Placeholders! How many do you have?

Hey everyone!

12 days until Stolen Nights is released! Hooray!!!

Now, onward! To the blog post, friends!

So, you might be wondering what I was blogging about on Miss Literati this week.Here’s a link in case you missed it or in case you weren’t thinking about it:

http://www.missliterati.com/blog/give-your-characters-a-reason-to-smile#.UPcefeim4sr

This blog post is a continuation of that discussion on gesture. Specifically, for Miss Literati, I blogged about the importance of smiles and the need for specificity when a character smiles.

I am finishing up revisions before I hand in the last and final book of the Vampire Queen series to my editor (*cries*). She hasn’t seen it yet so I am painstakingly trying to make it awesome before it goes onto her desk.

One of the ways that I drive myself bonkers before I pass in a draft to my editor is do “word searches” within my work in progress. Most of the time while doing this, I post on my personal Facebook page embarrassing facts like: I used the word “looked” 151 times in this draft of my manuscript. This is 100% true, I really did use “looked” 151 times in this draft of the third book. I am working on fixing these now.

When I draft I can’t worry all the time about the overuse of words, etc. I have to get through the scene. That’s what matters. I write through the scenes and then go back and look for places where not only the prose is lacking but the emotional impact of the scene is missing or convoluted. How do I find those places? Placeholders! More on what these are in a minute.

Here’s how I draft in order of what I think is most important:

1. Get your characters through the scene, get them where they need to go. Finish that damn scene, you!

2. Make sure the emotional reaction of your main character and her desire is clear in the moment.

3. Go back and make the writing as best as it can be.

We all wish we wrote perfect, lyrical prose every time we sat down and wrote a first draft. Hey, sometimes it happens. Not often, but sometimes. So, I have a list of words when I am revising that show me where the “placeholders” are in my manuscript. As I defined on Miss Literati, placeholders are moments within your manuscript that lack real emotional depth. They “hold the place” of the emotional moment so that we, the awesome writers, can revise later and deepen.

So let’s go back to the 150 instances of “looked” that I had in my current WIP. If a character is “looking at something” you spend half of the sentence imagining the main character looking at the object versus seeing what she is looking at directly. You step out of her body and in essence, out of the scene. I don’t think “looked” is bad all the time or even ineffective, sometimes you need it. When you have the opportunity you should show the reader exactly what it is the character is looking at instead of telling us that she is looking at something first.

Ah, the old adage. Show, my friend. Don’t tell.

Here’s an example of something I just changed that I found in my manuscript by doing the word search, “I looked.”

Oooh a sneak peek into Book Three!!

TELLING VERSION:

My hands trembled so I balled them into fists. I looked to the rows behind me, expecting something or someone to materialize.

SHOWING VERSION:

My hands trembled so I balled them into fists. Row by row, I expected something or someone to materialize between the gaps in the trees. A hand could curl around the bark followed by a body, and that person, whoever he was might want to hurt me. Or worse, kill me.

I got all of that from the expression “I looked.” It’s a big placeholder for me. I wonder if it might be for you too? I had to ask myself here, what is Lenah seeing? What is she feeling? How can I show this without telling? Maybe I’ll go back and revise this part some more but for now, this is a big step up, at least in my opinion.

So what are some words you can look for that might be clues to placeholders? Here’s my personal list. Really. It’s a list I have on a piece of owl paper that I keep next to my desk.

See?

In case you can’t see the words clearly, here is the list in NO particular order:

1. “I saw”

2. Gasp.

3. Looked – (I cry. 150 times!!!! Revise, revise, revise)

4. I felt – I would argue that you should never have this expression in your manuscript if you can help it. Seriously. It’s VERY VERY BAD for distancing your reader from your scene.

5. Start to

6. Turned

7. Adrenaline

8. Walked – In a draft of Stolen Nights, the copyeditor told me I had used the word “wallked” 200 times. 200!!!! See how important revision is!?

9. tiny

10. For a moment

11. Replied

12. Sashay (no idea why or how this is an overused word for me)

13. Beautiful – another word, which I believe needs tons of context. Calling something “beautiful” adds nothing specific to a scene. Beauty needs context much like smiles need context. What makes something beautiful is different to everyone.

