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Release Day: The Warrior Prophet

April 13, 2016

Today, I’m thrilled to announce the release of The Warrior Prophet (Book 3 of The Watcher Saga). After where I left off at the end of The Angel Killer, I know a few of you have been waiting to see what happens to Mia and Michael next.

I hope you find this book is full of surprises…

TheWarriorProphet.v4 (1)

DESCRIPTION

How far would you go to save the one you love?

Mia Crawford is a prophet.

She can see angels. She also sees demons. Everywhere.

The angels are preparing for war to get her fallen angel boyfriend, Michael, back.

A war that could take years.

Haunted by visions of Michael’s soul being tortured, Mia can’t rest until she knows he’s safe.

To save him, she must make an impossible journey through Hell with the one person she prayed she’d never see again.

I know you

Buy it here:

Amazon: Kindle | Amazon Print | Kobo (ePub) | Barnes and Noble | iTunes

Add it on Goodreads

There is a Book Blitz on April 11-17th. Some wonderful participating blogs will be sporting this image. Go say Hi and spread the love! You’ll get a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card too!

thewarriorprophetblitzbanner

For those of you who haven’t read The Watcher (Book 1 in The Watcher Saga) yet, it’s available on Kobo, iTunes, and Amazon Kindle for 99 cents (US) all week. 

99cents copy

And before your read The Warrior Prophet, be sure to read The Angel Killer.

 

Join the Spring YA Scavenger Hunt with Special Content from @melaniehoo #YASH #TeamSilver

March 29, 2016

This hunt is now over. Congratulations to the winners. 

Hello and Welcome to my leg of the the Spring YA Scavenger Hunt.

YA_ScavengerHunt_WebBanner

I am Lisa Voisin, your hostess for this leg of the hunt.

Lisa

This is me
(once I’ve had my hair straightened)

I’m a city girl who loves nature and lives beside a temperate rain forest at the base of a mountain.

I love coffee, but I have over two dozen different kinds of tea in my cupboard. (It’s a compulsion).

On this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each participating YA author, you also get a secret number. Add up the numbers, and enter it for a chance to win a major prize–one lucky winner will receive at least one signed book from each author on my team in the hunt! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online until noon PST on Sunday, April 3rd!

You can start right here or you can also go to the YA Scavenger Hunt homepage to find out all about the hunt. There are NINE contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or ALL of them! I am a part of the SILVER TEAM but there is also a  whole bunch more teams and if you do those hunts too you’ll have a chance to win a plethora of signed books!

Team Silver

If you’d like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, see the full list of prizes up for grabs, or if you get lost along the way, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt homepage.

Looking for my exclusive bonus content? You’ll have to keep searching. Somewhere on this blog hop, I’ve hidden a dream cast for my upcoming book, The Warrior Prophet, but I may just give away a few cool things about the much anticipated conclusion to the Watcher Saga as well. Before you go on though, check out the amazing author I’m hosting. But, first, a few rules.

YASH World

Directions: Below, you’ll notice that I’ve listed my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the SILVER team, and then add them up (don’t worry, you can use a calculator!). Hint: the secret number is highlighted in SILVER.

Entry Form: Once you’ve added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form to officially qualify for the prizes. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.

Rules: Open internationally. Anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by April 3rd, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.

If you’re stuck, go here.

Now that all the technical stuff is out of the way, I’ll introduce the author I am hosting on this hunt.

I am super excited to be hosting… Melanie Hooyenga

Melanie is the author of the YA trilogy, the Flicker Effect, about a teen who uses sunlight to travel back to yesterday. The first book, FLICKER, won first place for Middle Grade/Young Adult in the Writer’s Digest 2015 Self-Published eBook awards. When not at her day job as Communications Director at a local nonprofit, you can find her wrangling her 6-year old Miniature Schnauzer Owen and playing every sport imaginable with her husband Jeremy.

