Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Path to Submission with Marisa Sciarappa and Her Upcoming Novel "Taking Flight"

Marisa Sciarappa On the YA Horizon

     Assumptions are where we often get into to trouble as writers. Yes, we create, we strive to bring something special to people who read our work. The goal is to do something different that both enlightens and entertains our readers. In some cases, it’s to try and make a difference. To try to let others know, they are not alone that we can relate to their pain or have  experienced it ourselves.
     Marisa is a slender sweet, attractive young woman, whose writing is both powerful and moving. Before reading parts of her novel, called "Taking Flight" I have to admit I had made certain assumptions. Always kind, friendly and outgoing she is a natural, at being positive. In fact, the complete depth she has brought to her story showed me a wisdom and caring beyond her years. We see what we want to see. It was not until our interview that I felt like I as a person had a better understanding of just who she was. What she has to offer the literary world. Her writing style is different, filled with heart and layers of deep emotion that draw you into her story. You want to understand, and know what is going to happen to her characters.
      Her story deals with the serious issue of teenage depression, suicide, and vampires. Not what one would expect in a YA paranormal book but what you get is a work that is more than surface deep. In checking, I found that there aren’t many stories dealing with or touching on such a serious subject that still plagues our society. Nonfiction yes, but far too few that  capture the emotional roller coaster and internal torment that teens can experience.
      I found myself awed by the depth & sensitivity of her work. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Marisa professionally for several years through the Ocean County Library. I consider myself fortunate that she was willing to discuss her upcoming book called “Taking Flight” a paranormal work of YA fiction that is currently going through her final edits in preparation for submission to a publisher. For now her plan is to submit to publishers open to dealing directly with authors.
      A recent graduate of Stockton University, she obtained her Bachelor’s degree and is intending to pursue her Masters in Library Science. Serious about her craft, she is someone worth watching for on the YA horizon. With a fiancĂ©, job, and finishing up her novel you can see she radiates happiness.
     During our interview, she laughingly told me that she has dreamed of writing since she first picked up her pencil in elementary school. She then had lost interest for a few years and stopped not taking up her pen again until middle school. Marisa had her first real inklings that she wanted to be a writer while in high school.
     One of the biggest motivations that drew her towards knowing this was the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling’s. Smiling down at her tea, she admits “I love her writing.” She is also a fan of Sylvia Platt, James Joyce, Susan Collins, and Virginia Wolf to name a few.
     Not unlike many others writers six years ago she started writing the story that had been forming inside her head. Feeling that driving compulsion to get it out. One of the biggest issues, Marisa explained was procrastination, when she was in school she found she only wrote on her breaks. It wasn't until after taking a workshop group that she found the motivation to write and complete the first draft.
     Another tool she used to reach her goal was ( participating the in National Novel Writing Month in November. Committing to getting 50,000 words in print she met her goal and finished with 100,000 words in total. It allowed her to track how much she wrote on a daily basis. Other sites that are writer friendly & help with setting goal are scribeophile, and Aeon Timeline. It is a great way to get feedback on your work from other writers fighting the same fight.
     I asked Marisa what was one of the many challenges she faced?
     Thinking about this for a moment she paused before answering. “Going through the editing process. Editing becomes an even greater challenge when writing in the first person. You have to think about the “I’s” and how they fit in.”
Marisa & her Fiance CJ
     Her advice to other writers out there struggling to get that first book on paper. “Just write what you have and don’t stress until you’re in the editing process. Don’t be afraid to write about tough subjects or to take ownership. Write with your heart and put your all into it!”
     Finishing up our interview we picked up our empty cups and pushed in our chairs. Giving me her infectious smile once again she gave me one parting piece of advice,

“For anyone struggling with writing there is always hope in the end. As long as you put your mind on a positive goal you will get there.” 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Devil in the White City in Review