14. Eyes met – (oy vey!)

15. Then

16. Smiles, hearts fluttering, pounding, etc.

17. Just

Hope this has been helpful to you. Oh, yea, and Infinite Days is 2.99 as an e-book right now. Sooooooo…yea. Buy it!

http://www.amazon.com/Infinite-Days-Vampire-Queen-ebook/dp/B004N635VI/ref=tmm_kin_title_0

Updates and Forever My Girl!

A few exciting things are happening! It’s January and you know what that means, don’t you? DON’T YOU? The horrendously long wait for Stolen Nights is over. Yes, I tell you. OVER! On January 29th Stolen Nights shall be available at bookstores near YOU. So far the response has been great but mostly I ignore all reviews as I am finishing last revisions on the final book in the trilogy. That and reviews tend to make me itchy.

But onto more awesome news. The wonderful Heidi Bennett, my friend and author has written a novel! And as you know, I have posted my query letter that ultimately led to a book deal on my blog before. I am a supporter of people getting their work out there no matter the cost so I asked Heidi to share her story. She wrote the fabulous (I read it in one night) Forever My Girl and e-published it herself. I went the more traditional route but sometimes, especially for readers who feel like that is Mt Everest and they want some other ideas, Heidi’s story is the reason for this blog. I hope you read her book. I hope her story inspires you to write your stories. Whether your publish the traditional route with queries or you e-pub yourself, your work is your art. That’s what you should be proud of every day you sit down at your desk, chair, stool, etc, etc.

Take it away, Heidi:

For as long as I remember, I’ve wanted to be an author. I always thought what a better way to spend a day than getting lost in your imagination. When I started writing my first manuscript, I had high hopes. Big dreams of what was to come. I went the “traditional” route. I queried and wait only to be rejected. Sadly, those didn’t pan out, but I didn’t want to give up.

What I did was surround myself with an outstanding team of beta readers and indie authors. I asked question after question and watched what other authors were doing. I lurked, stalked and took notes of how authors were promoting themselves. I learned so much in the matter of three months.

I approached author, Jillian Dodd, early in the conception of Forever My Girl, to get her take on publishing. I’ve worked with her on a few blog tours and became one of her pre-readers so I felt confident in asking her.

What I received in return has been so much more. Jillian has become a mentor and has guided, supported and helped me through this process, even putting her novel aside to help format mine.

The daily check-ins and reminders of what I’m supposed to be doing, what I should be signed up for and to just relax have literally been heaven sent.

Since Forever My Girl went live, I’ve been asked a lot of questions, which I gladly answer, but the one that keeps coming up is this if self-publishing for everyone? No, it’s not. It’s not easy as some would say. It’s a process. I recently told a marketing executive at one of the Big 6’s how much I envy the departments that surround her job. I had to do everything that ten or so other people would do for one author. I had to proof, email, copy, market, network, create – you name it, I did it, all while working a full-time job and raising two very busy daughters.

But at the end of the day when I loaded my final document into Amazon and Barnes & Noble and when I pressed publish on my paperback and saw that first sale, I realized it’s all been worth it.

A lot of people frowned when I said I was self-publishing. They reminded me that I won’t have a company to do all the work so I can write more, help me out in a bind, be there as a sounding board or have them to do all my marketing or create contests.

And they’re right, but what I do have is control. I own my work. I can promote myself any way I choose. I set my own deadlines. I have final say in my cover. And most importantly I have the team I created ready and willing to help me with my next novel.

Forever My Girl is available on Amazon Kindle and paperback, Nook and Kobo

Amazon links

US – http://www.amazon.com/Forever-My-Girl-Beaumont-ebook/dp/B00ATNJW3Y/ref=la_B00AV872O8_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1356968164&sr=1-1

UK – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Forever-Girl-Beaumont-Series-ebook/dp/B00ATNJW3Y/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1356970235&sr=1-1

Barnes & Noble

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/forever-my-girl-heidi-mclaughlin/1114035505?ean=2940016146850

Kobo – http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Forever-My-Girl/book-Srdv_kJSuUK5j_QVJMA8kA/page1.html?s=iJSdomXLg0WIIO8liYaYAg&r=1

Find Heidi online:

blog: http://heidimclaughlinauthor.blogspot.com/
goodreads:http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6568302.Heidi_McLaughlin
Twitter: https://twitter.com/HeidiJoVT
Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/HeidiMcLaughlinAuthor

 

NEW STOLEN NIGHTS PUB DATE! oh and my top 20

Yahoo! Jan 29th!! I got the word today that Stolen Nights will be released even earlier than we expected. Wahoo!

