October Challenge Reviews
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Prize for October: Three (3) winners will win a complete eBook collection from Heather Wardell. Titles included are: Life, Love, and a Polar Bear Tattoo, Go Small or Go Home, Planning to Live, Stir Until Thoroughly Confused, A Life That Fits, Live Out Loud, and Seven Exes Are Eight Too Many. You must post the link to your review in the Mister Linky below. This can be to your blog, GoodReads page, or other sources such as Amazon.
Special Note: For every review that is posted during the month of October, I will be donating $1 to the Susan G. Komen Organization in conjunction with breast cancer awareness month. If you would like to make a donation, please see the PayPal Donate button on the right hand side of this page, or email me directly at Samantha (at) ChickLitPlus (dot) com. Thank you!
**The October review pages is now closed.**
The winners are: Nancy- Chick Lit Bee, Jill S, and Sarah- Today I’m Reading.
I don’t believe in writing absolute garbage just to have words on the page, but I also don’t believe in editing while writing a first draft. I’ll write, “Ian smelled great” in the first draft, and by the final draft it’ll be, “I closed my eyes and breathed in Ian’s scent of fabric softener and lumber. Only the wife of a carpenter would find the smell of wood sexy.” The short version is fine for a first draft, and it avoids me sitting there staring at the screen or page trying to find the perfect words. The first draft isn’t about perfect words. It’s about words that do the job.
So how do you get from “Ian smelled great” to the more detailed lines? Here’s how I do it.
This picture shows a page from one of my current projects, which I plan to release in early 2011. The main character, Mary, has just been turned down for her dream chef job and is now camping out on the restaurant’s doorstep until the owner Kegan agrees to hire her. On this particular page, Mary goes to a nearby coffee shop and is then confronted by one of Kegan’s staff members.
Note that I am working on a print-out, double-spaced and single-sided, of the manuscript. It might seem like a waste of paper, but take a look at how many notes I’ve added (and this is an average page, not one with unusually high changes). Trying to squish those into tiny margins would make the process impossible.
I use my own code to mark up the pages. There’s a “No P” scrawled about halfway down, which means that I don’t want a new paragraph there, and “New P” in the second last paragraph where I do want one. There are official proofreading markings out there, but I find them too hard to remember. These are just for me so I can use whatever I want.
Before going through the book scene-by-scene, I like to read the entire book top to bottom. I do my best not to fiddle with or peek at the manuscript between revisions, so this read brings it back to my mind and also lets me get an overview of what’s really on the page instead of what I think I’ve written. It’s amazing how different those two can be.
After that, I start with the first scene and read it sentence by sentence. At least, I try to. In practice I bounce around the page, making a correction in sentence five and then going back to change the change when I hit sentence eight. But I do give each sentence my full attention at least once.
I’m watching for emotions and physical sensations and people’s movement in space. I’m making sure that I haven’t over-complicated a situation. (In the first draft I had Mary carrying a cushion around so she didn’t have to sit on the cold concrete in the rain. I removed it because it didn’t add anything but an unnecessary prop.)
I’m also analyzing how I’ve put the words together: if I repeat words or re-use a structure, I want to be sure I’ve done it intentionally. (I learned so much about this from Margie Lawson’s “Deep EDITS” online course; while I don’t use her actual editing technique I still refer to my notes for the rhetorical devices that can add such depth and interest to writing.)
Be especially vigilant in the early scenes. Finding a character’s voice can take a while, and I for one tend to do the written equivalent of running around in circles yelling, “Hey, where are you?” at the beginning of a book, which results in a lot of unnecessary elements.
When I’ve finished a scene, I type it in right away. (Take another look at the notes above. If I left it until I’d finished the whole book, I’d have no idea what I was trying to do!) I don’t type mindlessly, though. I read as I go and pay careful attention, and often change a word here or there as I enter the corrections.
After the typing, I re-read the scene, out loud if I can and in my head if I can’t, to make sure it all flows, and then it’s on to the next.
I won’t bore you with the second draft of the entire page shown above, but I will give you the before-and-after versions of the last few paragraphs.
“He’s said it himself and it didn’t make any difference.”
She squatted down in front of me. “I’ve worked for Kegan since he opened Steel, longer than anyone else here. So listen up. What you’re doing is pointless. If you think he’s going to feel bad because you look so pathetic–”
“I don’t think that.”
I wouldn’t have expected him to do such a thing. “He’s said it himself and it didn’t make any difference. Why does he think sending you would work better?”
She didn’t bother answering. “I’ve worked for Kegan since he opened Steel, longer than anyone else here. So listen up. What you’re doing is pointless. He’ll never hire you. He said as much yesterday when we asked why you were out here.”