Here’s where you can find Melanie online (Social Media Links)
melaniehooyenga(at)gmail(dot)com
http://www.melaniehoo.com
https://www.facebook.com/MelanieHooyenga
https://twitter.com/MelanieHoo
https://instagram.com/melaniehoo/

Melanie is showcasing her book, FLICKER

Biz is a perfectly normal teenager except for one minor detail: she uses sunlight to jump back to yesterday. She takes advantage of flickering by retaking Trig tests, fixing fights with her boyfriend (or reliving the making up), and repeating pretty much anything that could be done better. Trouble is, flickering makes her head explode from the inside. Or feel like it anyway.

No one knows about her freakish ability and she’s content to keep it that way. Guys don’t stick around because she refuses to let them in, but all that changes when Cameron, her best friend, starts looking oh-so-yummy. Suddenly she’s noticing his biceps, his smile, and the cute way his eyes crinkle when he—gah! This is her friend!

But the butterflies come to a screeching halt when little girls start disappearing, then take a nosedive when the police link the kidnappings to Cameron’s sister, who vanished years earlier. As the police grasp for clues, Biz photographs a strange man lurking in the shadows and realizes that her flickering can help more than just herself.

You can buy it here:
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Melanie-Hooyenga/e/B00AHNSQCO/

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/melanie-hooyenga

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/search?query=Melanie%20Hooyenga&fcsearchfield=Author

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/MelanieHooyenga

Exclusive Content

And here is Melanie’s content. The Pinterest board that inspired Flicker:  https://www.pinterest.com/melaniehoo/the-flicker-effect/

___

Lisa here with a random fact: The number 13 (that’s THIRTEEN) was once considered the number of the goddess. It also happens to be the day I was born on, and April 13th happens to be the day The Warrior Prophet releases.

___

SPECIAL BONUS: I’ll be giving away ebook copies of YOUR CHOICE of ONE of the first two books in The Watcher Saga:  The Watcher and The Angel Killer. All you need to do is Tweet about this page (it’s easy to use the tweet button) AND leave a comment below.

You could also copy and paste one of these tweets:

Are you #TeamSilver? With over 180 #YA books given away, don’t miss the @YAScavengerHunt!  http://wp.me/pHo2r-Mv via @lvoisin #YASH

Enter the #YA Scavenger Hunt for a chance to #win tons of great books. Join #TeamSilver here: http://wp.me/pHo2r-Mv  via @lvoisin #YASH

If you’re looking for something to comment about, it can be anything. But if you’re stuck, tell me what you’re reading or what your favorite spring activity is.

Hey! Thanks for stopping by! 

I’m a bit of a Doctor Who fan….

So… Ready to move on to the next link in the hunt? Then head on over to visit author Dierdre Mapstone’s page.

Happy Hunting!

Strengthen Your Fiction Writing with a Find and Rework List

March 18, 2016

strengthen

Several years ago, when I was working on The Watcher, I enrolled in Betsy Warland’s Vancouver Manuscript Intensive Solo program, where I had not one but two wonderful mentors working with me on my first book. One of them, A.M. Dellamonica, pointed out words I used far too often and advised me to find and rework instances of them. It’s not that any one word was bad, but when overused, these words can dull or weaken your prose.

I took her advice and found using this list to be one of the most helpful ways to strengthen and polish my writing. I started with this list on my own work, but as I became aware of these “crutch” words or phrases, I saw them in other people’s writing, so I shared what I learned with my critique partners. The words have varied for me over the years and they will vary for each writer and throughout a writing career. I’ve learned to avoid some of these crutch words in my first drafts, only to use new ones over the years.

The trick to using this list is to use your writing software’s Find function (in MS Word, it’s CTRL+F)  to locate every  appearance of each word and phrases on that list, and to see how many you can rework.

This list varies with each writer, and as a writer, it also changes with each work.