I made a list of my favorite top 20 middle grade and YA books ever to send to my writer’s group. With all this NPR stuff, I thought, I should do this too! So here it is.

Rebecca Maizel’s TOP 20 Children’s and YA reading list. This is in no particular order. Mainly because I am lazy.

1. John Green – Looking For Alaska – YA – (Realistic) 
2. Lisa Yee – Milicent Min Girl Genius – MG – (Realistic) 
3. Natalie Babbit – Tuck Everlasting – MG – (Fantasy) 
4. AM Jenkins – Beating Heart – (Prose/poetry – Fantasy) 
5. – Sherman Alexie – The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian – YA – (Realistic) 
6. JK Rowling –  Harry Potter 1-7 – MG/YA – (Fantasy) 
7. Notes From A Liar And Her Dog – Gennifer Choldenko – MG – (Realistic) 
8. Laurie Halse Anderson – Speak – YA – (Realistic) 
9. Tanya Lee Stone  – A Bad Boy Can Be Good For A Girl  – YA – (Prose poetry/Realistic)
10. Karen Hesse – The Music of Dolphins – young MG  (Realistic)
11. Courtney Summers – Some Girls Are – YA (Realistic)
12. Jandy Nelson – The Sky Is Everywhere – YA (Realistic)
13. Ellen Kushner – The Privilege of the Sword – YA (fantasy)
14. Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman – Why We Broke Up – YA (realistic) 
15. Lynda Mullaly Hunt – One For the Murphys – MG (realistic) 
 
16. Martha Brooks – Mistik Lake – YA (realistic, alternating points of view)
17. Jennifer Hubbard – The Secret Year – YA – (Realistic, epistolary)
18. Franny Billingsley – Chime – YA – (Fantasy)
19. E. Lockhart – The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks – (Realistic)
20. Kristin Cashore – Graceling – (Fantasy..generally awesome)
oh!
21. Carrie Ryan -The Forest of Hands and Teeth – (Dystopian/fantasy?)

My Kinda Book/GIVEAWAY!

Two!

That’s what today is all about. Two things you should do. The first! I am sorry about no vlog. I have moved, gotten my appendix out, found out about fleas in my living space (which could be the most disgusting experience ever), a window treatment fell on my head, and then my desk collapsed into million pieces. None of this is in any particular order of course but there you have it. Then again, the apology about the vlog assumes you all want to actually SEE me, which might not even be the case. ANYWAY.

If you haven’t checked out UK Macmillan’s site – My Kinda Book, then you’re missing out on all kinds of extra content. Do you want to see my TOP TEN HIGH SCHOOL MISFITS? How about My Stolen Night Playlist?

http://www.mykindabook.com/Books/Stolen-Night

Onto NUMBER TWO.

Do you want to read Stolen Night?

Do you live in the UK?

If you answered yes to these two questions, you can win!

I am giving away TWO copies of STOLEN NIGHT! That’s right. You read this right. TWO!

Just follow the instructions below! Good luck.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Appendix and the UK release

So Monday night I complained of a stomach ache that got worse as time went on. It got to the point where my sister had to take me to the ER. I stayed overnight and eventually found out – my appendix had to go. Clear liquid diet and two days later, I’m home and probably shouldn’t be writing this as I am on some pain killers. BUT HEY. IT IS MY BOOK RELEASE!

Happy book birthday to me!!! That is if you live in the UK. You should be able to pick up Stolen Night at any WH Smith, Waterstones, or on Amazon! I was going to post a vlog but then I decided no one needed to see me all weird from my surgery. So I ask you – do you want to win a copy of Stolen Night? My amazing friend Heidi over at http://www.thereadiacs.com/ is doing a book giveaway!

http://www.thereadiacs.com/

Click on that link and enter!!