My stomach twisted at this revelation. He really didn’t plan to hire me if he’d told his staff. But she’d probably pass along whatever response I gave, so I made myself smile and say, “We’ll see.”
She rolled her eyes. “If you think he’s going to feel bad because you look so pathetic–”
“I don’t think that.”
You can see that I did make additional changes as I typed in the corrections, adding a few short sentences and reorganizing some words. I view the typing stage as one more chance to make the book shine.
This book’s edit took me about seven weeks (I work Monday-Friday) and I did about ten pages a day. It’s tiring, and occasionally frustrating when the right word just won’t come to mind, but it’s important. This is a tough industry, and you don’t want to send out your book with any rough edges that might bother agents and editors. If you choose to self-publish instead, you still need a thoroughly edited book written to the highest standard you can reach, because readers deserve that. Put in the time and you’ll be amazed at how wonderful your book can be!
Madeleine-Cora Spencer, or MC, gets a little too drunk one night and decides to sign up for a reality dating show. Her love life is nothing to boast about, so why not? When she is chosen for the show, reality isn’t what it seems. Instead of a Bachelor-esque type dating show, MC is forced into the jungle with seven of her exes! Just when MC didn’t think having her personal life displayed on public TV was bad enough, another ex enters the picture- the one she may still be in love with.
Seven Exes Are Eight Too Many by Heather Wardell paints a realistic picture of reality TV. Lies, schemes, backstabbing, and not just among teammates, but the production crew as well! The behind the scene look of a craze that has swept society is an interesting concept for a novel, and with Wardell’s excellently placed humor and knack for bringing characters to life, it works. The main character may be slightly (mostly) neurotic, but her flaws only make her that much more relatable for readers. The seven exes each have distinct personalities, and I could easily love them or hate them. A few areas left me a little unsettled though: the concept of the reality show and the producer lying about what the contestants signed up for, and the ending. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but the finale episode didn’t do the story justice, in my opinion. Still an excellent novel from the always clever Heather Wardell, and I would recommend you check out Seven Exes Are Eight Too Many.
Author Name: Heather Wardell
Bio: Growing up, I was an avid (rabid?) reader. I am a natural speed reader, regularly clocked at about 1200 wpm (I read Harry Potter 5 in just under three hours), and always have several books on the go and many more in e-book form on my Palm handheld.
I have always made up stories in my head, but never considered becoming a writer. Instead, I intended to be a high school music teacher. I was sidetracked by my enjoyment of my psychology courses in university, and ended up with a psychology degree with a concentration in computer science.
This took me to a major Canadian bank as a software developer. I stayed there for just over four years, and then went back to school to become an elementary school teacher. After four years teaching elementary school computer science, I took up the National Novel Writing Month challenge and attempted to write a novel in a month.
I succeeded, and the first draft of “Life, Love, and a Polar Bear Tattoo” was the result. I realized I love writing. I left teaching, and I haven’t looked back since!
In my non-writing time, I read, run, swim, crochet (I am on Ravelry and would be happy to add you as a friend!), take care of my 55 gallon aquarium and my cat Sapphire, and play clarinet. Generally not all at once.
Titles: Life, Love, and Polar Bear Tattoo; Go Small or Go Home; Seven Exes Are Eight Too Many; and Planning to Live.
Bio Retrieved from www.heatherwardell.com
In My Mailbox: Week of August 15th
Title: Go Small or Go Home
Author: Heather Wardell
Received: From Heather Wardell
Synopsis: When massage therapist and aspiring artist Tess begins treating stressed but attractive hockey star Forrest, her art career soars due to his gallery-owning mother, but her creativity plummets under the weight of rules and deadlines. Soon, she’s lost the freedom and joy she’d always found in art. Is having her dream career worth losing doing her art her way, or can she somehow have both at once?
Title: Vivian Rising
Author: Daniella Brodsky
Received: From Stephanie DeLuca (Gallery Books)
Synopsis: Vivian Sklar has always depended on her wise and feisty grandmother—ever since Viv’s mother took off twenty years ago. When Grams dies, Viv feels hopeless and completely alone. As she searches for something to believe in again, Viv finds hope in a most unlikely place: the cluttered second-story walk-up of Kavia, an alarmingly perceptive astrologer. Viv is skeptical—she thinks horoscopes are as reliable as fortune cookies—but when Kavia’s first reading dissuades her from taking a train that later crashes, she’s hooked. Under Kavia’s guidance, Viv begins to process her grief and rebalance her life. Every prediction Kavia makes seems to speak directly to Viv’s life, and so far, the stars haven’t steered her wrong. It’s all finally going well, until the stars tell her something she doesn’t want to hear—that the bond Viv has forged with the insightful yet guarded Len isn’t meant to last. Now, she might just have to learn to have faith in herself…
Title: Seven Exes are Eight Too Many
Author: Heather Wardell
Received: From Heather Wardell
Synopsis: The fiercely private Madeleine-Cora Spencer is the last person who should be on a reality TV show, but when she’s shunned by a friend’s new wife because “you can’t trust desperate single women” her pain and humiliation drive her straight to the “Find Your Prince” dating show’s web site. Armed with date-appropriate clothes and a detailed game plan she arrives to meet her potential loves, only to be dumped… on a remote island with seven ex-boyfriends. Seven exes! Could this be any worse?