For instance, here is my list from the first draft of The Watcher:

  • felt – It is usually a clue that you’re telling us how someone feels, rather than showing us.  It’s also a way to distance the reader from the experience.
  • saw / look – Another distancing word and a type of filtering. Saw (or looked) can usually be replaced by showing exactly what the character saw. “I looked across the field and saw a black horse galloping toward me” can be replaced with “A black horse galloped across the field, heading straight for me.” See this article on filter words and how they can weaken your fiction.
  • eye words: glare, stare, a look (as in “she gave him a look”), glance, gaze, looked, twinkled, eyes, scan – because we get so much information from sight, and we communicate often with visual cues, writers can cling to this type of communication. Any of these can distance the reader. Using eyes too often can be distracting. Search and look for new ways to say the same thing. (See A.M. Dellamonica’s great post on eye bookisms.)
  • actually, really, just, still – These adverbs leech the life out of a sentence. Search for them and find a way to pull them out.
  • grin, shrug, laugh, frown, smile – These actions are a type of “mugging”. They are actions we can’t do without entirely, but they need to be used sparingly. It’s easy to fill up your scenes with them, but they’re no substitute for real action and more specific speeches.
  • lips / jaw – Like eyes, lips can curve, jaws can clenched for mugging purposes and can be overused. Scan and check them all.
  • nod and shook/shake my/his/her head – While also a type of mugging, these are a little different-you can get away with them more, because they’re essentially non-verbal yes and no. It’s a good idea to check each one anyway.
  • started / began – Often we’ll say “she started to <Verb>.” Again, this drains the life from your prose. If you can describe a specific action, you give us the sense of a task begun with a lot more specificity. In The Watcher, I changed “Michael crouched in front of the fireplace and started to build a fire” to “Michael came in with an armful of logs and placed them in front of our old brick fireplace. Crouching on the floor beside them, he grabbed a piece of newspaper and crumpled it in his smooth, strong hands.”
  • seem and somehow –  It’s hard to do without seem and somehow, I know, but they generally mean you haven’t taken the time to fully imagine the scene. Take the time to flesh these things out.

To this list I’d also add:

  • know/knew, think/thought, remember – These thought words distance the reader by telling rather than showing. See this article on how to strengthen your writing by eliminating thought verbs.
  • like – This little word gets used far too often. It shows you how often you are using (or overusing) similes (vs metaphors). It can also be overused by authors trying to “talk to” teens in YA fiction. One of my friends recently did a search on her manuscript and found over 400 instances of “like” in the first draft a 65,000 word manuscript. It’s good to pare those back and revise.
  • exclamation marks – Recently, I did a search for this little piece of punctuation in a 80,000 word  YA manuscript and discovered I’d used it over 100 times. Some people go to the extreme and say you should use it only once per book. I don’t think we need to be that sparse. But I did cut my instances back to less than 25.
  • that – Here’s another word we cannot do without. However, we don’t always need them. For example, the following sentence works just as well without “that”: He fell so far into despair that it took him years to recover.
  • is/was (forms of to be) – These are great to look out for to avoid using passive voice. Sometimes, passive voice is useful, but in most cases active voice can make your writing stronger. This article has some good advice and tips to avoid using the passive voice.

So here you have it, my basic find and rework list that shows you some of the things I’ve overused when drafting a novel. I’m always keeping a watchful eye out for these, and the list keeps growing. I hope you find these helpful.

ff_sm

What about you? Do you have any words or phrases you overuse and have learned to look out for? Tell me in the comments.

Getting Down to it – What’s Your Muse?

March 9, 2016

vntage_findingmuse

About a year ago, several YA authors got together in a #yalitchat twitterchat to discuss our “Muse Inspiring Must Haves.” Those things that help authors write.

My personal views about inspiration are more on the mystical side. I’m fond of the idea of an elusive muse (or genius, as Elizabeth Gilbert calls it) and I chase it in my meditations, feeling lucky when it speaks to me at all. Others prefer a more secular approach, finding things in this world that inspire them.

Here are some of the thing writers use to inspire themselves and find their muse (plus a few of my own).

Music

For some, this is the greatest muse of all. Some writers use it to create a mood and get into a feeling necessary for a character or scene. Others cannot listen to anything with lyrics while they write, or they get distracted.

I’ve been known to keep a song on repeat while I’m writing a particular scene to borrow its energy. Some of the songs I’ve used are available on my Playlists page.

