Monday, September 30, 2013

MMGM Links (9/30/13)

One day,  guys.

ONE. 

DAY. 

UNTIL EXILE RELEASES!!!! 

I am so excited--and I can't believe it's almost here--or that I'm already on tour--or that I'm still in the deadline cave! (yes, things are SUPER HECTIC right now).

So clearly I have no MMGM. But I do have links.

But first--a few reminders. Today is the LAST day to claim your swag in my pre-order giveaway. If you pre-ordered EXILE and you haven't filled out THIS FORM, you better get on that by midnight tonight. Also, if you live in the midwest and want to come hang out with me, click HERE for all the dates/times/places you can find me.

Also, make sure you check back tomorrow because I have a VERY AWESOME contest starting and you won't want to miss out.

Okay, I think that covers all the shamelessly self promotional updates--on to the links!*
- Birdie Reader joins the MMGM fun with a feature on THE GOLDEN COMPASS. Click HERE to welcome them to the group! 
- Michael Gettel-Gilmarten is haunted by DOLL BONES. Click HERE to see what he thought.  
- Susan Olson is talking about ODESSA, AGAIN. Click HERE to see her review 
- Greg Pattridge is showcasing BECAUSE OF WINN DIXIE. Click HERE to see what he thought. 
Rosi Hollinbeck is cheering for MISTER MAX: THE BOOK OF LOST THINGS--with a GIVEAWAY! Click HERE for details.    
- 9-year-old Lucy has chills for MY SISTER THE VAMPIRE. Click HERE to see what she thought. 
-  Fleur Bradley is rooting for ESCAPE FROM MR. LIMONCELLO'S LIBRARY. Click HERE to see why. 
- Andrea Mack is delighted with MONEY HUNGRY. Click HERE to see why. 
- Jennifer Rumberger is feeling THREE TIMES LUCKY. Click HERE to read her feature.  
- Sheri Larsen is highlighting EVERTASTER: THE BUTTERSMITHS' GOLD. Click HERE for her review.
- Maria Selke is the first stop on THE REAL BOY blog tour. Click HERE for all the fun. 
- Sue Heavenrich is the first stop on the DARLING, MERCY DOG OF WW1 blog tour. Click HERE to learn more. 
- Dorine White discovers GUYS READ OTHER WORLDS . Click HERE to see what she thought. 
- Laurisa White Reyes has fond memories of REMEMBER DIPPY. Click HERE for her review. 
- Media Sharif is dramatically in love with DRAMA. Click HERE to read her feature. 
- Michelle Isenhoff is championing the FABLEHAVEN series. Click HERE to see why.  
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time! 
- Pam Torres always has an MMGM up on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's spotlighting this week.
- Deb Marshall is a MMGM regular. Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week. 
- Joanne Fritz always has an MMGM for you. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week. 
- The Mundie Moms are always part of the MMGM fun (YAY!). Click HERE to see their newest recommendations. And if you aren't also following their Mundie Kids site, get thee over THERE and check out all the awesome!    
- The lovely Shannon O'Donnell always has an MMGM ready for you! Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week.

If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count--but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you're featuring and a link to your blog at SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com. (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so I see it)

NOTE: I used to not have a cut-off time for adding links to the post, but with how insane my schedule is right now, if you don't email me by Sunday evening (usually around 11pm PST is when I put the links together) I can't guarantee I'll have a chance to add you. BUT, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you!


*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen posts ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me ahead of time

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

On Sequels

Any of you who witnessed the pathetic amount of whining I did last year know that writing sequels is ... rather hard. (okay, fine, if you follow me on Twitter you've seen me back to whining again)

I'm sure there are a few lucky authors who breeze right through them, but most of the authors I know STRUGGLE. Especially with book 2s. But honestly, I'm working on a book 3 right now and it's fighting me every step of the way. And I think I've finally figured out WHY.

I've already done some musing on this subject in a post I wrote last year, after I'd survived my first "book 2."  And at the time I wrote that post, I thought I knew what had made that process so difficult. But while all of those things definitely ARE a big part of the challenge, as I've continued to write sequels I've realized that I'd only begun to understand what made the process so excruciating. It wasn't until my husband made me watch a sequel to a movie that I'd been specifically resisting--without really knowing why--that I FINALLY figured it out.

Here's the thing:

For the most part, at the end of a book, the characters are in a "good" place. Things aren't perfect--and obviously there's more story to tell. But unless it's by one of those evil authors who ends on a ginormous cliffhanger with no sense of closure at all, the characters and the world have all ended at a point where readers can be mostly satisfied to let it rest--for a while, at least. 

And then ...  everything falls apart again in the sequel. 

THAT'S why I'd been resisting seeing that particular movie. I didn't *want* to watch everything get ruined again. Especially since I had very specific FEARS and HOPES and EXPECTATIONS based on what I already knew of the story. And honestly, I feel the same way when I read most sequels. There's always that moment of, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! when everything falls apart, and I have to fight the urge to skip to the last pages to see if things are going to work out okay.  And sure, you can have that feeling with a "book 1" as well, but I personally think it's especially painful when it's characters you're already attached to and have already gone on a journey with. 

And yet, the bad things *have* to happen in the next books, otherwise the story is going to be really boring--plus problems always get worse before they get better. So really, what you need to do as an author when you write a sequel is work extra hard to establish TRUST between you and your readers. You have to find a way to assure them that even though you're going to break their hearts in certain ways, it's still worth going along for the ride. And that is NOT an easy thing to do. 

