Monday, July 27, 2015

How to Be a Good Critique Partner

Image courtesy of anankkml at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
I wrote here about ways to find a critique partner, and today I want to talk about how to BE a good critique partner.

1) Discuss a good return time with your partner and make sure to have it back to them by then. I like to return my critiques within two weeks, some people like a month, some even like six months to read. Make sure you are on the same page as far as expectations of timing go—and return it within the promised time frame.

2) Ask if there is anything in particular they want you to look at. Again, setting expectations right at the beginning is really important. You may spend your whole time doing line edits when they’re not at that stage yet.

3) Look closely at plot, pacing, characters, and structure. If you find holes in motivation or consistency, point those out. Comment on the places where the book lost your interest for a scene. Believe that the person you are reading for is highly capable of writing an amazing book and help them dig deep into their story. Don’t let them be lazy with clichés and boring, overused tropes. They can do better, and if you believe it, they’ll believe it.

4) Look for threads of theme that they may not realize are there—or that they could explore more and point those out. Sometimes an author can be so close to a manuscript, they may not realize a reoccurring image or idea that they could play with.

5) Read a lot so you know what’s out there. Some of the best critique partners are voracious readers. à This is also good writing advice as well. JUST READ.

6) Learn the “track changes” function in Word. For too many years, I didn’t know that existed—and I may be the last person on earth to realize that it’s there—so I had an entire complicated, time-consuming code for editing. What a waste of time! Track changes marks every change you make to the manuscript and with the reviewing pane, makes it easy for the person you’re reading for to go straight to where the changes were made.

7) Be Kind! Remember that this manuscript is someone’s baby. They have poured an irretrievable chunk of their soul into that story and those pages, and they need to know where the good parts are JUST AS MUCH OR MORE than they need to know all the areas they need to improve. Because this business is hard. And rejection is around every corner. And it is so, so easy to doubt yourself, your story, and your ability to write because someone gave you a very harsh critique. You can give a thorough and honest critique, and still be kind.

8) Don’t rewrite their book the way you would have written it if it was your story. It’s not your book. Instead, point out the places that aren’t working for you. If you know why it’s not working, let them know. Ask questions that will get them thinking.

9) Be willing to answer follow-up questions they might have. For my very close critique partners, I will often reread passages (and in a few cases, whole novels) and brainstorm new ideas. We’ll even chat on the phone to workshop the story. For everyone—even for first chapter reads—I am willing to answer as many follow-up questions as is needed to help them understand my thoughts.

On that note: One thing that’s helped me the most is to make sure me and the potential critique partner are a good fit before I commit to critiquing a 400 page manuscript. To do that, I suggest exchanging first chapters to start with—especially if it is someone that I don’t have any sort of prior relationship with or have never read anything they’ve written.

It doesn’t do anyone any favors to read a book you don’t connect with because you’ll likely give it a harsher critique because you don’t like the genre/writing style/etc. Additionally, if you spot a lot of problems in the first chapter—no clear sense of character/place/time, an implausible plot, lacking in research, starting at the wrong place, etc you don’t spend hours (and hours) on a manuscript that can be revised based on the feedback from chapter 1.


*Note: Just because I only read a first chapter and don’t ask for more doesn’t mean I hate your book. I love mentoring and I love critiquing, but I’m so busy with my family, writing, church, and conference planning that I don’t often have time to read entire manuscripts—and for that reason alone, I will read pretty much any first chapter that someone sends to me, but rarely more than that.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Where's the Love?

There’s a trend on social media that’s being talked about a lot lately: How awful people can be to each other.

I know a lot of it has something to do with the anonymity that comes with screen names and avatars, and there’s this self-righteous buzz that comes from “setting someone in their place” or calling someone out for what you perceive is incorrect. Monica Lewinsky addresses the social media meanness in her TED talk (which you should go watch if you haven't already.)

Just this week on Facebook, one acquaintance talked about the ugly emails she’d received after a guest post she wrote for a popular online blogging site. Things no one would dare say to her face if she were there and things that should never be written.

Another woman talked about how she shaved her head—a bucket list item she had. After posting a picture of herself, she received so many hurtful, hateful emails that she ended up deleting her inbox without reading the rest of them.

