Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Hottie Hero Crushes




Ever had a crush on a hero in a novel? Oh, come on, tell the truth. Okay, if you can't admit it, I will. I often find myself crushing on the heroes in the books I read. How can I not, they're usually nuclear hot and either really good at being bad or just the 'sweetest thangs' (Yes, I meant 'thangs'; I'm from Texas, sometimes when I get excited, my accent gets outta hand).

This morning I was driving my daughter to school and found myself thinking of one of my critique partner's heroes. Ultra hot hottie that he is, he's still sweet and thoughtful. The kind of guy I wish I could force my own daughters to marry (yeah, like that's gonna happen).

Sorry, I digress.

Anyway, I thought it might be fun for us to share our ultimate hero crushes. To make this even more fun, we'll have a little contest. You could win a HARDCOVER copy of SHATTER ME by Tarhereh Mafi, which features not one, but two hotties. One you'll love to love, the other you'll love to hate. See my review of SHATTER ME on this blog. TRUST ME, you want this book, it's frickin' awesome!

So, in your own words, describe your hottest hero crush. You can tell us about his looks, his attitude, whatever you want, but make it good. I don't mind if he's from your own book, or someone else's, or even if he's just from your imagination.

I'll start us off with a description of Gabe, the hero in my book DEVASTATION.

At six-foot-four, his blacker than black hair shines in the hot sun, throwing off rainbows of purple, blue, and green. His frayed blue jeans and old t-shirt with the sleeves cut out, showing off tanned, muscular arms, have seen better days. Broke down, worn out boots complete his ultra hot cowboy look. Dusty all over, with smatterings of dried dirt caked here and there, he looks up from under impossibly thick, ink black lashes, piercing you with glacier blue eyes. A five o'clock shadow has taken up residence on his strong jaw. The lopsided smile hovering over the cleft of his chin makes him poster-boy perfect.
Here are the important details:
Okay, now it's your turn. TO ENTER, use the comments section below. IF YOUR HERO is from a book already in print DO NOT TELL US, that might skew voting, and he'll be disqualified. You must describe the hero in your own words, not with a quote from an already pubbed book.
Whoever gets the most votes, from different folks, will win (please don't be one of those people who creates a bunch of identities just to win a book). You can enter as many different heroes as you choose.

TO VOTE, please reply directly to the post you like - not just a general reply, but by clicking the reply link for that particular entry. You can vote for as many heroes as you like. FOR A VOTE TO COUNT, it must say I VOTE FOR YOU at the top of the reply in all caps (this will make it easy to see which ones are votes and which ones which are just comments about the hotness of the heroes). Any votes not cast properly will be discarded.

Voting will be open through 11 PM CDT, October 30, 2012. Get your hottie hero posted soon, so you have lots of time for votes to be cast for him. I'll tally the votes and post the winner no later than the following Friday, November 2nd, at 11 PM CDT.

Here's all the other fun stuff:

Please don't post your entry as 'anonymous', it will make it hard to find you. If there's a tie, we'll have a run off time period of one week (ending 11 PM CDT, November 6th, w/ the winner posted Friday, November 9th by 11 PM CDT) to allow for voting between the top candidates. If for some reason, we get stuck and can't get to a conclusion within that week, I'll enlist three of my CP's to cast votes (anonymously) and choose for us.

Once the winner is chosen, I'll make a reasonable amount of attempts to contact the winner so they can get me their address. If I don't hear back from the winner by November 13th, (or in case of run-off, November 20th), I'll send the book to the runner-up (same contact rules apply). Sorry, but I'll only ship to the contiguous United States.

Don't have a hero to tell us about, not to worry, you can win your own copy of SHATTER ME in paperback by doing a few simple things, using Rafflecopter below. This contest will go through November 6th. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, September 21, 2012


Oh, man! There is nothing like a first kiss. Reading about it is wonderful, writing about it even better. Why? If it's not quite hot enough you can always turn up the heat. I've been tweaking my MS for the hundredth time, and just reworked my MC's first kiss.

Call me crazy, but I wanted to share it. I won't tell you where it happens in the story, because eventually you'll be able to read it once I manage to get this baby pubbed, so I don't want to ruin the story for anyone. I did remove a couple of lines which would have given away which scene it follows.

But, I just love this so much, I want to share. Rate LEXA'S FIRST KISS  from 1 to 5 (1 low-5 high) in the comments below. If you want to share your own first kiss or first kiss scene, feel free! Then there will be several for all of us romantics to enjoy.

