Thursday, September 1, 2011

YA Indie Carnival!

Welcome to The Shootin' Gallery and the eighth post in the YA Indie Carnival. The carnival is designed for authors, readers and reviewers of YA Indie books. Each Friday this team of YA Indies will post on a common theme.

OK, so I've obviously posted on the wrong topic this week (I'm such an idiot, duh!). The post was supposed to be Three suggestions we might have for Indie authors.

Well, after considering this topic I decided that, being new to the Indie publishing world myself, I don't feel terribly qualified to give a lot of advice. So, I've decided to give the standard advice that I find useful and productive in most any new life experience.

Just do it...

Yeah, I know, I sound like a NIKE commercial. Seriously though, don't doubt yourself. Write from your heart. Forget about all the 'potential' competition. Don't worry about whether or not someone won't like your book (and consequently give you a bad review)... and don't second guess yourself.

In the Indie world my competition has been nothing but supportive and helpful. They are my personal cheer leaders, co - conspiriters, editors, blog buddies, friends... you get the idea. What I'm trying to say is that the competition is ready and waiting to accept you with open arms.

Worried someone won't like your book? Yeah, that'll probably happen but so what... It's all subjective, right? Someone won't like it but someone else will and that is who we write for (our fans!)

Don't second guess yourself. Write from your heart and trust what you put on paper. Don't try to be someone your not. Inner monologue, "Gee, maybe I can write a book just like Stephenie Meyer and everyone will love me." NOT! You're story will just plain old suck if it isn't YOURS! ...and that is what your fans (yes, they're out there... somewhere) want to read.

Well, that's my take on things. Sorry for the post theme confusion.

You can scroll down to the bottom of this post if you are interested in reading my blunder post theme topic about the process of writing.

Before you head off to the next booth in the carnival please don't forget about...

Soulless is a novella and will be available for free download @ on October 31, 2011!

The Guardians of Souls, Book Two in The Soul Quest Trilogy. It is available on Amazon NOW!

Carnival of fun!

The Ferris Wheel

Dani Snell: An awesome reviewer.

The Rockin' Roller Coaster

Patti Larsen: Author of The Ghost Boy of MacKenzie House, and The Diamond City Trilogy.

The Kissing Booth

Courtney Cole: Author of Every Last Kiss, Fated, Princess, and Guardian. Also a contributing author in The Glassheart Chronicles.

Cotton Candy Corner

Wren Emerson: Author of I Wish and a contributing author in the upcoming anthology that I am participating in (The Glassheart Chronicles).

The Fun House

Nicole Williams: An indie author of paranormal fiction. Her titles include: Eternal Eden and Fallen Eden. She is also participating in the Glassheart Chronicles. Here is the link to my review on Goodreads.

The Dunking Booth

Fisher Amelie: Author of The Understorey, as well as a contributing author in The Glassheart Chronicles.

The Carousel
Laura Elliott: Author of the recently released Winnemucca!

The Haunted Castle

Rachel Coles: Author of Diary of a Duct Tape Zombie, Whistles, Beergarden, Plagues, Bees of St. John, and Mushrooms.


T.R. Graves: Author of Warriors of the Cross.

The Face Painting Booth

Cydni Tefft: Author of Between

The Fortune Teller
P.J. Hoover: Author of Solstice
Congrats to P. J. for her recent
book trailer award for Solstice!

Popcorn and Caramel Apples!
Alicia McCalla: Author of Breaking

Pony Rides!
Heather Cashman: Author of Perception

The Petting Zoo!
Cheri Schmidt: Author of Fateful and Fractured

Don't forget to make a comment and join my followers! I love hearing from from my old friends as much as I love making new friends!

Blunder Post Theme

What came first, the chicken or the egg... the character or the plot?

What does the author of a story do first in her writing adventure? Does she draw up the plot or create her characters? Stephanie Meyer once said that her idea for Twilight blossomed from a dream. She dreamt about a beautiful, magical boy who fell in love with a lovely mortal teenage girl. She envisioned the two star crossed lovers in a quiet meadow. In the same interview she mentioned that the famous meadow scene from Twilight was the first scene written even though we all know it didn’t take place until close to the middle of the story. If this is true one could make the argument that Stephanie Meyer created her characters before she whipped up her plot. Personally, I find this very difficult to do. While I do feel strong characterization is the key to a strong story or dramatization I have to know the world and circumstances the characters exit in before I can really develop them. For this reason I begin my writing journey with a loose plot. For example, my loose plot for Soul Quest went something like this.

