Tag Archives: NovelClique

Artist’s Curse

InsecureWritersSupportGroup  All artists suffer from insecurity. I don’t pretend to understand it. You don’t see engineers plagued by it or doctors or bail bondsmen. It just curses those in the arts. We are so creative that we even find new and innovative ways to feel insecure. It alleviates the boredom I suppose.

I’m at a crossroads, a time for hard decisions about moving forward. It seems like insecurity is even worse during these times. I’ll second guess myself six ways from Sunday before it’s all said and done (how’s that for two clichés in a row?). Sometimes these crossroads serve a positive purpose, and it’s our own human insecurities that make the path appear wrought with danger.

Writers face rejection so consistently that facing the insecurity of a crossroads almost seems like a relief because this is at least something I control. I can’t control the rejections, the bad reviews, the crappy writing days, but I control the decisions I make. Regardless of how it turns out, as long as I make the decision with the best interests of my writing in mind, I can consider it a win.

How do you face hard decisions?


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Edge of Truth


Edge of Truth is a dystopian tale by author Natasha Hanova. Trapped in a world where she can never achieve more than the society has ‘approved’ for her, Rena Moon is a typical teenager. She rebels against everything from the Overlord to the Synbots to her father and aunt. Rena wants more and determines she can get more. The slight wrinkle to things is her ‘secret’. She’s an Other, one of those gifted with a hidden ability.

Like most girls she’s got a bestie, Blaze, and a crush, Nevan, and she has a lot on her plate. There’s the Solstice Celebration, avoiding her problematic little brothers, and her constant search for a way out of ‘Hollowdump’ as she calls her hometown. On one search into Westrock, she stumbles upon a treasure. That might be an understatement since Rena’s ‘Other’ trait is the ability to sense earthquakes. In this case, the quake unearths the cave of riches.

The fortuitous find represents freedom from the oppressive Overlord Andrick and the way of life she’s fought against. A reluctant Blaze agrees to help her market the treasures. Unfortunately, they don’t make it home before curfew and seek refuge from the Synbots at Nevan’s home much to Rena’s horror. Embarrassing moments pile up for her there, and she’s still got to face her father the next day. Rena’s grounding forces Blaze to go to market without her and attempt to sell the goods. This is Blaze’s strength and she does well. Both girls gear up for the Solstice Celebration now that they have outfits fit for who they really are, not who society has made them.

The first sign of a problem is when Rena shows up, but Blaze doesn’t. When it becomes apparent someone has kidnapped Blaze, Nevan joins Rena in the search for her bestie. Balancing her growing attraction to Nevan with her worry for Blaze and her guilt that her desire to leave Hollowdump is what caused her friend to go missing, Rena follows the path of clues. She knows her ‘directions challenged’ best friend is completely unable to lead her kidnapper to the cave and fears what he’ll do when he realizes it. What results is a suspense filled ride across uncharted territory during the ‘burn’, a dangerous sun without the protection of the ozone layer. Problem with her ability is she also causes quakes. She has to worry about and control her emotions as they search. This would be totally easier without Nevan by her side.

Rena is an independent minded female character, which is a huge plus in YA. Blaze is also a strong character although quite different from Rena. Nevan is the quintessential guy crush who can send a girl over the edge causing her to almost forget everything, even her missing bestie, by simply touching her hand. Power is at the heart of the book. In a dystopian society, it often is. However, independence and hope and loyalty win the day in Edge of Truth. The book is an edge of your seat roller coaster ride through a mine field, at the same time it maintains a sweet tale about friendship and first love. It’s a YA must read.

I received an ARC of Edge of Truth for the purpose of this review.


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Let’s Get Organized

Let's Get Organized!

Let’s Get Organized!

Social media is an imperative for writers but managing a balance between that and writing and life leads to stress. For writers, writing time must come first, otherwise it negates the purpose of building a platform. It’s that delicate balance that led my critique group to brainstorm topics for our group blog for the entire year. It probably makes me a nerd to say that I found it fun to select themes that transitioned seamlessly one into another. We also wanted to do this for our individual blogs as well.

In an effort to find a balance between writing and the real world and share it with other writers, we started the Let’s Get Organized blog hop.

The rules are simple:

  1. Create a 4-6 week editorial calendar (here’s a cool template). If you post more than once a week, feel free to cut this time-frame in half. Unless, you’re up for the challenge.
  2. Publish the schedule to your blog. As with exercising, people tend to stick to goals when they’re held accountable.
  3. Tag three bloggers to join in the fun, then contact them to let them know about it. (This step is optional)
  • Thursday, February 28 – Interview with Christine Denise Smith-Jarmola
  • Wednesday, March 6Insecure Writer’s Support Group Post
  • Friday, March 8The Next Big Thing Blog Hop
  • Monday, March 18 – Ninja Captain Alex’s Top 10 Movie Countdown Blogfest (scroll to the bottom of this post to join the fun)
  • Thursday, March 21 – eARC Review: Edge of Truth by Natasha Hanova
  • Thursday, March 28 – Friends Don’t Let Friends Write Under the Influence

Many of the authors I follow already organize, so it’s difficult to figure out who to tag. So, anyone who has not done this before and wants to create an editorial calendar for their blog, consider yourself tagged.

If you decide to participate, please leave a comment below. I’d love to know what you’re up to.

Do you struggle with finding a balance between writing and the real world? How do you manage your social media and have time to write?