Told from LEXA's POV.

I’d embarrassed myself enough for one evening, so I spun on my heel to go. As I stepped away, his hand touched my arm. When I turned back, Gabe stood only inches from me. I tried to step back, but he held just tight enough to stop me.

He whispered, “Wait.”

My tongue was thick, stopping me from saying a word. The speed of my pulse and the waves of adrenaline washing over me were confusing. His eyes said he was uncertain as they focused on me. I managed to get my brain in gear and tried to pull back again. He snaked his other arm around my waist, pulling me up so we were chest to chest, hip to hip.

“I-I.” Something pressed into my belly. Reality set in and my eyes went wide. Shit. He’s gonna kiss me. I trembled, sure he knew it.

He lowered his head to mine, running his hand up my arm to the back of my head, cupping it gently. Closing his eyes,  he ever so gently brushed his lips across mine. The world tilted and my heart stopped. I was plunged into darkness, when his mouth brushed back the other direction.

There were a million butterflies. No. Birds. Huge frickin’ birds, trying to escape the pit of my stomach. My heart gave a beat, then one more, struggling to life again. I stood statue still. I couldn’t have moved if I’d wanted to. A gentle bit of pressure as he took my bottom lip between his, nibbling tenderly. His tongue traced the seam of my mouth. Soft. Excruciating.

I sighed. When my lips parted he darted in, then back out. Chocolate. Every thought in my head jumped ship, leaving only his lips on mine, his tongue exploring gently, my insides liquefying, while tingles danced up my back.

He nipped my bottom lip again, and a thought presented itself. Do something to participate in your first kiss, idiot. Just then he pulled back and set me away from him. My surprise that the kiss ended so quickly was almost as great as my shock that he’d kissed me in the first place.

“Now, you don’t have to worry ‘bout that first kiss. It’s done.”

So that's it. Lexa's very first kiss.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Notes To My CP About Her MS

It's been a few days since I've posted anything, mostly because I've been busy working on two of my CP's MSs and trying to get my own MS's synopsis nailed down. Well, I finished one of my CP's MS today and sent it off. She came back and asked me for my general thoughts on her MS.

Okay, here's the thing. I LIKE my new CP, she's really nice and there's just no way in hell I'd ever want to hurt her feelings. But... yes, there is always a 'but'... I pride myself on being the kind of person who can be counted on to tell the truth, even when the truth isn't what someone wants to hear. So if you don't really want to know if that dress makes your ass look big, for Heaven's sake, don't ask me; ask someone who you can count on to lie to you!

Since this particular CP just so happens to be crit'ing my MS right about now, I certainly don't want her to think I was being overly critical or anything about hers, because I don't want that to color the way she sees my own work. However, I DO want her to be honest with me, because if she's not, then what the hell's the point anyway? I mean, she could be really sweet and blow smoke up my ass and tell me how awesome my MS is and I'd feel fantastic.

That is, I'd feel fantastic until I start getting rejection letters out the wazoo (not for my query, but for my MS). If she's just really nice to me, it won't help me make my MS the best it can be before I send it out to agents who will  *x-ing fingers* be requesting fulls, once they read my soon to be perfect query *again, x-ing fingers*.

So, even though my notes to my CP may seem nitpicky at first blush, I find I hope she's just as 'nitpicky' with my MS. Because it's through that process I'll be able to hone my MS to a sharpness which will spear the attention and interest of agents around the world *grand applause*, or at least get someone's attention somewhere.

After tap-tap-tapping out my email to her, I had the brilliant thought (okay, maybe I'm the only one who thinks it's brilliant) 'others may benefit from my notes to her.' Because I know for a fact many of the things I noted about her MS are things one of my other CPs noted to me about my own MS and surely there are others out there who might also have some of these issues with their MSs.

So, since you've read this far, you may as well read on. The following is the redacted version of the email I sent my CP just a few minutes ago. I redacted it because it's not my place to blab details of her novel.

Keep in mind, this was the answer to her request for "any general thoughts? Did you like it? think it was so so? Parts to elaborate on? Characters?"

Hey CP,

Overall I like your plot. I like your characters too.

I think you could probably cut the conversations with CHARACTER WHO REALLY ISN'T CENTRAL TO THE PLOT, I think they slow things down and aren't really necessary to the plot, I know you added them to give us another demension to YOUR MC, but I don't think they help anything. If they hammered out some details about what was happening that would be different, but that's just  my opinion.