I am off to drink more chicken broth!

New Stolen Nights Cover! (US!)

Voila! The new Stolen Nights cover! This is the US version which comes out early next year. I know…I know…you hate me for it taking so long. I have attempted a vlog like 900 times and will explain it ALL when I upload it.

I LOVE this cover. And when you read the book you’ll see it’s relevance.  I’m sorry this book has taken so long. Believe me, no one would like this book to come out sooner than me. Don’t give up on me yet! You’ll love it. Okay, I hope you’ll love it.

One more thing, I thought I would share that is 100% unrelated. London’s National Portrait Gallery has a writing contest going on. I highly recommend you check it out if you live in London. But the cool thing is, if you don’t live in London you can still enter. It’s called the Imagined Lives exhibit. 
Basically, you look at these portraits and you make up a story of 300 words about the life of the sitter of the portrait. Personally, I think it’s pretty cool. I always look at paintings and try to imagine who was where and why it was painted in the first place. I thought I would share the one I wrote in the hopes it will inspire you to try to write on too. 

At one time people believed this to be Mary Queen of Scots but apparently as time would reveal, it is not. So here is what I submitted:

Unknown woman, formerly known as Mary, Queen of Scots
by Unknown artist
circa 1570

Leave your heart with the mountains. Leave it tucked away with the ticking clock.
“Too bad, not a boy,” they said with a tisk of their tongues against their lips.
Too bad? Too bad you were in love with her the moment they placed her in your arms.
You will come back? She asked you two years after you faked her death.
Always she asks those four words.
You will come back?
 Not quite a question, not quite a statement but those four words chained you to your story. You would not allow your daughter a life of a bowed head and shut mouth.
So you hid her in those mountains. Hid her from the men who would have destroyed her.  
“A boy!” They demanded. They demand it of you now. As your husband the King plans his wars, they demand that you give birth to a boy. How could they dismiss her so? Did they not see her golden hair? She had her mother’s small mouth. Her mother’s delicate hands.
You will come back?
 You will. Until then, you will count the hours until these men turn their backs. Until they stop watching their queen. Their lady. And when they do, when the King is bored with you and believes you to be a lost cause, nothing but a slave to the death of a baby you only fooled him into believing is dead, you will come back.
Oh yes. You will escape. To stay.
To live. 

NOW YOU DO IT.

Jet Lag and Mick Jagger!

I am back in the States, which is equal parts awesome and equal parts jet lag. Yesterday I felt like I was 10 minutes behind in every conversation I was having. It was weird. I was weird. I was Air Franced.

Anyway. What an incredible trip. I wish I could explain every little detail but that would be boring so I am going to tell you about the highlights.

In week two of my England trip, I went to Hathersage, to Lenah country. I always go whenever I am in England to remind myself why I chose the setting and why it means so much to me. Check out these photos. These are exactly why I picked Hathersage. Epic and beautiful.

Amazing, right? Well, it is to me anyway. After Hathersage, where my mom lit her napkin on fire and we laughed for two days about it, we headed up to the lakes. It rained and we were bored. BUT then we went to Paris. Oh…Paris.

I met my French editor, translator, press person, and two amazing bloggers. I felt so happy, so humbled, and so lucky. They were funny, talkative, and all of them dressed incredibly well. ALSO, I hugged all of them, which I read in Rick Steves (after the fact, DAMN IT)  is kind of aggressive in France. I didn’t know this. In America, we hug. So I hugged them goodbye. Damn it. I hope they weren’t offended. I was just so excited to MEET THEM.

I cannot wait to see the sequel published in French. It comes out, from what I heard, in France in October! Here are the links to the two bloggers I met. They have fantastic YA blogs and it’s interesting to see what book bloggers are doing/posting in other cultures.

http://oiseausecret.canalblog.com/
http://actuya.fr/

Basically I fell in love with Paris. But really, the reason I am posting at all is to tell you I saw Mick Jagger. I did not meet him or even speak to him. Two minutes after my editor left, Mick Jagger walked in the room. If I had her number, I would have called her and we could have been amazed together. Then again, I was recovering from food poisoning so I could have hallucinated Mick Jagger. He is somewhere in my subconscious and I could have simply wished him into existence in my dehydrated state. BUT my mother was there and SHE saw him so unless we had a collective hallucination, Mick Jagger sat two tables from us in a blue cardigan.