What is going on?

Are we not allowed to have opinions, live our lives the way we want, look the way we want, or express our beliefs without hatred being flung at us?

A few months ago on Twitter I posted about how I came across a rattle snake on my morning walk. I had all of my kids with me and was nervous that it might strike at us. Rattle snakes are common in the desert, but I don’t think I’ll ever get used to seeing them. We skirted around it carefully and continued down the nature trail. On the way back home a man told us that he had killed the snake because it was on a very commonly used path—especially by kids walking home from the elementary school not too far away.

After I posed about it on Twitter, I was attacked by the snake-loving community (they exist). They told me I was a horrible person, that I didn’t deserve to live, that I should have my head cut off like the snake's. They called me names and wrote many other horrible things that really upset me. Dozens more people came up out of nowhere, sending me awful tweets and tagging each other so more could join in.

I made the mistake of engaging, first by apologizing for offending them, and then by justifying my feelings of relief that the snake was dead. MISTAKE. Things only escalated from there, and I ended up blocking all of the attackers and deleting the post. The whole thing blew me away and turned me off of Twitter for months. I’m still a little nervous when I post on there. (I hate that I gave them that power, by the way.)

My plea for today is that we all be a little bit kinder. It's not your place to offer your opinion on every life decision someone makes. It is not your place to arrogantly assume that your hateful comments are relevant. And it is definitely not your place to tear someone down. 

Where is the value in that? In trashing someone’s day, disparaging their character, and making them feel bad about themselves. It's too common now to take a complex, multi-dimensional person and boil them down to one characteristic that gets picked out from one tweet, one picture, one blog post and then branded to their chest like a scarlet A they have to wear around for the rest of their life. 

These commenters feel like they’ve done something powerful. That they’ve made a difference, when in reality, all they’ve done is added more hate to the ever-growing pit of hate that people seem to love swimming around in.

Want to know where REAL power is? 

It’s love and kindness.

So my challenge for us all is to be a little bit kinder today than you were yesterday. Respond with love, not judgement, not hate, not trying to push someone down or prove that you’re right.

Words are powerful. Let’s use them for good. Let’s make them meaningful.

And maybe together we can start a new trend.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

4 Ways to Find Critique Partners

FIRST: A critique partner is someone who will read through your book to give you feedback. They can focus on big-picture aspects (plot, theme, pacing, character) or micro-details (grammar, punctuation, narrative flow) or a combination of both. They will prepare thoughtful feedback—both positive and negative—so that you can improve your story.

Four Ways to Find Critique Partners:

1) Go to writing conferences. I have met my very best critique partners at writers’ conferences.

a) Sign up for boot camps, primers, and group workshops and connect with the people you meet with. If you really like something that is read, go up to that person afterward and let them know. Exchange contact info and approach them about trading critiques.

b) Be adventurous at meals. Don’t talk to just your friends! Include other people into your conversation. They might be a great CP fit for you, if you can be brave enough to reach out.

c) When you go to class, look around the room and see if there’s anyone else sitting by themselves. Sit next to them and strike up a conversation. Ask them what they write, and if it’s similar and you seem to connect, bring up the idea of exchanging first chapters.

d) Go to any meet and greets you can. Be prepared to put on your extrovert persona and meet new people. This isn’t junior high. You don’t have to be worried about being ostracized. Just be you—the social side of you no matter how small that side is—and meet new people.

e) Follow up on any social sites the conference is on. If there is a conference FB group—set up for social interactions—join it and be an active participant. Connect with people who you met, even briefly, and talk about a chapter exchange. Be willing to put yourself out there first.

2) Join professional writers groups like SCBWI, RWA, etc.  I belong to ANWA and Storymakers and have met most of my critique partners through the online forums. Be active and connect.

3) Find other online forums to join and meet new authors. I belong to one called Think Tank on Facebook and I know there are several more set up just for finding critique partners.

4) Put yourself out there on social media—meaning don’t be afraid to tell people you’re an author and don’t be afraid to ask for help from your followers and friends. I’ve critiqued for authors who I have connected to because of mutual friends. I know someone who has met most of her critique partners on Twitter, through mutual friends. I’ve “set-up” a couple of critique partnerships because after reading their books, I know they’d be perfect for each other—but I wouldn’t have known that had they not put themselves out there first.

