids dolls out of sight or leave a store or shop if I see one that scares me. This phobia is called pediophobia, and you can read Lisa Binion's great article on it here, where she asked me and others how our fear of dolls began:  http://www.thenewsinbooks.com/pediophobia-the-fear-of-dolls/ 

Being a ghosty show lover, I watch programs like Ghost Adventures each week. They actually went to the Island of the Dolls in last week's episode. This place is what I imagine hell must be like. You couldn't pay me enough to go there. It took a great deal of willpower for me to actually watch the whole show. Click here to see some clips: http://www.travelchannel.com/tv-shows/ghost-adventures/episodes/island-of-the-dolls

Now, the question is...what scares YOU? Let's talk about it!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Be Specific, Not Pacific!

Hiya peeps! I've neglected my poor blog for long enough, so I wanted to post a quick writing tip today. This is a tip I shared with my wonderful students in this fall's session of the creative (and very economical) writing course, F2K. (There's another one starting up in January--sign up now!)

When you're writing, you want to be as specific as you can so that your reader can visualize the scene and stay interested.

Replace those words that are as generic as the ocean is big. 

Be on the lookout for these commonly used "Pacific" words (and many more):

*car
*building
*man
*woman
*tree
*flower
*food
*drink
*shoes
*clothes
*room



Now, let's think about how we can make a couple of these more specific and less Pacific:


tree --> oak, pine, cedar, sapling, redwood, birch
shoes -->heels, sandals, sneakers, boots, flip-flops, wedges
man --> doctor, taxi driver, chef, waiter, wrestler

Often, you can add even another layer to shrink those Pacific words into specific puddles. Take "shoes" for example:


shoes -->heels --> stilettos -->Jimmy Choos 



Being more specific in your descriptions helps readers immediately identify whatever you're describing. They won't have to slow down and fill in every detail in their minds. They're more likely to keep reading AND remembering the story long afterwards. We do have to be careful in not detailing our readers to death, but I'll talk about that in another post. Now, are you ready to write?



Oh well, you can't please 'em all! ~Mysti

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Party in the House Tomorrow Night--The Roche Hotel Release Party

RELEASE PARTY tomorrow night for my new romantic comedy, The Roche Hotel! Fun, games, and prizes including a hotel-themed prize basket with:


*Ultra-soft robe
*Ghirardelli chocolates
*Hotel soaps, shampoo, and shower gel
*Signed postcards...all packed in a...
*Green canvas storage cube from Target!



Thursday, September 4, 2014

Story Planning for Pantsers

Hi, my name is Mysti, and I'm a pantser.

You may nod in understanding, or you may ask, "What the heck is a pantser?" If the latter is true, here's a definition from Urban Dictionary:
Pantser - A NaNoWriMo term that means that you 'fly by the seat of your pants' when you are writing your novel. You have nothing but the absolute basics planned out for your novel.

This outlook towards writing is often opposed by the 'planner', who knows exactly what is going to happen, when it will happen, and where it will happen. There is often enmity between the two types of writers.


In recent times, I've been slowly recovering, thanks to many things.

  • NaNoWriMo: Writing 50,000 words of a novel in one month is not possible unless you have SOME sort of story plan...if you want something that can eventually pass as a novel one day, that is.
  • Co-authoring a secret project with a seasoned story planner (more on that when it's time to publish). Teaming up with someone more experienced in planning or simply being mentored by a great planner can help in the road to recovery from pantser-ism. 
  • The Art of Blurb Writing: A wonderful online course taught by author Beth Fred. Not only will you learn how to write a lovely, compelling blurb, but you'll be able to use the techniques to plan future stories. Which brings me to...
  • The Seven-Point Plot Plan: Based on the 3-Act Story Structure that basically applies to every story since cavemen times, this expanded outlining plan helps to lay out those major plot points so you've got a little framework to build on.

Without a doubt, I'll never be a meticulous story planner. That would kill the fun for me quicker than dancing with Miley Cyrus. Every outline, note, and draft is fluid and subject to change until published. But, I am starting to see the benefit in more careful planning, both before and during the writing process. It helps me not fall into plot holes so deep I can't scratch my way out. Once that happens, I lose my will to write, which can often mean death to a story. 