By Erik Larson

This book is outside of my normal wheelhouse. In general I tend to stay away from nonfiction books, one because I get bored easily with them and second it’s often about the perspective or view of the writer. When this book was recommended to me I was honestly intrigued both with the premise of the story and idea. In fact I found myself double checking to confirm that this was a nonfiction book. 
     Rarely do we find good story tellers in nonfiction. What Erik Larson has been able to do, however, is create a beautiful and informative story about the history of the 1893 World’s Fair along with the rabid killing spree of Dr. H.H. Holmes. All within the same city? 
World's Fair 1983
     If history were written like this perhaps more people would be open to it. I could not put this down, he not only shows us step by step the madness of a killer, but also the details in creating and making the World’s Fair. Surprisingly he also lets us see glimpses of the start of the great depression and the many struggles that were faced from both sides. 
     Larson takes nonfiction to a new level, and this book I have to give a high recommendation. Don’t wait to read this. A gifted and talented writer Larson takes what could be viewed as boring subject material and breaths unbelievable life into it making it a page-turner you won’t want to put down. This is a five plus star book that is well worth checking out. 

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Stop Torturing Yourself When You Edit

Final Edit-Make it Fun

Temptation can be a good thing.
     Editing a book can be boring, especially when you self-publish like I do. I know there are some authors out there who may disagree with me on this, but I’ve found this to be helpful and fun. When it comes to the final edits, you do before sending your manuscript off to the publisher or press.
     Invite some friends over and make it a night, I usually will try for six friends that I know are into reading and are good at catching typo’s and grammar issues that sometimes get missed. Let’s face it no one is perfect and you can show three people the same sentence and get three totally different opinions on what is grammatically correct. Give each a highlighter and let them go through it.
      Order pizza or have desert. I usually will do coffee tea and desert. Everyone will get two to three chapters and get to read through their sections. A different pair of eyes can catch something your eyes may glide right over. To be honest think about it, when you go through the editing process you read and re-read your book at least four to five times. Keep it interesting and fun, another plus is you get to spend some time with friends who have your back and will be honest.

     Some of the most important changes I’ve ever made happened because someone caught something after the editing process. You can’t blame your editor they’ve done their part. It’s your story, and those last minute tweaks can mean the difference between a so-so book and something that makes you truly proud.  I’m fortunate enough to have some wonderful friends who are willing to give their time and like getting a sneak peak.
     As a writer, it can be fun, allowing  you get a bird’s eye view to people’s reactions to your writing. You can see what is working and what might not be.

     So when you hit that point before you submit to a publisher or upload your book for the world to see call a couple of friends. Buy some cupcakes or food and have a get together to do one final read through. You’ll be glad you did.

Look for the second article on new unpublished authors to follow in my next post. Happy writing, and a special thank you to my friends who came out tonight to read through my latest book and help with the final editing.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Road to Publication With Shane Press and The Pathkeeper Chronicles

