Thursday, March 16, 2017

Review: AMERICA'S NEXT REALITY STAR



One of the great things about being done with copy edits is that I now have time to read again!

It’s no secret that we’re a little obsessed with reality television, so, I was delighted to be able to pick up Laura Heffernan's AMERICA'S NEXT REALITY STAR, and I’m happy to say that the author does a wonderful job using the backdrop of the competition to explore her main character and all the drama inherent in the setting and the wide range of contestants.

I’ve always wondered what makes a well-adjusted person decide to compete in a show like Big Brother (called The Fishbowl here). Every show has at least one sympathetic person who could be your best friend, or your work buddy. America's Next Reality Star follows Jen,  who could very well fall into that category. She’s a 24-year-old marketing assistant who decides to try out for a show after losing her job, boyfriend, and being evicted from her apartment.  Since most of us who have gone through our twenties, or are in our twenties, can relate to at least one of these circumstances, you can’t help but root for her.

While certain characters follow standard roles one would see on a reality show (the male and female villains, the cheerleader, etc.) as the competition continues we grow fonder of most of them, as Jen lets down her guard and forms alliances. We also love to root against the worst villain of them all, the backstabbing Arianna. And isn't that one of the most fun aspects of reality television?

The book also asks timely questions about the nature of romance on such shows. Can it ever be real? How can you trust someone? In Justin, Jen has a totally swoon worthy crush, but one that makes her choices on the show more complicated.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book for its humor, romance, and for its fun character studies, not to mention the creative challenges. I will certainly pick up the sequel as soon as it comes out.

Title: America’s Next Reality Star
Author: Laura Heffernan
Publisher: Lyrical Shine - Kensington
Series: Reality Star #1
Release Date: March 7, 2017
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9781516101542


About Laura Heffernan:

Laura Heffernan is living proof that watching too much TV can pay off. When not watching total strangers participate in arranged marriages, drag racing queens, or cooking competitions, Laura enjoys travel, baking, board games, helping with writing contests, and seeking new experiences. She lives in the Northeast with her amazing husband and two furry little beasts.

Add to your TBR list:  Goodreads

Available at:  Amazon  |  Barnes and Noble  |  Kobo  |  iTunes




Monday, February 27, 2017

Exciting Updates!

Apologies for not blogging much lately, but we have a good excuse - we’ve been working diligently to get our debut young adult novel, SASQUATCH, LOVE, AND OTHER IMAGINARY THINGS, ready for publication. It’s a thrilling (and somewhat terrifying) process!

Now that we have a moment to breathe, we wanted to share some fun news.


SASQUATCH RELEASE DATE

We have an official release date for SASQUATCH – August 4, 2017! And guess what? You can pre-order it right now on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. There will be special gifties for those who pre-order – stay tuned for info on that. You can also add it to your Goodreads "Want to Read" list. 

Isn't this cover pretty? We love it!

COVER REVEAL

The wonderful folks at YA Books Central hosted an exclusive cover reveal for SASQUATCH on their blog on February 16. Check it out: http://www.yabookscentral.com/blog/it-s-live-cover-reveal-1-34


GIVEAWAY

But wait! There’s more! While you’re at YA Books Central, you can enter to win one of three rad prizes: an advance reader copy of SASQUATCH, a Bigfoot action figure, or a Bigfoot mug. Act now – this giveaway ends soon. 

(Action figure not to scale with mug)
awesome mug

NEW WEBSITE 

We’re pleased to share our shiny new website:  www.betsyandcarrie.com. It’s fairly barebones at this point, but we’ll be updating it with events related to the SASQUATCH release and other news, so keep an eye out.

That’s it for now, but we’ll be sure to keep you posted on all the latest excitement!  

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

A Big Fat Hairy Dream Come True



A while back, Carrie and I got the crazy idea of writing a quirky little genre-bending YA romance. You know, your typical girl-meets-boy-while-searching-for-Bigfoot tale. 

Now, we’re delighted to announce that SASQUATCH, LOVE, AND OTHER IMAGINARY THINGS has found a home with Merit Press and will be published in fall 2017.

We’re beyond excited and truly grateful to our agent, Christa Heschke. We will be posting more about the journey from rough draft to publication, in case it can help any other writers.

Until then, Keep on Squatchin’

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Write Drunk, Edit Sober: Our NaNoWriMo Tips




As many of you know, November is National Novel Writing Month, also called NaNoWriMo. 

Basically, once all the Halloween candy has been consumed and before that elf hits the shelf, it’s time for a whole lot of masochists to say goodbye to their friends and family and write a novel in a month.

No big deal, right? It’s got to be easier than training for a marathon or studying for your LSATs.

Not that I’ve done either. 

What I have done is almost finish NaNoWriMo, and here’s how I did it: with a whole lot of planning.

While you aren’t supposed to start your draft until November 1, you should be working on outlining, beat lists, and character development now. You can devise charts, Pinterest boards, Spotify playlists, or anything else that is helpful. The NaNoWriMo website has a lot of great resources to help you get started.

Whether or not you generally plan ahead, if you are going to draft quickly, it's a lifesaver. That way, when you start to write, you’ll know where the story is going, what you need to accomplish, and how you are going to get there.

Although, there will definitely be some surprises along the way. Characters rarely behave.

Here are my best tips to get to the coveted 50,000 words in 30 days.