Tips:
  • Do a first chapter exchange before you agree to a full manuscript exchange to make sure you’re a good fit before you commit to an entire manuscript.
  •  Be willing to put yourself out there first and ask if someone would be interested in a manuscript exchange.
  • Don’t expect someone to read your manuscript without a trade. If they spend 20+ hours critiquing your manuscript, you need to be willing to do the same for them.
  • Find a critique partner who is at a similar place as you in this writing journey. The NYT bestselling author whose class you just took would make a better mentor that critique partner (they’re too busy) but those mentor relationships have to come organically—not by asking them to be your mentor.
How have you found your critique partners?

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

June Reads (What I Learned)

I'm the kind of reader who doesn't finish every book I read. Something about the book has to grab me enough to keep me along for the ride (even if I'm not completely in love with the book). Plus, since becoming a writer, I can't seem to read without analyzing everything anymore. In some ways it's taken the enjoyment out of reading, and in other ways, it makes me more of an active reader--constantly learning from other authors from what they do well and where they lost me.

So here are my books from June and the things I felt like I learned from them:

The Fill-In Boyfriend

This book was a sigh-worthy book. I think something that is reinforced in my mind every time I read a Kasie West novel is how romance for teens can be written in a light, non-angsty way and still be un-putdownable. Conflict doesn't have to be death and guns and drugs and gangs to catch a reader's attention--we just have to love the characters enough to want them to succeed in their goal (in this case, she didn't want her friends to think she made up the boyfriend she always talked about, but when he dumps her on prom, she enlists a random boy in the parking lot to pretend to be her boyfriend). This book was a cute read appropriate for even younger teens.


Outlander (Outlander, #1)
Wowza. That's all I can say about this book. Almost 1,000 pages of action, history, adventure, and romance. It has a very epic feel. Because the content level skirted past the line I'm comfortable with, I didn't feel like I could ever let my guard down in this book--and contemplated stopping reading it several times--but her twists and turns and the way she built up the rivalry and conflict kept me turning the pages. This book always had something going on, people moving, another conflict embedded in, and it was never, ever boring.


With No Regrets

This has to be one of the most atmospheric novels I've read all year. I was transported to the South while reading it. I felt like the setting was a huge part of the story and grounded me there. It wasn't a women's fiction that could be set in any time, any place. It had to be in the South, it had to be a woman from a wealthy family, and she had to learn the lessons she learned.


Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)

Throne of Glass is something I've had on my Kindle for forever, but I finally got down to reading it because I was in the mood for a romance/fantasy and this one fit the bill. I loved the climax in the story. The climax felt inevitible, like she had led us there all throughout the story without us even know it, with tension at max capacity. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Amazing Summer Book Sale June 3 - June 7

We're having another FANTASTIC sale on different genres!! If you have friends who love to read, please let them know about this sale!

Thanks!

Imperfect Love
SALE Price $.99
Regular Price $3.99


Lauren Wilson is well on her way to her happily-ever-after. She’s passionate about her career as a middle school English teacher, she adores her handsome, hard-working husband, and with a baby finally on the way, her perfect life is within her grasp. 

But then a devastating test result changes everything. 


Forced to choose between her baby and her husband, Lauren makes the only decision she can live with, and she returns to her small hometown in hopes of rebuilding her shattered life. 


Ethan Campbell is a gifted photographer who travels the world and has no desire to settle down. When his mother dies, he must go home to settle her estate. Then it’s back to exciting adventures across the globe. 


When Lauren crosses paths with Ethan, her teenage crush, old feelings resurface—feelings she’s not prepared to face. Will Lauren have the courage to trust again or will she spend her life alone? 


Imperfect Love is a story about sacrifice, healing, second chances, and discovering that although love isn’t always perfect, sometimes it’s the imperfect love that’s the sweetest of all. 