Title: Georgia’s Kitchen
Author: Jenny Nelson
Received: From BookSparks PR
Synopsis: At thirty-three, talented chef Georgia Gray has everything a woman could want—the top job at one of Manhattan’s best restaurants; a posse of smart and savvy gal pals who never let her down; and a platinum-set, cushion-cut diamond engagement ring courtesy of Glenn, the handsome entertainment lawyer who Georgia’s overbearing mother can’t wait for her to marry. The table is set for the ambitious bride-to-be until a scathing restaurant review destroys her reputation. To add salt to her wounds, Glenn suddenly calls off the wedding. Brokenhearted, Georgia escapes to the Italian countryside, where she sharpens her skills at a trattoria run by a world-class chef who seems to have it all—a devoted lover, a magnificent villa, and most important, a kitchen of her own. Georgia quells her longings with Italy’s delectable offerings: fine wine, luscious cheeses, cerulean blue skies, and irresistible Gianni—an expert in the vineyard and the bedroom. So when Gianni tempts Georgia to stay in Italy with an offer no sane top chef could refuse, why can’t she say yes? An appetite for something more looms large in Georgia’s heart – the desire to run her own restaurant in the city she loves. But having left New York with her career in flames, she’ll need to stir up more than just courage if she’s to realize her dreams and find her way home.
Title: Love in Mid Air
Author: Kim Wright
Received: SheKnows Book Club Selection
Synopsis: A chance encounter with a stranger on an airplane sends Elyse Bearden into an emotional tailspin. Suddenly Elyse is willing to risk everything: her safe but stale marriage, her seemingly perfect life in an affluent Southern suburb, and her position in the community. She finds herself cutting through all the instincts that say “no” and instead lets “yes” happen. As Elyse embarks on a risky affair, her longtime friend Kelly and the other women in their book club begin to question their own decisions about love, sex, marriage, and freedom. There are consequences for Elyse, her family, and her circle of close friends, all of whom have an investment in her life continuing as normal. But is normal what she really wants after all? In the end it will take an extraordinary leap of faith for Elyse to find–and follow–her own path to happiness. An intelligent, sexy, absorbing tale and an honest look at modern-day marriage, Love in Mid Air offers the experience of what it’s like to change the course of one’s own destiny when finding oneself caught in mid air.
Title: She’s Gone Country
Author: Jane Porter
Received: From BookSparks PR
Synopsis: Shey Darcy, a 39-year-old former top model for Vogue and Sports Illustrated led a charmed life in New York City with a handsome photographer husband until the day he announced he’d fallen in love with someone else. Left to pick up the pieces of her once happy world, Shey decides to move back home to Texas with her three teenage sons. Life on the family ranch, however, brings with it a whole new host of dramas starting with differences of opinion with her staunch Southern Baptist mother, her rugged but overprotective brothers, and daily battles with her three sons who are also struggling to find themselves. Add to the mix Shey’s ex-crush, Dane Kelly, a national bullriding champ and she’s got her hands full. It doesn’t take long before Shey realizes that in order to reinvent herself, she must let go of an uncertain future and a broken past, to find happiness—and maybe love—in the present.
Title: John Belushi is Dead
Author: Kathy Charles
Received: From Gallery Books
Synopsis: Pink-haired Hilda and oddball loner Benji are not your typical teenagers. Instead of going to parties or hanging out at the mall, they comb the city streets and suburban culs-de-sac of Los Angeles for sites of celebrity murder and suicide. Bound by their interest in the macabre, Hilda and Benji neglect their schoolwork and their social lives in favor of prowling the most notorious crime scenes in Hollywood history and collecting odd mementos of celebrity death. Hilda and Benji’s morbid pastime takes an unexpected turn when they meet Hank, the elderly, reclusive tenant of a dilapidated Echo Park apartment where a silent movie star once stabbed himself to death with a pair of scissors. Hilda feels a strange connection with Hank and comes to care deeply for her paranoid new friend as they watch old movies together and chat the sweltering afternoons away. But when Hank’s downstairs neighbor Jake, a handsome screenwriter, inserts himself into the equation and begins to hint at Hank’s terrible secrets, Hilda must decide what it is she’s come to Echo Park searching for . . . and whether her fascination with death is worth missing out on life.