Got A Pleasant Surprise This Morning

It’s been a very long week, so I was happy to find a present waiting in my email inbox this morning. My second beta reader Beth sent me her suggestions. Being excited, I opened and read everything right away. I appreciate that she took the time to run down her suspect list chapter by chapter. I loved seeing how she perceived my subtle clues. Like Mike, she suggested point-of-view changes, improve pacing, and explain the killer(s) motivation more.

You guys have no idea how motivated I am to start tackling revisions now hee hee. But I’ll be good and patient by waiting on my last beta reader suggestions. In the meantime, I’ll jot down notes from Beth’s critique on how to change some of my scenes around.

Like I said before, any writer out there would benefit from hearing readers’ opinions before hiring an editor, sending out query letters, or hitting the publish button. It’s fascinating to send out the same rough draft to different people, then see how they each interpreted your story. Some will focus on story elements while others will comment on grammar and punctuation only. Some will give very detailed comments while others will write a summary. When combined altogether, you’ll get a full picture.

Once again, thanks Beth for taking the time out to help me. You’ll never know how much I appreciate it. I can’t wait to read your story; it’ll give me something to do for my very long week starting Tuesday. Long week means jury duty…

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

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Book Review: Scary Mary By S.A. Hunter

Mary just wants to be left alone, but the cheerleaders, jocks, and ghosts won’t stop harassing her. When new student  Cyrus starts school, he tries to befriend her. That’s a rare thing for the school freak, but her unusual abilities put a rift in their budding friendship when she has to tell him that his home is haunted and not by Casper, the friendly ghost.

I loved this 14 chapter book. I’m a fan of sarcastic sense of humor, plus it was creepy in some scenes. It gave me chills. S.A. Hunter has an amazing talent with description, especially metaphors and similes–very original. The scenes were vividly displayed on the page, so readers could picture it in their head. It read like a horror movie.

My favorite scenes were: 1) the seance/Ouija board at Cyrus’s house 2) when Mary and Cyrus first meet at school 3) the way Mary nonchalantly had conversations with ghosts in her school. I enjoyed that the female characters were strong and independent, that they didn’t wait for the men to come to the rescue. When Mary and her best friend Rachel went on the mission to do an exorcism, it reminded me of Harriet the Spy–paranormal edition.

The scenes that made me jump/ the creepiest parts: 1) the seance/Ouija board at Cyrus’s house 2) Ricky’s ghost was not playing around. He was out for vengeance, so whenever he appeared, he gave me goosebumps 3) when the girls try to sneak into the basement, and the ghost grabs Mary by the leg.

The school aspect was very realistic, and I felt bad that Mary was bullied by Kyle (Cyrus’s brother) and Vicky (a popular cheerleader). I don’t condone violence at all, but I’m always ecstatic when the outsider can one up the bullies. But is there a reason Kyle’s extra cranky and aggressive? You’ll have to read to find out. I liked how Mary and Cyrus’s relationship was blossoming, but then he got creeped out by her powers. I liked that he wasn’t automatically okay with it. It made for great tension within the story.

My favorite lines were: “Mary felt bad for ditching him, but when Vicky was involved, it was every reject for herself.”, “Oh, let time do all the dirty work. The perfect slacker revenge.” and “It was funny how saving a boy from danger didn’t guarantee him liking the girl. It always worked for the guy in the fairytales.”

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

For more information on the author or book:

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Day 60 of 90 Day Novel

I can’t believe it’s Day 60 already! Where did the time go? I’m still in the mindset of jotting down notes in the mornings then typing my scenes once I get home. The downside to that is I read part of my story before creating new scenes, which causes me to edit. A few days ago, I decided I didn’t like a scene in a particular character’s point of view, so I deleted it (YIKES!!!). I rewrote it in someone else’s perspective. Sure the story flows better now, but geeze louise, that set me back.

Right now, I finished with all the heavy-hitter scenes–basically the juicy plots. Now, I’m filling in the gaps with transitions and smaller plot points. I don’t know how far I’ll end up with word count at the end of 90 days, but I know I’ll have a completed first rough draft.

Even though writing is a passion of mine, I still believe in giving rewards/incentives to keep motivated. That’s why Melissa and I came up with the bright idea to have $1.99 margarita night at Las Trancas to celebrate reaching 40,000 words so far. The celebration happened to fall on Day 60 (only 30 more left. I wonder if the challenge will stay chill or get stressful like NaNo).