Spinster's Folly
Marsha Ward
SALE Price $0.99
Regular Price $3.99

Marie Owen yearns for a loving husband, but Colorado Territory is long on rough characters and short on fitting suitors, so a future of spinsterhood seems more likely than wedded bliss. Her best friend says cowboy Bill Henry is a likely candidate, but Marie knows her class-conscious father would not allow such a pairing. When she challenges her father to find her a suitable husband before she becomes a spinster, he arranges a match with a neighbor's son.
Then Marie discovers Tom Morgan would be an unloving, abusive mate and his mother holds a grudge against the Owen family. Marie's mounting despair at the prospect of being trapped in such a dismal marriage drives her into the arms of a sweet-talking predator, landing her in unimaginable dangers.
2013 Winner of the USA Best Book Award for Western Fiction.




A Portrait for Toni
Annette Lyon
SALE Price $0.99
Regular Price $2.99



Toni has no idea what she’d do without her best friend, Carter. Who else would she be able to vent to about her parents, her job at the dance studio, or her latest relationship woes? When Toni’s father lands in the hospital, Carter, as always, is there for her.

That is, until he starts questioning Toni, saying he thinks she has an eating disorder. Then she starts dating Clint, the hot new guy at the studio, and somehow that puts a deeper wedge between her and Carter. When she’s hospitalized after an on-stage collapse, and Carter stupidly starts in with advice about food and weight, she sends him away—then instantly regrets it.

Toni tries to mend the hurt between them, but instead of finding Carter, she stumbles onto proof that he has feelings for her that go way beyond those of a friend. Toni is left with the very real prospect of losing Carter forever, unless somehow she can return his feelings—but that’s impossible.

Isn’t it?

Purchase A Portrait for Toni on Amazon



Grounded for Love: A Reunion Romance Novella
Rebecca Talley
Price $.99


After being burned by her college boyfriend, Graham, book editor Serena Johnson believes the only dependable men are the ones found between the pages of a book. Her life in San Francisco is thrown into chaos when her father suffers a heart attack, and she books a flight to her small hometown in Colorado.

Graham McAllister, now a civil engineer in Phoenix, is dating a woman who has it all—except his heart. As the best man for his brother’s wedding, Graham must fly back to Grand Junction in time for all the festivities.

When a massive snowstorm grounds all the planes in Denver, both Serena and Graham are stranded overnight. Will this storm lead to love or will it simply prove that there are no second chances?
 

Purchase Grounded for Love on Amazon.

Once Upon Two Kingdoms (A Royal Romance)
Anna del C. Dye
Price $2.99

Freedom to Choose is Paramount for any human.

An arrangement made when Elizabeth was just a babe ties her to someone she has never met, never spoken to, never loved. 

Now she desires freedom—a way to choose her own path—her own husband. The moment Elizabeth meets Patrick she knows he is her soul mate. 

But when you are bound to a crown how is any choice your own?






Ring on Her Finger
Lisa Swinton
SALE price $.99
Regular price $3.99

What happened in Vegas should stay there, not follow Amanda home, newly wedded to the man who broke her heart.


After celebrating college graduation with her friends in Las Vegas, Amanda St. Claire wakes up with a terrible hangover and a ring on her finger. Her day gets worse when she finds out she's married to rich playboy Blake Worthington—the guy she has loathed the past four years. Amanda convinces Blake to legally terminate the marriage and they both return home like nothing ever happened. That is, until Blake shows up on her doorstep and Amanda has to come clean with her family. 

Together for better or worse while the legalities are cleared, Amanda reluctantly plays along, but then the unthinkable happens---she finds herself falling in love with Blake. 

Can they overcome the past? Or will it end their future before it even starts? 

Those who enjoy What Happens in Vegas and The Prince and Me will find a kindred spirit in Ring on Her Finger.



Nourish & Strengthen
Maria Hoagland
SALE Price $.99
Regular Price $2.99

Chloe Taylor has the perfect life: a model’s figure, a husband who adores her, three healthy children. So why does she feel so much less than perfect?

After losing forty pounds, Chloe Taylor is finally happy with her body. What she doesn’t realize is that she’s not the one in control. When Chloe is called as the Primary president, she discovers that managing the highs and lows of a chronic illness may be easier than the ups and downs associated with family, friends, and church callings. Consumed by her own challenges, Chloe fails to recognize the issues her friends are facing and is in danger of losing their friendship.

