Vlog: 4 Tips for Keeping Yourself Accountable

Keeping yourself accountable is pretty essential when working on a project as a big as a book. So today I'm sharing four tips I use to keep myself on track.



RELATED VLOGS:


What do you do to keep yourself accountable? 

Twitter-sized bite: 
Author @Ava_Jae shares 4 ways to keep yourself accountable while writing your book. #vlog (Click to tweet

Fixing the First Page Giveaway #38!

Photo credit: mr.throk on Flickr
How in the world are we nearly halfway through August? I'm honestly stunned at how quickly this summer has flown by and how I'm transitioning into an incredibly busy three weeks. But that said! The date being what it is means it's time for the next Fixing the First Page giveaway! Yay!

For those who’ve missed before, the Fixing the First Page features is a public first 250 word critique. Using the lovely rafflecopter widget, anyone interested in winning a public (as in, featured in a post on this blog) first page critique can enter.

For an example of what this critique will look like, here's the last Fixing the First Page post.

Rules!

  • ONLY the first 250 words will be critiqued (up to finishing the sentence). If you win and send me more, I will crop it myself. No exceptions.

  • ONLY the first page. I don’t want 250 random words from your manuscript, or from chapter 3. If you win the critique and send me anything other than the first 250 words of your manuscript, I will choose someone else.

  • I will actually critique it. Here. On the blog. I will say things as nicely as I can, but I do tend to be a little blunt. If you’re not sure you can handle a public critique, then you may want to take some time to think about it before you enter.

  • Genre restrictions. I'm most experienced with YA & NA, but I will still accept MG and Adult. HOWEVER. If your first page has any erotic content on it, I ask that you don’t enter. I want to be able to post the critique and the first 250 in its entirety without making anyone uncomfortable, and if you win and you enter a page with erotic content, I will choose someone else.

  • You must have your first page ready. Should you win, you need to be able to submit your first page within 48 hours of my contacting you to let you know you won. If 48 hours pass and I haven’t heard from you, again, I will choose someone else.

  • You’ll get the most out of this if it isn’t a first draft. Obviously, I have no way of knowing if you’re handing me a first draft (though I will probably suspect because it’s usually not that difficult to tell). I won’t refuse your page if it’s a first draft, but you should know that this critique will likely be of more use if you’ve already had your betas/CPs look over it. Why? Because if you don’t, the critique I give you will probably contain a lot of notes that your betas & CPs could have/would have told you.

  • There will not be a round 2 (unless you win again in a future contest). I hate to have to say this, but if you win a critique, it’s NOT an invitation to send me a bunch of your revisions. I wish I had the time available to be able to look at revisions, but sadly, I don’t. If you try to break this rule, I will nicely say no, and also remember to choose someone else should you win a second contest. Which would make me sad. :(

So that’s it! If you’re okay with all of the above and would like to enter to be the thirty-seventh public critique on Writability, do the thing with the rafflecopter widget below. You have until Monday, August 21 at 11:59 PM EST to enter!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

POV (Should) Influence Every Word

Photo credit: chefalfalfa on Flickr
While working on freelancing projects as of late, I've been thinking a lot about POV, and all the things a well-done immersive POV entails. When I first began writing, I thought POV was about focus—as in, the POV character was the character you had to focus on most in your writing, but that was about it. I knew, on paper, that you were supposed to "step into their shoes" so-to-speak, but I don't think I really knew what that meant until many years later when I began working with a critique partner who is truly excellent at writing immersive character perspectives.

When said critique partner pointed out to me, in an old work of mine, that I was using rather flowery language for an allo cishet non-artsy teen boy perspective, it sort of blew my mind. Because I realized, for the first time, that character perspective affects literally every word.

Your character perspective changes:

  • what words and phrases are used to describe things.
  • what readers know about the world, surroundings, and other characters. 
  • what readers see in any given scene. 
  • what readers think about other characters or various situations. 

The perspective, in other words, pretty much makes the story. 