I know this is the point where you're probably hoping I'll give you some sort of magical formula that will make it sequel writing easy. Sadly, I'm not sure that exists. But I can tell you what *I* finally decided to do, and it has helped me a little. 

I've read a LOT of sequels lately (writing is reading, after all) and I've noticed a pattern in the ones I thought were done best. They all had these moments in the plot where I started to think, "Noooooooo, PLEASE tell me the author isn't going to do THAT!!!"And then... the author DIDN'T do it. The love triangle I was fearing. The brutal death I'd been praying wouldn't happen. Whatever my WORST fears were did get hinted at enough to make me start to worry that the story was heading that way. And then, the author went a totally different way. An equally brutal way at most times--but somehow it felt less painful because it was a surprise.

I think that technique is effective for three reasons: 
1) Playing upon reader expectations is a surefire way to build killer tension 
2) When you go a completely different way, it keeps the reader guessing and keeps the plot fresh and unpredictable 
3) When you *don't* do what the reader is fearing, it helps them to TRUST you, and stick around when you put them through all the horrible evil things they never saw coming (have I mentioned writers are evil?) 
So THAT has become my goal when I build the plots for my sequels. I try and figure out what I think readers are going to fear most as I go into the story (which isn't that hard to do. Usually it's all the same things I fear) and then I try to shape the plot in a way that makes them wonder if I'm going to go that way. And right when it's starting to look like, "oh noes--SHE IS!" I go a different route instead.

It's NOT an easy thing to do and it hurts my brain a lot (like, a LOT, lot) but I get SUPER gleeful when I get messages from my beta readers saying things like, "If thing X happens I am NEVER SPEAKING TO YOU AGAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!" followed a bit later by, "Oh, good, we can still be friends--BUT WAIT, WHAT DO YOU MEAN THEY HAVE TO DEAL WITH THING Y???????" so hopefully that means I pulled it off. I guess I won't know for sure until my sequels are out there in the wild (which in EXILE's case is only one week away now--holy cow, how did that happen???).

But I thought I'd throw this info out there anyway, in case it's helpful to any of you. If nothing else, maybe it'll explain why you see me whining about sequels so very very much, and why I disappear down the drafting rabbit hole and struggle so much as I fight my way back out. And why I eat so many cupcakes. That's the best writing advice of all. EAT MORE CUPCAKES.

*places an emergency cupcake order and goes back to drafting KEEPER 3*

Monday, September 23, 2013

MMGM Links (10/23/13)

One week till EXILE's release, and I leave for tour in a few days, so things are a TAD too crazy to put together an MMGM. But here are the links.

And remember, you can find my EXILE tour dates--and a swag giveaway with 100 winners--by clicking HERE

Okay--on to the links!*
- Rosi Hollinbeck is spreading some love for... *MEEP*...EXILE--with A GIVEAWAY!!! Click HERE to see what she thought. 
- Hannah Martian joins the MMGM fun with a feature on UNITED WE SPY. Click HERE to see her review.
- Michael Gettel-Gilmarten sees nothing rotten about MY ROTTEN LIFE. Click HERE to see what he thought.  
- Jennifer Rumberger is cheering for ELLIE MCDOODLE: HAVE PEN, WILL TRAVEL  Click HERE to learn more about it.
- Susan Olson has chills for THE RETURN OF THE INDIAN. Click HERE to see her review 
- Kimberly Griffiths Little has the cover reveal for author Amie Borst's new book. Click HERE to see the shiny.  
- Greg Pattridge has chills for DEAD END. Click HERE to see what he thought. 
- Mark Baker is highlighting MRS. PIGGLE WIGGLE. Click HERE to see what he thought.
- Dorine White has a $50 book blast for The Emerald Ring. Click HERE for all the details. 
- Media Sharif is rooting for ANASTASIA KRUPNIK. Click HERE to read her feature. 
-  Fleur Bradley is championing TREASURE HUNTERS. Click HERE to see why.
- Michelle Mason is sweet on THE SINISTER SWEETNESS OF SPLENDID ACADEMY. Click HERE to see why.  
- Karen Yingling also always has some awesome MMGM recommendations for you. Click HERE to which ones she picked this time! 
- Pam Torres always has an MMGM up on her blog. Click HERE to see what she's spotlighting this week.
- Deb Marshall is a MMGM regular. Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week. 
- Joanne Fritz always has an MMGM for you. Click HERE to see what she's talking about this week. 
- The Mundie Moms are always part of the MMGM fun (YAY!). Click HERE to see their newest recommendations. And if you aren't also following their Mundie Kids site, get thee over THERE and check out all the awesome!    
- The lovely Shannon O'Donnell always has an MMGM ready for you! Click HERE to see what she's featuring this week.

If you would like to join in the MMGM fun, all you have to do is blog about a middle grade book you love (contests, author interviews and whatnot also count--but are most definitely not required) and email me the title of the book you're featuring and a link to your blog at SWMessenger (at) hotmail (dot) com. (Make sure you put MMGM or Marvelous Middle Grade Monday in the subject line so I see it)

NOTE: I used to not have a cut-off time for adding links to the post, but with how insane my schedule is right now, if you don't email me by Sunday evening (usually around 11pm PST is when I put the links together) I can't guarantee I'll have a chance to add you. BUT, you are welcome to add your link in the comments on this post so people can find you!


*Please note: these posts are not a reflection of my own opinions on the books featured. Each blogger is responsible for their own MMGM content and I do not pre-screen posts ahead of time, nor do I control what books they choose. I simply assemble the list based on the links that are emailed to me ahead of time