And even having read the end of the story, I still think you should remove the lecture by the biology teacher, just say YOUR MC remembers what she learned about IMPORTANT DETAILS ABOUT HUMAN ANATOMY in class, for teens this WILL suffice, I think I can safely guarantee it. I asked my 17 y/o and she agrees with me.

General thoughts: Hmmm... I told you I'd be really honest, but sometimes that's hard to do without sounding harsh, but I'll just be honest and hope you take it as I mean it and not as me being mean... especially since I'm really looking forward to hearing  your thoughts on my MS.... *smiles shyly*

I do think the MS could be tightened up. Here's why:

There are lots of filters ( http://robbgrindstaff.com/2011/07/do-you-filter-your-fiction/ )and a lot of telling not showing ( http://jerz.setonhill.edu/writing/creative1/showing/ ). Filters take your reader away from being in the moment; you want them to feel they are right there in the action.

I think there are a lot of words you don't need, in other words, your MS has some flab which could be trimmed. I did some of this with my edits, but there are probably still more. ( http://www.writerstreasure.com/concise-writing-tips/  &  http://casablancaauthors.blogspot.com/2012/07/toning-up-flabby-writing.html?spref=tw ) Keep in mind, at the end of my first draft my MS word count was 175k, I trimmed it down to 94k... that was A WHOLE LOTTA FAT!

Something I did with my MS was do a search through the MS on some of the words you may want to remove, 'weasel words' ( http://www.livewritethrive.com/2012/07/20/pop-goes-the-weasel-word/  &  http://wordsharpeners.wordpress.com/2009/06/29/words-writers-should-delete/ ). Words like:
check the links listed above for others.

Some other things I tried to do with my MS, even though I'm sure I didn't do it completely, was to remove weak verbs ( http://prosekiln.com/improve-your-writing-by-eliminating-weak-verbs/ ) and tried to keep from using too many passive verbs ( http://voices.yahoo.com/passive-voice-linking-verbs-wordiness-1986618.html?cat=4 ).

You have a lot of dialogue tags, which I think could and should be changed to either simply use 'asked' and 'said', or 'ask' and 'say' in your case, the rest I think could be changed to action tags and eliminate all, or at least most of, the 'other words for said and asked' ( http://www.writing-world.com/fiction/said.shtml & http://edittorrent.blogspot.com/2008/02/dialogue-tags.html ).

Some of the MS seemed a little stiff or formal for the story to be told from a teen's view. Something that may help with that is to read it aloud to yourself, if it seems awkward when you say it out loud, it probably seems that way to the reader as well. I did this ALLOOTTT with mine, and yet, still may have some places where it doesn't flow as well as I'd like it to.

I tried to make notes on some of the areas where I saw these things.

I did notice, after the first half it moved a lot quicker and was easier to be pulled in. Probably because you worked on that a little more before I got to it, so it was tighter already.

The pacing seemed all right overall. But you may want to check this out, and see for yourself if it's what you were going for ( http://www.writersdigest.com/tip-of-the-day/7-tools-for-pacing-a-novel-keeping-your-story-moving-at-the-right-pace ).

Okay, I know... that's a ton (but if you look at it, most of the text above is comprised of the links I added) :)

I know I told you this early on, but the reason I added the links was because I want you to go check them out, take time to read them over and look at your MS with these ideas in mind. Plus, this way you know WHY I'm saying what I'm saying... it certainly isn't because I'm the be all end all on wisdom in writing, in fact, the opposite is true. I found these really helpful and hopefully you will, too.

Now that I've given you my utterly unpolished honest opinions, please keep in mind: they are just that... my opinions. You can choose to use or discard any or all of them, and that's perfectly all right!
I think you've got the start of an amazing novel; it just needs a little more polish and shine.

Please don't hate me... I hope we're still friends and CPs.

You are awesome, don't forget that, and I really DO like your book,  even though with all the comments above you may think I'm overly critical, which is not at all what I'm trying to be.

I hope this helps you and doesn't discourage you. I DON'T WANT you to be discouraged. I want to ENCOURAGE you and EMPOWER you to make your novel the best it can be.

Take care, my friend,

So that's it folks, my notes to my CP on my general thoughts about her MS. I know there are a butt load of links, but if you can find the time to visit those links, I know you and your writing will be better for it.