It was pretty fun. We laughed about how when we tell people our projects, they always think we’re in school because we talk about deadlines and word count. No, it isn’t homework. We joked a long time ago that we named our group The Procrastinators since if we didn’t give deadlines or projects, then we’d never start or finish anything hee hee. It’s just our way of keeping the momentum going.

More laugh out loud moments:

  • For some reason, Las Trancas has a kid’s menu for only children. No exceptions. Well, I’m a rebel at heart even though I’m not aggressive about it. I like to test my limits to see how much people will let me get away with. Not liking Mexican food, I wanted chicken tenders and fries off the kid’s menu. I stated this to Melissa, and she convinced the waiter to let me order it. He was hesitant at first, but no one can say no to a Leo’s charms hee hee. We joked that he risked his job for me, then gave me dirty looks throughout the meal.
  • This was my first time ever with a full drink. I guess I don’t only eat slow; I drink very slow as well. It was funny because the margarita glass would not empty. Maybe I took sips from the straw instead of gulps. I don’t know, but I honestly thought I’d never finish.

Who knows, maybe our conversation or events we witnessed weren’t really funny? Maybe it was the margaritas playing tricks on us? All I know is I giggled a lot, talked loudly even though I tried to whisper (an older gentleman with a mullet caught my attention), and had a good time.

I didn’t let the fact that I had jury duty the next morning ruin my night. Even though that was another thing to laugh about: my bad luck.

When I got home, I worked on my story. I’m still iffy on the characters’ names and a little disappointed that I don’t have any working titles yet. Hopefully, I’ll think of something soon.

For all the writers out there, do you give yourself rewards for finishing a project or deadline? What’s the most interesting one you gave yourself?

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Book Review: The Arrangement By Delaney Diamond

The Arrangement is the nineteenth book of my reading challenge. One day I wrote a guest post for Sharon C. Cooper’s blog, focusing on the reader’s perspective of a sex scene. I liked Delaney Diamond’s comment, so I wandered over to her site. Most of her book descriptions were up my alley, so I decided to give one of them a try. I’m happy I did because I’m a fan!

Here’s my thoughts:

Brazilian millionaire, Leonardo da Silva, is still seething from when his African-American wife, Alexa, walked out on him four months ago. Now she’s in his office asking for a business loan to help her brother. Instead of a loan, he’s willing to give her the money, but only if she resumes her role as his wife for the next two months. She reluctantly agrees, and she soon finds herself wishing their arrangement was permanent. But when she finds out about Leonardo’s betrayal, there may be no way for them to mend their broken marriage.

I loved this 9 chapter book. It hooked me from the very first opening scene all the way to the epilogue. Let me tell ya, this story was hot and steamy! I loved all the sexual tension from the main characters Leonardo (a.k.a. Leo) and Alexa. Yeah, he was probably a controlling jerk but I found myself keep giving him passes. In fact, he was my favorite character. I enjoyed knowing that he was still in love with her (in fact never stopped) while she had her doubts. The whole time I rooted for them to get over the misunderstanding. To communicate better. It was so sweet that Leo was attentive to Alexa’s needs after she expressed what he did wrong in the past. He worked on trying to fix the future because he couldn’t change the past.

Luckily they didn’t patch up their communication problem because that read for a very entertaining story. My favorite books are the ones who share more than one point-of-view; it allows the readers to know the character’s secrets, motives before the other characters. Like we’re in on a little secret.

The author Delaney Diamond has a brilliant talent for plot, voice, and basically overall description. The way she vividly described everything and kept the tension, action going  helped me get lost in the story, helped me get lost in the fantasy of it all. In fact, I read it while at a cafe and the lady near me asked what I was reading because I was intensely focused on it. After I told her what I’ve read so far, she said “Sounds juicy. Now, I see why you’re lost in it.” Did I mention all the steamy moments? I swear there may have been some drool coming out of my mouth hee hee.

I enjoyed their back and forth. My favorite lines were: “He still wanted her to the point of distraction, and despite acting as if she were being sentenced to the guillotine, he knew she wanted him too.”, “I don’t usually give orgasms to people I’m trying to get back at,” Leonardo said dryly.”, and “She had loved her husband, but it was clear she was only secondary in his life. His business was his real wife.”

After reading, I’m a huge fan of Delaney Diamond’s writing style, and I can’t wait to read more of her work. This story was definitely a fast read.

I RECOMMEND this book to read.