As Chloe strives to develop Christ-like love for herself and those around her, she learns that outer appearances are far less important than inner peace and spiritual strength. But is she strong enough to face her most difficult trial yet?



Family Size
Maria Hoagland
SALE Price $.99
Regular Price $2.99

Is it one-size-fits-all, or all sizes fit? A novel about friendships, faith, and fertility by LDS women's fiction author Maria Hoagland. 

Jessica loves being the mom of an ever-expanding family, but when an ultrasound throws her a curve, can she adapt with grace? 

Dragged away from home, Maya feels deserted by her workaholic husband in a land of confusing accents and church cliques. What will it take to acclimate and save her marriage--or does she even want to? 

Sloane is an algebra teacher and runner who would give up both to be a mom, but no matter what she does, pregnancy remains elusive. Can she adjust her thinking and find purpose in her life? 

As their lives intertwine, can friendship and faith help these women hurdle expectations of an ideal family size? 






Intercession
Vicki Hunt Budge
SALE Price $.99
Regular Price $3.99

In The Darkest Hours of Addiction, A Light Shines 

When Jessica Mobley's husband abandons her and flies off to Mexico to meet another woman, it's the tip of the iceberg. She soon unravels his porn addiction and her financial ruin. 

Jessica tries to keep up an appearance that all is well, but ultimately she resorts to drastic measures to support her three children. She guts part of her home to start a preschool and rents out another two rooms. 

Her life is soon filled with new friends and activities, but the new friends bring problems of their own. Is hope and healing possible as they strengthen one another and rely on the Lord? And will romance find its way into Jessica's heart again? 

Intercession is a story of love and friendship loaded with drama, inspiration, loss and the tenacity of one woman who finds her strength in the Lord





Begin Again
Brittney Mulliner
SALE Price $.99

Escaping her past, Aubrey Tate moves to Southern California for a fresh start with her older brother, Brandon. Starting over at a new school seems easy with her cousin, Mckayla, and her two best friends at her side, but handling the new guys is another matter. Aubrey ends up in the middle of three rivals that each wants her to themselves. 

Mike claims her first and declares himself her friend and protector. Luke is the school heartthrob that stops Aubrey in her tracks, speechless. Gage is the mysterious, dark outsider that Aubrey can be herself around. 

How will she navigate her new life while she's still haunted by her past?



IDEAL HIGH
Valerie Ipson
Price $2.99

There’s no way I’m taking Blake’s place as president of the student body. As soon as the memorial for him and six of our friends is over, I’m resigning as VP. Really.
Except people say the fire was no accident.
(I say it’s way too easy to blame someone who’s dead.)
When I read the writing on the wall, literally, the bathroom wall, I know what it means. To get to the truth I have to come out from under my paisley comforter.
But, seriously, what stage of grief says I have to be the one to fix what’s wrong at Ideal High? Maybe I’m the one who’s broken.





What Every 6th Grader Needs to Know: 10 Secrets to Connect Moms & Daughters
Rachelle J. Christensen
Connie E. Sokol
Price $1.99

Is your daughter asking questions about friends, peer pressure, school, and even her weight?

As a mom, are you wondering how to answer them?

Welcome to the club.

But you can relax. Because we’ve asked real sixth-grade girls to dish on their top secret questions. And, we’ve provided time-tested real-life answers that work.

Add to that an enjoyable format. The “Just for Girls” section speaks right to your daughter in words and ways she understands. The “Just for Moms” section talks straight to moms, giving you information, resources, and easy-to-share answers. We include tips for how to start, handle, and enjoy the conversations no matter the situation.

Create connected conversations with your daughter as you explore these life questions together. Get plain facts and jumpstart questions. Discuss the provided scenarios so she can practice responses to use in real-time. Download decorative cards with positive statements and fun fill-in sentences.

Use What Every Girl Needs to Know About 6th Grade to make it happen. Together, answer questions and create connection.

You got this.