Leave comments below and let me know what you think. Is there anything you find yourself saying or hearing from your own CPs which might benefit others to hear? Just as little FYI, I did let her know I was going to post these notes :). Have a fantastic week.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


I eat books. Not literally. But I can never read enough. My raging desire to read another book has been one of my biggest distractions from my own writing. My latest read was SHATTER ME by Tahereh Mafi, which I finished yesterday morning, after having stayed up way too late, 1 AM, reading. Then I got up at 6 AM, unable to sleep for thinking about what was going to happen next. It was that damn good.

SHATTER ME is a YA Sci-Fi Dystopian about a seventeen year old girl who’s touch is lethal. She's been taken from her family and locked up for 264 days because the world fears her. She hasn't spoke to anyone in 264 days. She hasn't been touched for 264 days either.
The author’s style is so different from anything I’ve ever read (and I’ve read A TON). I went to Good Reads to check out what others said. Having already read the book, I was surprised by some of the comments. I suggest you take a peek, just to see for yourself. I won’t bore you by droning on and on about what someone else said. Suffice it to say some didn’t like Mafi's style or her heroine, Juliette.

For those who gave SHATTER ME low ratings, I respectfully disagree. I give this book a resounding 4 ½ stars. Why not 5? Because I have yet to find the PERFECT book (yes, I like using CAPS). I want everyone I know to read this book so we can chat about it. I love book gossip.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE the heroine, Juliette. She’s sad, confused about who she is, and unsure if she’s worthy of love. She’s human. What I love about her most is she doesn’t have it all together, she’s not the most confident, and she’s got a temper when pushed. SHATTER ME is written first person. Juliette’s thoughts are erratic. She keeps a journal, but the book isn’t the journal, although you do get glimpses of it. The book is riddled with strike throughs where Juliette decides one thing is better said than another. The strike throughs give you a peek into this character’s broken soul.

Getting sucked in and transported into Juliette’s mind and emotions, her life, was a fabulous escape. Isn’t that the point of reading a book? To escape our own world and be someone else for a while, live another's life, experience another’s world. SHATTER ME did that for me.

I was lucky enough to win a “Giant-Ass Box of Books” from Laura Bradford @bradfordlit on Twitter. Included among the many awesome books was an uncorrected proof of the second in the SHATTER ME series, UNRAVEL ME (to be released 3/13). Not realizing it was the second in a series,I read it first. When I looked up Mafi to see what else she’d written, I found I’d missed SHATTER ME. I HAD HAD HAD to run out and buy it. Ended up going to two Barnes & Nobles and got the last copy in stock.

A bridge book between books 1 and 2 of the SHATTER ME series, DESTROY ME (ebook only) is being released in October 2012. It’s written from the POV of the antagonist, Warner, who’s HOT, somewhat pitiful, somewhat insane, and, of course, evil. I’m really bummed I have to wait almost a whole month to get it. *hangs head * *sighs*

As a side note, the hunks are extra yummy and Mafi writes some really HOT HOT scenes *gets funny little feeling in pit of stomach*, and yet manages to keep it at the YA level.

I truly hope you’ll read SHATTER ME. Then you and I can chat about it.

A quote from SHATTER ME:

His hand is on my back.

His touch is scorching my skin through the layers of fabric and I inhale so fast my lungs collapse. I’m caught in colliding currents of confusion, so desperate so desperate so desperate to be close so desperate to be far away. I don’t know how to move away from him. I don’t want to move away from him.

I don’t want him to be afraid of me.
Have you read SHATTER ME or any other AMAZING book you want everyone you know to read? Comment about it. Thanks for visiting my blog.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

GUTGAA Meet and Greet

Hey all you GUTGAA folks and any unsuspecting victims people who've stumbled onto my blog. I'm so glad you stopped by.

Deana Barnhart
I'm terribly nervous about everyone visiting my fledgling blog. The pressure! *tears at hair* This is only my fifth post, but hopefully you'll enjoy getting to know a little about me. I'll be snooping around out in GUTGAA's Blogfestville checking out all of your Meet and Greets, too.

On to business.

Where do you write? Most of the time I'm sitting in my bed, laptop on my handy dandy lapdesk with my toy poodle, Penny, warming my feet. Otherwise I'm hanging out in the living room in my glider rocker, or whatever you call those things, with my feet propped up on the footstool, Penny warming my feet. That is, until my ass butt goes numb, then I park the laptop on the counter in the kitchen and work there.