A God – like being discovers demon - like creatures on Earth. The demons are trying to kill human kind and take over the world. His resolution is to empower four teenagers with supernatural abilities in an effort to save the world from disaster.
This scenario actually evolved from a dream I had. So, it must be a common strategy for authors to literally dream up their stories. From this loose plot I immediately knew I had to create at least six powerful characters. I needed to create a God – like being, four teenagers who possessed supernatural abilities and a demon. Before I could begin to develop these characters I realized I needed to know/decide why the demons were attacking the Earth and why the God – like creature cared about what they were doing. Once I achieved this I was able to flesh out the characters I’ve come to know and love in The Soul Quest Trilogy.

What is my process for developing characters? There is a science to my madness. I start in the magazine isle at the grocery store. I swear to you I am not bluffing. All of the paranormal excitement begins on isle six at Food Lion. Seriously, magazines are a great tool for character development. I use this same technique with my theater arts students in the class room. A snap shot of a woman in a field of flowers could be a character in a play or a book. Who is she? What is she doing? Why is she there? When did she go there? How long has she been there? How does she feel? Why does she feel that way? You can grasp a million ideas from a single picture. You know what they say… a picture is worth a thousand words. Magazines are helpful when you are researching characters of any age but I find them particularly useful when writing about my younger characters. I am a young adult writer so I have to know what types of people my readers will relate to and truly believe to be teenagers in my story. This can only happen if they fit into the current popular culture. I flip through the popular teen magazines to see who young people find cool, handsome and interesting. I want to know why they feel that way about them. I’m especially interested in their appearance and attitude. What do they look like, what do they wear, what is their style and personality? From this I can create my character’s physical appearance, personality strengths and weaknesses, their objective or goal in the story, the obstacles that stand in their way and tactics they may use to resolve their problems (… and you thought I was crazy for doing character research in the grocery store).

Of course, magazines are just a starting place. Most of my character’s emotions and feelings stem from my own experiences and perceptions in life. My main character in Soul Quest is Liv Glyn. Liv is a smart, sweet and outgoing girl with a lot of common sense and good ideas. She is incredibly perceptive and humble and she believes overly impulsive, boastful people are na├»ve and careless. Many of Liv’s feelings and views on life are similar to my own. I named her after my daughter, Olivia and gave her similar physical attributes to define her beauty. The name Olivia is Latin in origin and means olive tree or branch of life. It is from this meaning that I came up with the idea for my teenage Oracles to possess affinities for Earth, fire, wind and water.

Whether an author begins with an idea for a plot or character first doesn’t really matter. There is no right or wrong way to do it. Each person is different creatively and so creativity is going to manifest itself in a unique way in all of us. When I choreograph a dance I rarely start at the beginning, I usually begin somewhere in the middle. I don’t know why exactly, I just know that when the piece starts I like to know the direction its taking and when it completes itself I need to understand where it evolved from. Similarly, when I am directing a play I will not necessarily begin with scene one. Instead, I will analyze the script and determine what scenes prove to be the most difficult. In most cases these scenes are at the heart of the story where the characterization and plot are most complex. If I can effectively direct these scenes the rest of the play should naturally lead up to them and wind down to a resolution. Writing isn’t any different. Begin with a plot or a character. Flesh out your storyline and invent your characters later. Write about your character’s feelings and interactions with one another first and then build a plot to support the scene. It is simply a matter of what process works best for you or your current work in progress.


  1. Amy,

    "Don't second guess yourself. Write from your heart and trust what you put on paper" Why is it the little voice inside that is the hardest for us to hear? That's why I wrote Winnemucca, because I wanted to explore that very question. Thanks for the practical real-world advice of just doing it! Good luck with Soulless!! Great title.

  2. I loved reading about how you began writing your story. I think it's fascinating to learn what prompted authors to develop their ideas and characters. And I also love that you scope out teen mags to keep current on trends, etc. Genius. It really is important to keep your finger on the pulse of your audience. Great post! :)

  3. You're human, but I think it was all great. I liked the advice.