Interlude at Cottonwood Springs
Liz Adair
Price $2.99
Audiobook: $21.83 (or free with Audible trial)

Ruth Reynolds moves in wealthy New York circles. Heck Benham rides the range in the high plateau of New Mexico. 

When she comes west during the Great Depression chance throws them together, and they fall in love. But she's a married lady, and he's an honorable man.







The Extraordinarily Ordinary Life of Cassandra Jones (MG)
Tamara Hart Heiner
SALE Price $.99

What's special about Cassandra? Absolutely nothing. She's as ordinary as any other fifth grader. And yet her ordinary life is riddled with hilarious and sometimes heart-breaking mishaps as she guides herself through the world of pre-teens on the brink of adulthood. 

Cassandra Jones is the new girl at school. She's been uprooted from her beloved state of Texas and relocated to the hillbilly Ozarks of Springdale, Arkansas. She wonders if she will like her teacher or if she will have any friends. She can only hope school won't be harder than it was back home. 

She doesn't expect to have two close friends, and even worse, two friends that don't like each other. As she tries to make a spot for herself, will she keep her friendships intact? 



Best Kind of Love: A Reunion Romance Novella
Rebecca Talley
Price $.99

Brynn Sawyer is a successful project manager in Houston. When her best friend from high school convinces Brynn to attend their ten-year reunion, Brynn hopes she’ll have the chance to reconnect with Troy Richards, the guy who stole her heart back in middle school. 

Craig Dawson, an attorney in San Diego, is in a relationship that’s going nowhere and wonders why he can’t seem to commit. When he sees Brynn at their reunion, he thinks he might finally understand why. The only problem—she’s still infatuated with Troy what’s-his-name. 

Will Brynn find the love she seeks with Troy, or will she realize the best kind of love has always been right in front of her? 




Silver Linings
Kaylee Baldwin
Price $.99

Drew Westfall wants nothing more than to forget what he had to do in the name of "smart" business. Cutting off all ties with his parents—including handing over the entire contents of his trust fund to a charity—he takes off for Bridger, Colorado where his best friend has an extra room for him. It doesn't take long for him to realize that his business degree won’t do him much good in a town as small as Bridger, but he's broke and has nowhere else to go. 

Eden Torresi has every reason to wallow. Not only did she have to sell her house to pay for her mother’s medical expenses, but she had to drop out of school and is in a relationship with a guy unwilling to commit. But Eden isn't the wallowing type. Instead, she spends most of her time taking care of the seniors at Silver Linings Assisted Living. When she learns that her boyfriend's new roommate is down on his luck, she reaches out to offer what help she can. But the more time they spend together, the more complicated things get, especially when the seniors of Silver Linings decide to play matchmaker.





Six Days of Christmas
Kaylee Baldwin
Price $.99

When Natalie goes home with her best friend for Christmas, she expects plenty of quiet time to work on a winning ad so she can turn her dream internship into her dream job. 

Instead, she gets time-consuming Christmas festivities, a house full of children who seem to be multiplying, and Jimmy, her best friend’s brother—someone who makes her question everything she’s always thought she wanted. 






Life Soup
Pamela Lynn France

Price $6.99 (ebook)


This is a true story told using the memories of a child - my inner child. It is a story of survival - a love story without romance, but hope. It tells of the age old struggle between good and evil, light and dark forces around us.

Jesus Christ has been saving souls throughout human history. Thankfully He is a part of my story...




Monday, June 1, 2015

Books I Read in May

I love seeing what people are reading. One of my very favorite things to talk about is books, and when I'm meeting someone new or there's a lull in the conversation, I can almost always bring around a book I've been reading--or ask them what they've been reading--and it picks right up.

Even the people who think "I don't read very much" usually have at least one good book they've read that they loved and want to share with people.

Another thing about me: I have a difficult time reading just for enjoyment anymore. With being a writer, I am constantly analyzing what people did well (or did poorly on)in their books, I so I can try to emulate (or avoid) those things.

Also. I read a lot. I'm a fast reader, I don't watch much television, and whenever I have even a minute of downtime, I'm pulling out a book.