Quick. Go to your writing space, sit down and look to your left. What is the first thing you see? To the left of my bed spot, is my bubby's side of the bed, with his nightstand neatly aranged. Of course, if you look to my right, my nightstand sits stacked to the brink with the girl's school papers, drinks, crumpled tissues- from when I write death scenes, Aleve (for my numb ass butt), alergy medicine bottles, and lip balm (I'm a compulsive lip balm user).

Favorite time to write? I love to get up early (5:30ish) and get started while the house is quiet and there's less of a chance someone (namely children) are going to need my urgent attention - everything is urgent with my girls. Otherwise, I enjoy writing any time I can squeeze it in. I've even been known to take the laptop to the school when my daughter has an activity and tap away at the keyboard while waiting for her turn to do her thing (track, part in play, schedule changes, whatever). This is actually a great place to work, becuase I write YA and there are all these teens around to watch and gleen tidbits from. It's fantabulous!

Drink of choice while writing? Ice cold mocha, until I get caffeine overload, then I switch to water.

When writing , do you listen to music or do you need complete silence? Music. It inspires me.

What was your inspiration for your latest manuscript and where did you find it? My eldest daughter, Alex, is an artist- no really, she's got talent (of course I'm biased, but even her art teacher wants her to go to art school, so that's got to say something, right?). She drew a picture of an angel. Her angel was fitted in full battle gear, breastplate, shield, sword, the whole nine yards. What it would be like if she weren't an angel at all, but a regular girl who one day woke up with wings? How would she react? Why would she have wings? That was the beginning of DEVASTATION. For the full story, click here.

What's your most valuable writing tip? I guess it would have to be "Begin as you mean to go on." This is useful in so many of life's situations, but for writing it means to start out with more show, less tell. Write great dialog that's realistic. Stay away from weak and passive verbs. Write with few filler words, and even fewer filters. In other words tone up flabby writing. Because editing is a bitch pain and the less of these you have the easier it will be.

To learn more about me and my novel, DEVASTATION, visit my website.

Feel free to comment on my Meet and Greet. I'd love to hear from you!

Pitch Madness and GUTGAA

The nerves in my lower gut are doing their best impression of a bucket of worms slithering around and crawling all over one another. Little sick feelings sit on my shoulders like tiny gargoyles with beady eyes and fangs, laughing at me. At the same time my chest is tight with excitement and swollen with pride, both are elbowing my heart and kicking my lungs trying to get out. These emotions war within me for prominence.


The nerves are there for two reasons. Pitch Madness and GUTGAA. *hands quiver*

Twitter is buzzing with these two online events like a swarm of Tracker Jackers, so fascinating, but with the potential for a nasty sting. Okay, that analogy may be a teensy bit over the top. This is my first year to join either event and I'm a wreck!

The excitement and pride are because I've finished editing my novel. Down from a lard ass word count of 135k to a sleek 94k. I think it may actually be easier to lose ten pounds than to lose 10k words - hell, I should be an anorexic super model at this point, I've lost 40k words... but not a single pound, dammit. Having finished my MS, I'm ready to really get serious about querying and finding an agent. In comes GUTGAA (Gearing Up To Get An Agent) and Pitch Madness. Perfect frickin' timin'!

GUTGAA is being spearheaded by Deana Barnhart, who I don't know personally, but have decided I'd like to get to know, we could be best friends some day (don't scoff, it could happen). A whole month's worth of awesomeness. You should check it out (click here) to get help polishing your pitch or possibly pitch to real live agents (as opposed to blow up dolls imaginary). There's Blogfest, Pitch Contests, and more . Prizes will be awarded weekly (that's reason enough for me to join the fun). Go here to see the entire schedule. Follow the fun on Twitter with #GUTGAA.

Pitch Madness is a little more confusing to me *hangs head in shame* but looks like its worth the time to check out. Brenda Drake's blog is where I found most of the information. I think there's only one more submission window coming up on Sept. 4th, so hurry. Pitch Madness is a contest across several blogs with elimination rounds and, again, real live agents. The worst part about this contest is having to create a pitch using only 35 words (You GOT to be shittin' kiddin' me!). But hey, it's their contest, they can do what they want, right? And I'm thankful they are. On Twitter you can check out the fun using #PitMad or #PitchMadness (I found both options, so I'm not absolutely sure which is the best to use, sorry.)

Good luck to everyone entering the fun and "may the odds be ever in your favor!" (that last part belongs to Suzanne Collins, but I LOVE that I found a legit place to use it *maniacal laughing*)

Let me know if you're jumpin' in by adding comments below. I'd love to hear from you. No. Really, it'd make my day.