Tip one: cancel all social plans. Thanksgiving? Meh. Just get a Lean Cuisine turkey entrĂ©e. Okay, so maybe that’s extreme, but anything that can wait until December 1st should wait. 

Tip two: set goals.  50,000 words divided by 30 days is 1,666 words a day. That’s not so much. However, If you work full time during the week, you may want to aim for more words during the weekend and fewer during the week.

Tip three: find time to write. Some people like to get up early and write before work. They’re the same ones who probably like to jog at 6 a.m. While I admire them, I would make sure I wrote during my lunch break and again after 9 p.m.

Tip four: treat yourself. After you meet your weekly goals, watch a couple of episodes of Buffy, or do something else to clear your mind. This is supposed to be fun after all!

Tip five: don’t go back and read what you wrote. Not yet. Hemingway said, “Write drunk, edit sober.” NaNoWriMo is supposed to help you get words on the page. They aren’t supposed to be perfect ones. You’ll edit (and edit, and edit) later. Just focus on writing for now.

Tip six: finish the manuscript. While 50,000 is a lot to write in a month, most novels not written for children are longer. So, finish yours and then you can celebrate because whether you “win” or “lose,” you’ll have a whole lot more done than those of us who spent the month doing something useless like training for a marathon or studying for the LSATS. 

Lastly, and most importantly. Please don’t send your work to agents, editors, or even friends on December 1. Shower, put on some clothes that don’t resemble pajamas and let your manuscript sit for at least a few days before you dig in and tackle the revisions. Then edit the heck out of it, get some great critique partners, and edit some more. 

There’s a reason why the Oscars honor editors every year. It’s hard work. 

Happy writing!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Drop Everything and Read This: The Adventurer's Guide to Successful Escapes


Do you know how every once in a while you run across a book that makes you wish elbowing strangers and forcing them to laugh wasn't frowned upon?

Well, if you can control yourself, and if you ever wished Douglas Adams and Lemony Snicket got together to play Dungeons and Dragons and write a hilarious book, this one is for you.

The Adventurer's Guide to Successful Escapes is the debut middle grade novel by Wade Albert White. Not only does he posses an unmistakable voice and terrific pacing, he's Canadian, which means he probably gets to hang around Justin Trudeau and hug pandas. 

I could go on to explain the plot between snorting and guffawing, but instead I'll insert the actual description of the book:

A thrilling debut novel where fantasy and science fiction meet, dragons aren’t as innocent as they look (which is to say, not innocent at all), and nothing is quite what it seems.

Anne has spent most of her thirteen years dreaming of the day she and her best friend Penelope will finally leave Saint Lupin’s Institute for Perpetually Wicked and Hideously Unattractive Children. When the big day arrives, a series of very curious happenings lead to Anne being charged with an epic quest. Anne, Penelope, and new adventuring partner Hiro have only days to travel to strange new locales, solve myriad riddles, and triumph over monstrous foes–or face the horrible consequences.
Packed with action, humor, and endless heart, this debut novel marks the first volume in an irresistible and original fantasy series.

Learn more and buy the book. Canadian currency accepted.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Art of Patience





While walking around my neighborhood today I passed this sign which quotes Confucius. “It does not matter how slow you go as long as you do not stop.” It's good advice, but I especially appreciated the second half of the sign, offering a discount on wine. I thought it was a perfect message for those of us who call ourselves writers. Nothing can’t be solved by patience, persistence, and wine. 

One thing we’ve learned the past few years is that the hardest thing about writing isn’t the writing itself. Sure, it’s hard to sit down at stare at an empty word file, or struggle with plotting and revising.

But writing is active, so it’s easy to get caught up in all the things that you can do to make it better, to grow as a writer. You feel like you’re working toward something as long as you have tasks to do.

To my mind, the absolute hardest thing is waiting.

When you finish a draft, you wait for feedback, unsure if your CPs will love it or hate it. Then you revise, send queries, revise those queries, and wait some more. Then maybe you’re lucky and you sign with a lovely agent. As excited as you both are to work together, you still need to graciously wait for him or her to find time to read your work and provide more feedback. After all, chances are that your agent has other clients.
And then you go on submission and the real waiting begins. Here is where you have to be a waiting ninja, a patience guru. And it’s hard. Really hard.

When you are waiting on queries and you get a rejection, you can just send out a new, sparkly query. You can send out ten of them at a time. You’re actively contributing to your own career.

But while you are on sub, you’re not following up with more agents or editors. You’re trusting your super competent, knowledgeable agent to do that for you. 

So here’s what you can do to help.

Write something else. It does make the time go by faster. 

You can binge watch Parks and Rec. Well, that helped me. 

Read a lot in your genre or another genre. You never know what the next project will be. You may even fall more in love with it than your current project.

Take up another hobby.  Maybe your tap dancing lessons will clear your mind and lead to a great idea about a group of tap dancing grannies. You never know. 

What not to do:

Don’t compare your journey to anyone else’s. We all have friends that signed with an agent after writing for three months, and sold a book after two weeks. That’s the exception, not the norm.

J.K. Rowling was turned down all over town before finally selling Harry Potter. I think we can agree that things worked out pretty well for her, right?

Don’t give up. I was recently at BookCon and a debut novelist said her book was not her first, second, or even third novel. It was her fourth, and she was thrilled that it worked out that way because even though it took 7 years from that first blank page to publication date, she was sure that it was meant to be her debut.

In the meantime, there is always wine.