Undeniably Yours (Porter Family #1)

I read Undeniably Yours on my Kindle. I was in the mood for a fun, contemporary romance, the sample for this one sucked me in, and I ended up buying it. I love how the author sets up the conflict right in the first couple of chapters. I don't usually buy my books when they're full price, but because of how well-written those first few chapters were, I had to keep reading.

23453182

A Heart Revealed is another other one that I ended up buying on my Kindle. I've been craving smartly-written, unique romances and this one fit the bill for me. We all know that in a romance, the hero and heroine are going to get together in the end, and reading the book is all about the journey to the HEA (happily ever after). A lot of the romances I've been reading have been SO, SO predictable. I absolutely loved that I haven't really read a storyline like this before. She took a less common trope  to start with (wealthy, gorgeous girl/poor man) and twisted it up even more so that I loved every single page.

693208

I read some of Sherman Alexie's poetry and short stories in college, but I was really excited to get into this novel. I bought it at the used bookstore a few months ago. Something that Alexie does so well is go beyond the stereotype. I read something on FB this week--a quote I'm going to butcher and not attribute because I don't remember who said it--but it was something like: the problem with stereotypes aren't that they're untrue. It's that they take a three dimensional person and boil them down to one dimension and one concept. Alexie makes Junior three dimensional and somehow tells a totally heartbreaking story in a hilarious and inspiring way.

16045306

Breathe Annie Breathe is very much character-driven, but it's still a story that's hard to walk away from. I love how she makes me connect with her characters, feel their pain, and root for them to reach their goals. The only thing I wish she'd do differently (and this is a personal thing--we all have our "things" and this is mine) is to leave out some of the sexual content. It's mild in this book, but still keeps me from recommending it to the teens I know, who would otherwise love this book. I picked this one up when it was a Kindle daily deal, and I'll probably buy the next one the minute it comes out.


25459562

I love Jolene. She's one of my critique partners, so I've read almost all of her books, but this one came up in my Goodreads feed--and another cp Tiffany had read it and loved it, so I bought it. I needed something to read while I printed out hundreds of papers for the Slush pile Panel for the Storymaker Conference. This book was PERFECT. So light, so heartfelt, and everything that I love about Jolene's writing. She makes me want to write another novella, just because they're so fun and perfect for that late-night read.

19004115

And then I realized I never read this book! I own the paperback version of it (Thank you, Grandma) so I pulled it out and started reading it right away. Again, Jolene has a talent with romance and making you feel "all the feels." I feel like her stories have flow, which is so important. They're not over-worked, but organically go from one part of the story to the next, which is something I'd love to emulate in my own writing.

16005537

I've owned this one for at least a year (probably longer) and just haven't gotten around to reading it. I got sick with a flu bug this month and just needed something light to help me forget how much I wanted to vomit. This fit the bill. I've been toying with doing a retelling (Ranee Clark and I have been throwing around an idea of co-writing a retelling for a few years now. It will happen someday!) so I love reading how other people do it. My favorite ones are when they stray far enough from the original telling that it feels like a somewhat new story--I can't predict every single twist and turn--but they're close enough, or at least have enough nods to the original story--that it gets my book-geek heart all aflutter. The only thing I would have liked more in this were more scenes with the hero and heroine together, falling in love.


16071764

My friend, Melanie Jacobson, was talking about this book at the Storymaker conference, so I decided to download the sample when I got home. After reading it, I was hooked and bought the book. (I buy a lot of books.) I ate this book up. Devoured it. I have said to someone before (Melanie, actually), "I don't have the personality to lead." After reading this book, I change my mind.* I want every woman to read this book. For real. More than telling women to give everything to your career (which it doesn't do), it's about having confidence in yourself, using your strengths, and "leaning in" wherever you are. Don't give up because you think you can't do something. Do it, and you'll learn as you go. I will probably reread it--at least the parts I highlighted.

*This is the power of a good book. It changed me.


23199731

Cindy is another one of those authors that when I need an escape for a few hours, I go download one of her books. I love her contemporaries (I haven't read her paranormals) when I need something that's going to wrench my heart in the best of ways. I love all the complications she gives her characters and how her book is about accepting the things you can't change and overcoming the things you can. I bought this book on my Kindle as well. :)

What have you been reading this month?
What should I add to my reading list for June?