Okay. That is all for now. Giveaways are coming for those of you in the UK!!!

Aint No Party Like a Hathersage Party ‘Cause a Hathersage Party Don’t Stop!

Tonight I met the hottest bartender in Derbyshire. He smiled at me and delivered my pasta but that was the end of our love affair.

So where have I been? How did I get to Derbyshire? I left London went to Oxford, where I happened upon a set location from Harry Potter!

Looks familiar, yes? It’s the tree where Draco is turned into a ferret in Order of the Phoenix. This was shot in New College (I believe), in the cloisters.

Telling you the play by play of my trip would be tedious but here are the TOP THREE ODDITIES THAT HAVE OCCURED while in Oxford, Cotswolds, and Derbyshire (where I set Infinite Days).

TOP THREE OF MIDDLE ENGLAND:

1. Stopping in the middle of the road because a man was herding a bunch of sheep that had gotten lost on the way to Stanage Edge (google it).

2. Buying approximately 2 tons of Haddon Hall tea. The tea blend is RIDICULOUS.

3. My mom setting her napkin on fire last night at dinner. Best quote in reaction to the “fire”:
Concierge: “Well, at least it wasn’t the table.”

Yea…go Mom. And the last picture I will leave you with is one of Hathersage, England, where I set Infinite Days. You won’t see as much of Hathersage in Stolen Night but not to worry! More in Book 3!

Tea, Crumpets, and Judi Dench!

Oh yes. London. I have been here since Monday and I’m 90% sure I gained 10 lbs. The food here is ridiculous. I am here in the UK for 2 weeks before heading to Paris! On my personal Facebook page I have been posting a TOP 3 for every day I have been here. I thought I would share them here. Why not? Oh and apparently Kim Kardashian (who my Mom insists on calling Kardacian) was at my hotel. Which obviously means I’m the coolest.

Day 1:
Things I have learned in London so far:
1. The eye candy here is RIDICULOUS. So so many beautiful men!
2. The El Pirata tapas restaurant in Mayfair has amazing food.
3. Looking right happens much more often than looking left. Do with this information what you will.

Day Two has come to a close and here is what I have learned today:

1. Jersey Boys is a REDONKULOUSLY good show. Run. RUN to a theatre and see it. (Mom cried)
2. Yes, I WILL take roasted tomatoes every morning for breakfast.
3. The London cabbies are losing their minds because of how much the traffic sucks. Apparently the Queen’s Jubilee and the Olympics are making the local traffic bonkers.

The end of Day Three and here is what I have learned:
1. Judi Dench is way awesome in person. Even when looking at her from inside a cab.
2. Dinner at the Dean Street Townhouse was RIDICULOUSLY good. Cheese and onion tart? AKA Roll yourself back to your hotel tart? I think so.
3. My UK editor is amazing, easy to talk to, and gorgeous. I felt like Greedo.

In book news. I have made Stolen Night and Infinite Days essential oils! I made them at the fantastic Fragrance Shop in NYC. I am going to do some giveaways for the UK release  (July 5!!) in a month or so. When I get back to the states from this incredible trip, I’ll give those away along with an ARC!

More on the giveaways later…VIVA LONDON!

So, I made this vlog, uploaded it to imovie and then subsequently got my butt handed to me. I am not technologically savvy. I thought I was. But I have been handed my hat. So I must post this via words.

Why, oh why, Rebecca, did Stolen Night take so long? Blarg. I get e-mailed that a lot. Probably once a day. So I thought I would set the “record” straight, so to speak..err, type. The truth? I needed to find the right story. I think when I first started the sequel, I believed that I needed to continue the story of Infinite Days. So the book sort of read like Infinite Days extended like 200 pages. Odd, considering the ending but remember, there are other characters in ID than just Lenah. 🙂 Anyway, so I went back to the drawing board. Finally, FINALLY, I found a place where I was happy with the book, my editor was happy with the book, and I could move on with the series.

Here’s the thing. When you write a novel, you generally