And that, my friends, is the real tragedy. No more dead stories! Grab a notebook and pen and take some time to plan before you write. Remember, there is no ONE right way to write anything. You have to find what works best for you. But, a little planning goes a long way!

Remember kids, stay in school and don't do pantsing. ~Mysti

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Review of What Gifts She Carried by Lindsey R. Loucks

What Gifts She Carried (The Grave Winner #2)What Gifts She Carried by Lindsey R. Loucks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The dead just won't stay dead in Krapper, Kansas. Book Two of Lindsey R. Loucks's young adult paranormal series takes us straight back to the graveyard with a story that will leave you on the edge of your seat and begging for more.

The story opens with young Leigh Baxter washing off the muck from the ending of the last story. She's managed to avoid being buried alive and turned into an undead sorceress, thanks to her own determination, her best friend Jo and two guys she kinda loves (Callum & Tram). They are all catching their breaths, relieved that their small-town nightmare is finally over.

But it's not. Before poor Leigh can even settle down to sleep, knowing that she, her dad, and little sister are safe, something dead spies on them. It knows exactly what Leigh and her sister are. That secret is now a magnet, drawing the followers of evil super-sorceress Gretchen right to Leigh to finish what they started.

Instead of running from trouble and denying her powers, I admired Leigh for deciding to explore exactly what she can do. Tram (a powerful magical being himself) once again proved himself the gallant teenage knight I thought he was and agreed to train her in using one aspect of her magic ability. The rest she had to discover through a whole series of dangerous happenings, but luckily Leigh wasn't alone. The whole cast of characters, including some good sorceress teachers, came to her aid once again to make this a truly exciting sequel.

The only thing I stumbled upon in the story was the amount of magical information that sometimes proved more confusing than anything. Lots of terminology is tossed about involving who possesses certain powers. I found myself having to go back and read in places where I really just wanted to push forward with the mounting action. There's also the ending cliffhanger and knowing the third book isn't due out until....? Yeah, so without giving anything away, be prepared to scream "What? No! It can't end there!".

If you're like me, you might be tempted to pester the author to hurry up and finish the last book. However, if it turns out to be as nail-biting as the first two, the wait might well be worth it. If you're into the young adult paranormal fiction genre, do check out this series. These are not standalone books, so you'll want to start with The Grave Winner before you jump into What Gifts She Carried. You'll be glad you did.



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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Review of Love Birds of Regent's Park by Ruth J. Hartman

Love Birds of Regent's ParkLove Birds of Regent's Park by Ruth J. Hartman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Like other regency romances by Ruth J. Hartman, Love Birds of Regent's park proved to be a sweet romance full of mirth and heart-tugging challenges. It began with pair of love birds who met in Regent's Park, but love wasn't an easy flight for this couple.

Young Lucy Ashbrook is an eligible young woman who dearly loves the bird sanctuary at Regent's Park. Nothing gives her more pleasure than sitting along the well-manicured paths, sketching the feathered residents. Nothing, that is, but a sanctuary worker named Oliver Barrow whom she meets there on one fateful morning.

Oliver Barrow is a man of two worlds--one he wants nothing to do with and the life he prefers, working in the natural tranquility of the bird sanctuary. And that world brightens on the day he meets Miss Ashbrook as she sketches birds. Cue a bashful introduction and a hilarious goose chase/hat rescue, and you know these two are birds of the same feather.

As the story progressed, I grew to empathize with both Oliver and Lucy. In Regency Era London, a simple hook-up and go-steady relationship was unheard of. Marriages were political partnerships involving not just a couple, but entire families. Such is the case with these two. The conflict is further complicated by Oliver's dying father, Lucy's blackmailed father, and the sleazy Conrad Croome, who wants Lucy for a proper bride.

That's where the weak point came in for me, however. The conflict never quite reached the point of an unforgettable climax. All in all, it proved fairly predictable, though it had room for greater twists and surprises. With a little expansion, I think it could have well achieved that.

Overall, the writing itself was lighthearted and smooth. The older supporting characters, Lucy's maid Anna and the sanctuary caretaker Richard, served as sweet mentors to the lead couple. Their romance provided a nice "aw" effect throughout. The setting and cast was vivid and compact enough to provide an enjoyable, leisurely read. I'd recommend Love Birds of Regent's Park to any sweet romance fans, particularly those who love Regency.

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