Shane Press and The Pathkeeper Chronicles

Authors write for a myriad of reasons, today the industry is ever changing, evolving. Between Indie writers self-publishing, and traditional authors utilizing agents and publishing houses the market is flooded with new authors every day. No one can deny that the market is dynamic, and the smart publishing houses are altering their marketing to meet the needs of their clients. This series is dedicated to the unpublished authors out there. Those who struggle every day to get their words down on paper. Men and women whose idea’s and journey of where they want their story to go can often change midstream, leaving them facing roadblocks that they must overcome.
The goal is to help new and unpublished authors see the struggles their peers go through during their process. The decisions, expenses, and hard work involved in how different people bring a book to market for the public. If you have a question you would like to have answered, or think would be helpful please email me through and I will help find answers for you.
The series begins with author Shane Press, to follow is the interview we had where I was able to ask some pointed questions about his process in writing. Which path he intends to go and how he found his niche. I was fortunate enough to meet with Shane Press and his fiancĂ© Theresa over breakfast at “Shut Up and Eat” in Toms River, New Jersey. He was willing to discuss his process and what does and doesn’t work for him.
Shane’s current project is tentatively titled "The Pathkeeper Chronicles, is subtitled: Rise of a Warrior". The novel is a Sci-fi saga about a society of Lizard like characters he came up with as a kid while playing D&D.  His demeanor becomes animated as he speaks about his character Shiff, and how he developed into what he is today. That is one of the things about Shane that I found fascinating over the course of our interactions; he was thoughtful and passionate about his writing one could say a breath of fresh air.
Writing and rewriting parts when he isn't happy with them, he will painstakingly work until it develops into a flowing chapter. We all do this in different ways, but having been allowed to read his writing I can honestly say that his hard work leave the reader  with something special.
I look forward to the completion of his first novel in the series. The writing itself is brilliant, drawing the reader into a world that is uniquely different from many sci-fi books of this nature. It is little wonder that his favorite authors are Tolkien and John Green. Tolkien for his brilliance as a writer and John Green for both his writing and his use of his celebrity for inspiration and altruistic endeavors. Simply put he gives back, in a positive way and not due to a personal agenda.
     Shane’s writing style is not unlike Tolkien’s in that his story has the potential to become something truly epic and beautiful. Right away as a reader I was drawn in, wanting to read more. He showed me his world in such a subtle way that it is immediately comfortable and welcoming. I wanted to be a part of that world, the world of the “Drakna” who were servants of the gods, a society of Lizard like characters.
How do his characters differ?
“Mine is humanoid Velociraptors they aren't vegetarian, or just carnivores, and they are not cold blooded. You won’t find them in the swamp. I wanted to make them distinct. No boobs." he jokes,  "I hate how a lot of guys give them breasts, dinosaurs didn't have breasts, and lizards don’t.” He laughs briefly shaking his head his humor apparent as he speaks.
“Feathers, distinguish the sexes. The females have feathers either on the crown or neck and shoulders and the males don’t.”
I asked him, “Where he found inspiration for his writing,” Pausing he looked down at the table gathering his thoughts.
“I don’t find inspiration in one place, I keep a notepad on me and I write down ideas as they come. Movies, games, music trailer music from groups like “Two Steps from Hell”. Sometimes in music like that I can write out a scene.” He laughs when he says this, fidgeting in his chair. “I’m ADD so staying focused at times is hard.”
Changing the subject, I asked if he followed a deadline when he wrote like some authors will do. Giving me a big smile, his answer was almost shy.
“Deadlines, nothing hard, or feels like a deadline. Although there have been times, it did help.”
Relaxing back in his chair, he grins.
“I’d like to get it done before my obituary though.” Turning more serious he continues.
 “I would like to get it done before I turn thirty.”
“Do you think it's easier today to be a writer?” I ask watching him. He and Theresa share a glance and a smile before he answers. I can tell they've discussed this already before he answers.
“Yes, because if you have something to say there are many ways to say it, blogs, podcasts, writing. There are more opportunities to have a positive influence on the world. Being successful at it though is harder. The quality of the work just doesn't seem to be their today.”
At this point Theresa answers, smiling.
“Today it doesn't have to be good it has to make money.”
One of the things Shane was clear on was his desire to go the traditional route. Very determined he indicated he was aiming to make his book appeal to the YA and Scholastic market.
    “I’m already looking into Writers House Agency, and hope to publish through Tor Publishing.” Thoughtful for a moment he adds.
“There are a lot of IF’s in this business but I feel for me the potential to earn a living makes it worth the higher % that go to the agents and publishers. It’s worth it! There are a lot of pro’s and con’s either way but for me that’s the direction I want to try to go first.”
“So what advice would you give other writers out there struggling like yourself to get that first novel written?”
     Shane smiles, his dark brown eyes sparkling. “Just Shut up and write, its advice I should follow.”
      Shane Press is one of many writers out there following a dream. What makes him special, he has the courage to do it. Good bad or indifferent he is writing. At the conclusion of this interview as we parted company I was reminded that sometimes the most incredible stories come from the journeys we take in our lives. Shane is taking his journey living and writing with a loving supportive partner. Some journeys need to be taken with the right person by your side and he is off to a great start.  

Its More then Just a Dream

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As a recently married 46 year old I am in the process of finishing my degree. Working to take care of my family and live my life.Blogging, working, writing, and chugging along like most of us.  Who am I ? I am you, I am me, I am your mother, friend, the best and worst that we each have inside of us. I am a different perspective and find myself fascinated by the interesting moments in life.

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