For more information on the book or the author:

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

Remembering September 11, 2001

A radio station posed an unique question: How did you spend the day before 9/11? How was your last normal day? To be honest, I have no clue. But I remember 9/11 like it was yesterday…

I was a 19 year old sophomore at West Virginia University, who was way over my head. It was my first time being a resident assistant and the school year was fairly new. I didn’t really know any of my kids yet, and it was hard to demand respect when I was only a year older than them; it’d be much easier and laidback if I was their friend instead.

Aaliyah had passed away only a few days before, so I was still grieving her loss. I was a huge fan of her music and liked her as a person. She seemed pretty cool and humble for a celebrity (we all know famous people can have quite the ego sometimes).

That morning I woke up and did my routine as usual. I hopped on the PRT and talked to my friend Josh. I went to my Ballroom class at the Coliseum, then got a ride with Nicole back to Summit Hall. She was an RA two floors below me. I ate breakfast in the cafeteria.  When I swiped my card, the lunch lady told me that two planes hit two towers. The way she mentioned it sounded like a tragic accident, so I didn’t think anything of it above feeling sad for all the victims and their families. As far as I knew, planes crash occasionally.

Afterward, me, Crystal, and Nicole (the only RAs in the building at the time) had an emergency meeting with our bosses. We were told of the terrorist attacks–now it clicked what the lunch lady meant–and told that the university wouldn’t hold it against students if they didn’t attend classes that day. We were told to be extra sensitive to the residents since most of them were from New Jersey and New York City, who could have lost family. I was in shock; we have training like this at the beginning of the year, but you never think that something will happen that you’ll have to exercise it.

The hallways were eerily quiet, except Aaron kept yelling “World War III!!!” off the balcony. He wouldn’t stop when I asked him to, so I got Crystal to act stern with him. She was better at confrontation than me. At the time, he was being an insensitive jerk, but he turned out to be one of my favorite residents throughout the year.

I had a message from my family, so I called them back, letting them know I was okay. I’m the type of person if I’m sad, I have to keep moving. Doesn’t matter what it is; I need distractions otherwise I’ll shut down. For me, the best thing I could do was attend the rest of my classes. Surprisingly, over half of the students made both classes. I came back to Summit and made sure to keep my door open, in case anyone needed to talk. I was helpful anyway I could think of, letting people borrow my phone, being a shoulder to cry on, etc.

Then I cried myself to sleep. The next morning, I woke up and began my same routine…

That’s how I spent my day on September 11, 2001. How did you spend yours?

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

“One By One” Update #1

Writers are taught to just listen in a critique group when it’s their turn. To just listen and take it all in. Don’t defend their work. So how do you respond when someone wants to sit down and discuss your project, requiring a back and forth interaction? Act scared? Run from it? Embrace it?

I chose to embrace the situation. I’m used to reading comments in the margins, but it couldn’t hurt to hear what my beta-reader had to say. I was nervous (hopefully Mike couldn’t tell I kept tapping my foot and fidgeting with my hands hee hee) but played it cool. By the end of the conversation, I was at ease.

I took his suggestions for improvements and his compliments all in. I’m looking forward to the challenge of some rewriting required to polish One By One. In fact, on my lunch break, I went to the library to outline new plots and motives, feeling motivated. Throughout the conversation, I was all smiles–which was weird to be happy about someone critiquing something personal of mine.

But I couldn’t stop thinking how awesome it was that Mike took time out of his busy schedule to do me a favor. He didn’t have to, especially since he did it for free. The fact that he took the time to not only write in the margins but also suggested the talk will always be cool beans in my book. His feedback was insightful and helped me realize some of the kinks I need to work out. I’d rather hear it at this stage instead of have an editor rip my story apart.

Things I need to work on:

  • Elaborate more on characters’ motives
  • Re-tweak some plot points so everything connects together
  • Pace myself and stay consistent
  • Etc, etc

Thanks again Mike for being my first beta-reader to return my story. Once I receive my other beta’s feedback, I’ll start revising and editing again. I guess my 90 Day Novel will have competition for my attention around that time.

For writers out there, I encourage you to interact with people taking the time to read your work, if you can. There’s nothing more valuable than getting to hear answers to specific questions you may have regarding story elements. For a chance to guide the critique instead of just relying on what someone wrote. And a chance to reveal apart of your writing style or routine to them, so they can understand you a little better.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby

The Personal And Business Side Of Writing

On Wednesday, my writing buddy and I attended a writing event at the Winchester public library. It was hosted by David Hazard, who is a big name in the publishing industry. He’s an author who has generously helped launch careers for other aspiring authors. His company Ascent provides coaching and support services for writers.