That's why it's so important to really hone in on our characters' POVs. We need to understand the way they think, the way they speak, the way they feel even when they're trying to hide it, what they care about, what they look at, etc. It really does come down to asking ourselves, "would my perspective character use this word?" or "would my perspective character notice this?" There isn't a single part of the story that perspective doesn't affect in some way, and that's essential to remember. 

While it's not something I think you need to worry about too extensively while first drafting, it is definitely important to check—again, and again, and again—while revising. Because readers will notice when a perspective doesn't really fit a character, and long before that, not paying enough attention to perspective will limit your ability to deepen a story and make your characters truly feel memorable and real. 

Do you step into your characters' shoes when writing?

Twitter-sized bite:
Author @Ava_Jae says POV should influence every word in your WIPs. What do you think? (Click to tweet

Vlog: Surprise Reveal: ARCs!

A couple weeks ago when I mentioned I had an announcement, one of you asked if it was a cover reveal. And then I remembered I'd failed to post a cover reveal here. And then I got special mail... :)




RELATED LINKS:

Book Review: THE GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE by Mackenzie Lee

Photo credit: Goodreads
I don't read a whole lot of historical (that is to say, I pretty near never read historical), so I'll admit when I first heard about The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue I was really intrigued but also hesitant because...I don't usually like historical.

But in the end, the premise was just too fantastic to pass up, and every snippet I peeked at made me want it more. And I'm so glad I gave Gentleman's Guide a shot because it immediately jumped onto my favorites list.

But before I go on, here's the Goodreads summary:
"Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men. 
But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy. 
Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores."
Firstly, this book was hilarious. Monty's voice is so captivating and fun from the first page to the last—I found myself smiling instantly and I pretty much didn't stop until the end (you know, minus some emotional parts). I loved Monty's reckless view of the world and all the situations he put himself in—then the way he handled them and thought about them had me literally laughing out loud in places.

I also loved the representative aspects involved. While I can't speak to most of them from personal experience, it was really cool to see not only a queer protagonist (Monty is bisexual), but his best friend is biracial and there's some really in-depth discussion about chronic illness that I could relate to and really appreciated. I have zero complaints about how Lee handled the chronic illness discussion, which becomes a pretty big part of the book, and there were moments that I certainly found myself nodding along to.

Honestly, this is the first time I've seen a chronically ill character in YA in a book that wasn't specifically about illness, and it was really, really awesome to see, even while the illness was vastly different from my own.

So between the representative stuff, the kick-ass plot, and Monty's pitch-perfect voice, I absolutely loved every page of this book, and I can't recommend it enough to others. It really just made me so ridiculously happy to read and I'm delighted to see how successful it's been.

Diversity note: The protagonist, Monty, is bisexual, and his best friend is biracial. There's also a pretty intensive discussion of chronic illness throughout.

Twitter-sized bite:
.@Ava_Jae gives ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ to THE GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE by Mackenzie Lee. Is this fun YA on your TBR? (Click to tweet)

Vlog: Discussion: What Are Your Favorite Books?

It's time for another discussion vlog! Let's talk your favorite books from different genres. Sound off in the comments below!



RELATED LINKS:


What are your favorite books from different genres? 

Twitter-sized bite:
What are you favorite books? Join the discussion on @Ava_Jae's blog. (Click to tweet

Fixing the First Page Feature #37

Photo credit: gwen on Flickr
Somehow, August is nearly here—something I can't quite wrap my head around, in large part because August is a huge transitional month for me. But that said! The end of July is nigh which means it's time for the next Fixing the First Page critique!

As usual, I'll start by posting the full first 250 excerpt, after which I'll share my overall thoughts, then my redline critique. I encourage you guys to share your own thoughts and critiques in the comments (because I'm one person with one opinion!), as long as it's polite, thoughtful, and constructive. Any rude or mean comments will be unceremoniously deleted.
Let's go!

Title: DIA DE MUERTOS (working title)

Genre/Category: YA Paranormal

First 250 words:

"The veil between the living and the dead has always fascinated me and is much thinner than you might think. My mother spoke often of this doorway, especially at the end of October during Dia de Muertos, the time of year when our deceased loved ones return to the world of the living for a short time. We welcome them back with altars filled with photos, marigolds, incense and their favorite foods and drink.