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The Sweet Hereafter

A conference brings this storm swell of creative juices, and you’ll return home convinced that you are ready to conquer anything publishing throws your way. That glow will last if you’re lucky, 24 hours. A part of every conference prep should include planning for a return from the wonderful world of nothing but writers and writing to that world of diapers, bottles, teenage drivers and angst, or cranky hubbies. Whatever your daily world encompasses, it’s all waiting for you when you leave that sheltered world of the “conference”.

The first thing you need to do is prepare yourself emotionally for this return to your ‘normal world’ as Christopher Vogler describes it in The Writer’s Journey. My critique group has done this and we’ve learned new things every time. Here are suggestions for returning from the conference:

1. Hit the ground running when you get home by making time to email the contacts you made at the conference. Don’t wait. Don’t give them or yourself time to forget. If you followed advice, you wrote something memorable on the back of the business cards you collected.

2. Share what you learned. If you have a local group of writers you work with, share what you learned with them. If not, use your blog or website as a host for educating others about Oklahoma Writer’s Federation, Inc. (or your conference) and writing. If your entire group attended (as our group does), it is always a good idea to debrief after conferences. Go over what went well, what didn’t, what inspired you, what frustrated you, etc. As a group, we attend different sessions to maximize our attendance, then we share what we learned with each other.

3. When you enjoy a conference and find it worthwhile, spread the word! Let others in on what’s worthwhile about it. Give them publicity. We’re all in this together so help each other out.

4. We have a new goal for this conference. Since this is our third year, we wanted to do something special. Stay tuned to the Novel Clique blog for interviews with writer attendees at OWFI 2012.

5. Final evaluation: upon returning you need to do a final run down of the experience. Was the conference a good one for you? Just as you did when selecting a conference return to those important questions:

a. Location: Was the location good for you? Price certainly feeds into this these days because of the price of gas.

b. Genre: Did you find the things you needed for what you write? Were there agents who represent what you write?

c. Price: Consider the costs of everything from travel to hotel to food to cost of the conference. Was it cost-effective for you?

d. Presenters: Were the presenters good? Were they speaking about things of importance to you as a writer? Did you return with more than you left home with?

Once you’ve answered those questions you’ll know whether you want to attend that conference again or not. For us, after attending OWFI, all those answers were good ones.

What do you want to return from a conference having accomplished?

Be sure to check out Natasha’s post on what to do before the conference and Leatrice’s upcoming post on what to do during.


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Congrats to my critique partner, Natasha Hanova, on the publication of one of her short stories in the anthology, Undead Tales 2. Here’s to many more publishing credits to come!


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Green Energy

I have felt like a hybrid car desperately in need of a charge this winter. It seemed like no matter what I did, I could not get off the starting line to move forward in my writing. I’d parked in bad metaphor land. Maybe I attempted too much. I did NaNo while working on another novel and teaching college classes. Not exactly a sane undertaking.

Maybe I had lost my love for the craft. No, I still got excited about prose, just not mine. I was doing all the things I’d done before. I exercised regularly, and I ate right. I met with my writer’s group every week, and I forced my butt into the chair every day regardless of whether anything productive came out of it. And little did.

I understood underlying causes for my funk. My father’s ongoing health battles, my sons’ health issues and the oldest one’s upcoming court date (for anyone new to the blog, he didn’t do anything wrong-a shoplifter stabbed him.) were enough to keep me stressed. Trying to sell two houses, and buy a third, are adding to the insanity line we’re teetering across. Still, I’m a type A personality so this sort of thing usually doesn’t send me to the straitjacket. I finally realized I was worrying so much about why I was in the rut that I wasn’t able to get out of it. Anyone else ever do that?

We attend the Oklahoma Writer’s Federation, Inc. (OWFI) Conference every May, and there are contests associated with it. My writer’s group begins prepping our pieces for the contest in October and hope to have them ready to mail off by the mail deadline of February 1. Somewhere in January, I realized I had left my funk behind and hadn’t even thought about it. I’d been so busy and so focused on the contest entries that I had no time to worry about what had caused my writing rut. Now, my entries are all polished and ready to mail, and I’m ready to settle in for a winter of total content writing anything and everything I want. Not once will I think about why I quit for a time and wonder why.

How do you recharge your battery after a down time?

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Retreat Activity on Steroids

My critique group took a short retreat last weekend to a casino. No, we didn’t gamble. We didn’t even drink. Our full focus was on writing. We gathered in our (gratis) room and buckled down. I had purchased The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman, and he made me an instant fan. Eventually everyone bought the book so we decided when we took this excursion, we’d bring the book and work on the exercises he provides.

Everyone brought the first five pages of a WIP and Lukeman’s book, and we set to work. Our group is highly disciplined, but in this setting I didn’t expect that we would accomplish as much as we hoped. So much for low expectations. We nearly completed the book selecting the exercises possible in the limited time we had. (One exercise called for four hours which we knew would need to wait for another time.)

Noah’s book offers some advice that will strike the experienced writer as, “Well, duh.” However, even experienced writers make beginner mistakes in first drafts. It never hurts to remind yourself what you’re looking for when you go to revise. It also offers advice that writers wouldn’t know because they aren’t privy to the mindset of editors and agents.

Lukeman walks the walk in his book by keeping it short and concise. He makes his points and moves on. He covers everything from submission problems like presentation to big picture problems like characterization and pacing. He addresses common problems with language like clichés and excessive reliance on adjectives and adverbs. Through it all the tone is that of a professor who wants his student to succeed but won’t tolerate any skating on the important things. And, he reminds us, it’s all important.

For anyone on the submission track this is a must read. Take it seriously by keeping it close at hand when you’re working on your manuscript. Your future agent will thank you.


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