Thankfully, he didn’t boast about his career or try to sell his business to us. It was very refreshing to go to a writing event and actually learn something about the business. Since Mr. Hazard was so humble and willing to open up to us, it sparked my curiosity where I researched him on my own.

I’ll spread the love and share what he taught us that night (the lecture hall was packed).

PERSONAL SIDE OF WRITING

1.  Writers need inner-discipline. We have to hold our story ideas in high esteem. If we don’t believe in our books, then no one will.

2.  When writing, DO NOT MULTI-TASK!

3.  Create an open space in your life. Stop letting garbage clutter your mind, filling your brain with excuses on why you can’t write. Excuses are BS; you can do it.

4.  Retrain the people in your life so they understand how important your writing routine is. Guard your time when you view writing as a business.

5.  Always remember WHAT YOU’RE DOING IS IMPORTANT AND VALUABLE! Believe in yourself, don’t give in to self-doubt.

PUBLISHING

1.  Editors are always in need of new successful products (authors proposals/submissions) to fill a publishing house’s quota.

2.  Research publishing houses and agents that are a good fit for your book. Find the right home, someone interested in your work, so they can successfully sell your product. Don’t just send your book to anyone.

3.  DO HOMEWORK! There’s the Writer’s Market and Literary Market in libraries. Check company’s websites to compare how current those books are. Websites are more up-to-date with staff changes, new submission guidelines, etc.

4.  If you’re interested in a particular publishing house, read the books they publish. What’s the new edge your story offers? What’s different about your book? Publishers don’t want in house authors competing with one another.

5.  In order to get an agent or publishing house interested in picking up your novel, you need to “sale the sizzle, not the steak.” You need to create a hook to open up the imagination of your readers.

  • If you’re not clear on the intention you want to provide your readers, then you aren’t ready to submit any query letters. For the hook, you have to connect to your audience. To connect is to understand them. What do you share in common with your readers? Where do you want to take the readers? What will the book do for the readers?
  • Very few authors have universal readership. You need to pick your niche and stick to that target audience.

ONCE BOOK IS DONE–NOW TIME TO PRESENT IT

1.  Publishers want to know what the author will do to support their own book. The business side of being an author is to promote and support your work.

2.  Publishers want to know: why do you write? What do you write? Why did you choose that topic or genre? And your answer better not be “because I figure I’d make the most money this way”. They want to hear why you’re passionate about your subject, so they can create your author statement. They want to know what they’re selling to the world.

WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN PUBLISHER SAYS YES

1.  An editor and about 5 other people will review your product at a board meeting. You’ll need a cover letter, summary, sample of writing, etc. After the editing process is completed, the publisher will decide if they want to pursue the project or decline it. Is it worth selling your book? Will it make the company a profit?

  • You’re not asking someone to just support your dreams; you’re also asking them to invest a lot of money in you. Is your work worth the investment? If the answer is yes, you’ll receive a contract, sometimes an advance. Advance goes against your future royalties. Royalties are not calculated from the cover price (only the wholesale cost).
  • You get to keep your advance, and the company will be out of money if your book doesn’t sell. Royalties kick in after the publishing house receives their advance investment. It’s in their best interest to work for you, to get their money’s worth.

2.  Study the clauses–especially the fine print–of a contract VERY CAREFULLY! Find a lawyer to read it for you. Practice due diligence. With the business of writing, the author needs to be informed.

3.  Once you sign the contract, a team of people will support you and your novel. The marketing and promotional departments will gladly meet with you if you ask (but they won’t offer if you don’t ask), but leave the creative design department alone. They do not want to hear your input because they are trained to know what cover design, back cover blurb, etc. will entice the readers’ senses.

4.  The company wants you to be happy; however, they want your book to sell. You have to transfer trust at some point. They are professionals and know what they’re doing.

—-

David Hazard was so nice that he even offered to stay an extra 30 minutes to answer every question from the audience. There were a lot of questions about self-publishing. He was for self-publishing, which was refreshing to hear. He said as long as the product is of QUALITY and it’s edited by a professional, you have a chance at a publishing house being interested in you. Nowadays, they browse the internet looking for the next big thing. If they see you have a quality product and you’ve had at least 1,000 book sales, you’re on the right track. He also mentioned if you start out one way, you don’t have to stay on that track throughout your career. For instance, if you became a self-publisher, it doesn’t mean the door will always be closed for the traditional route. If you chose the traditional route, it doesn’t mean you can’t become a self-publisher down the line.

Keep smiling,

Yawatta Hosby