I always imagined the veil to be something I could feel, like fine silk slipping through my fingers. One day I told her this, and she laughed kindly.

'No, Lana, it isn’t an actual curtain. No one can see it or feel it.'
'Then how do we know it exists?'
'Faith,' was all she said.

But she turned out to be wrong because the time came when I could see the veil. Eventually I could also touch it with enough concentration. Far more beautiful than I had imagined, it was silvery, gossamer and soft with a pattern so intricate I don’t possess the words to describe it properly. I’ve often wondered what would happen if I tried to cross over. Would I be able to make it back since I’m still alive?

There’s no one to ask.

Neither of my parents know I have this gift. After what my mom told me, I don’t think she’d believe me. Then I might end up no longer believing and fear I’d lose this ability. So for now, it’s my secret."

Okay, interesting! I think this is the first First Page critique I've had with a Latinx protagonist, so yay. :)

Annnyway! First thing I noticed is actually the title, and the holiday name which you use in the sample—I'm not 100% sure (I will be the first to tell you my Spanish grammar is atrocious), but isn't it Dia de los Muertos? I'm pretty sure "Dia de Muertos" would translate to "Day of Dead" which is missing an article (the). When I looked it up online, Dia de los Muertos seemed to be the default. Just a minor note!

As for my overall thoughts, this is an interesting opening and sets up the mood well...but it's all exposition. And those last three paragraphs in particular involve the protagonist telling the reader what she can do, but it'd be much more effective to see it in action. Expository openings aren't necessarily an automatic no (I actually start Into the Black with some exposition ¯\_(ツ)_/¯) but it does require careful balancing and right now this feels too exposition-heavy to me. At the very least, I'd like to see her doing something while thinking about the other side—maybe they're actually having a Dia de los Muertos celebration? That could be interesting. Or maybe something else, but I want to see her in motion even as she thinks about these things. 

Okay, now on to the line edits! 

"The veil between the living and the dead has always fascinated me and is much thinner than you'd might think. Adjusted to cut down on wordiness and condense to the heart of the sentence. My mother spoke often of this doorway, especially at the end of October during Dia de los Muertos, the time of year when our deceased loved ones return to the world of the living for a short time. We welcome them back with altars filled with photos, marigolds, incense and their favorite foods and drink.

I always imagined the veil to be something I could feel, like fine silk slipping through my fingers. One day I told her this, and she laughed kindly.

'No, Lana, it isn’t an actual curtain. No one can see it or feel it.'
'Then how do we know it exists?'
'Faith,' was all she said.

But she turned out to be was wrong because the time came when after a while I could see the veil. Eventually I could also touch it with enough concentration. Far more beautiful than It had imagined, it was silvery, gossamer and soft with a beautifully pattern so intricate I don’t possess the words to describe it properly. I’ve often wondered wWhat would happen if I tried to cross over?. Most of the cuts I've suggested so far have been to decrease wordiness, but this one in particular was to remove filtering (wondered). Would I be able to make it back since I’m still alive?

There’s no one to ask.

Neither of my parents know I have this gift. After what my mom told me, I don’t think she’d believe me. Then I might end up no longer believing and fear I’d lose this ability. So for now, it’s my secret."

Cool! So as you can see, by far my largest line editing comment is to be careful with wordiness—I find it helps if you read your work aloud, because it's often easier to feel when a sentence is crowded with too many words when it's spoken. Just make sure you ask yourself with every sentence whether you're saying something in ten words that you could say in seven or five. :)

Suggestions aside, I am still intrigued so if I saw this in the slush, I'd keep reading. But I'd personally give it maybe a page or two more before I lost patience with the exposition sooo...just saying. ;)

I hope that helps! Thanks for sharing your first 250 with us, Jennifer!

Twitter-sized bite:
.@Ava_Jae talks wordiness, exposition and more in the 37th Fixing the First Page Feature. (Click to tweet)
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...