Writing with Pen and Paper

A surprising number of authors use this technique to break through a stuck phase. Some do writing exercises to “warm up”. Some write to break through a block. Others write entire scenes by hand, to avoid the perfectionism typing can bring up, or because it doesn’t have the same level of distractions as the internet can have.

How about you? Do you write with pen and paper first or on the computer? If you do use pen and paper, where do you use it?

Location

Some authors write in cafes (like me) or on their days off. Some write in the early hours in their office. Others write on the couch, when the kids are asleep, or during their lunch hour at the office (on paper or on the computer).

Does location help you get into the mood to write?

Distractions

Of course, the internet is the biggest distraction of all. Some avoid it altogether and write by hand. Others, like me, use it as a thesaurus or for “quick research” (which in my case just means “brain break”). The site Write or Die was recommended to me as a way to push through those distractions, though I’ve been told it’s a little stressful.

What do you use?

Heuristics

These past few months, I’ve been exploring heuristics to help keep my creative juices flowing. Plotters are really good at these. Things like outlines, character questionnaires or exercises (like writing a diary entry for a character), world building techniques (like map making), or even mind mapping. All of these things can help you move your story forward, or get to know more about what you’re writing. For pantsers like me, it can give your work more breadth and depth. For plotters, it helps to flesh out a scene.

Here’s an example of a short fiction heuristic, in case you’re interested.

 

Overall, it seems no two authors are alike. The one thing we all seem to have in common is the desire to write. Somehow that desire translated to the ability to fit writing into our busy schedules and lives.

If you are a fan of the more mystical approach, I also offer a Meditation to Meet Your Muse on this site.

If you do have rituals, behaviours and writing must-haves in order to get pen to paper, what are they? What inspires you to write?

Cover Reveal for The Warrior Prophet, Book 3 of The Watcher Saga Coming April 13

March 4, 2016

Well, today’s the day! Finally, I get to share this cover with you.

For the past few book covers, Inkspell Publishing has let me be a part of the design process, by allowing me to give my vision for what I’d like to see. Thanks to the brilliant Najla Qamber, it came together so easily. I think it’s my favorite cover yet. What do you think?

TheWarriorProphet.v4 (1)

DESCRIPTION

How far would you go to save the one you love?

Mia Crawford is a prophet.

She can see angels. She also sees demons. Everywhere.

The angels are preparing for war to get her fallen angel boyfriend, Michael, back.

A war that could take years.

Haunted by visions of Michael’s soul being tortured, Mia can’t rest until she knows he’s safe.

To save him, she must make an impossible journey through Hell with the one person she prayed she’d never see again.

Available April 13, 2016

EXCERPT

While the angels battled outside, a ghoulish female demon pounded a crack in the protective structure around Michael’s hospital room with her fist. Her long, stringy black hair whipped over her face with each blow. She struck and struck until she hit the perfect angle. The structure cracked.

Her eyes glowed red and her skin was the color of black polished granite, wet with black slime. With a tearing sound, like ripping silk, the crevice grew. Her form as ragged and filmy as liquid smoke, she slipped into the crevice and poured herself through. I struggled to make a sigil of my own and managed to make the first cone. By the second, she was in my face. Her cold, dead stare mesmerized me and her shrieking pierced my eardrums. But when she reached a bony arm for Michael, I reconnected to the network and ignited the room, throwing her beyond my reach.

She picked herself up and circled the outer edges of my halo, inching closer to test it. I dropped Michael’s chart on the bedside table and flared my energy out further. My halo wasn’t as big or bright as when Michael and I had been connected, but I could hold her off. I had to.

Pre-Order it now:

Amazon: Kindle | Amazon Print | Kobo (ePub) | Barnes and Noble

Add it on Goodreads

The Warrior Prophet is the third book in The Watcher Saga, to celebrate, I’m giving away ebook copies of the first two award winning  books in the series: The Watcher and The Angel Killer  PLUS this wonderful key chain.

Giveaway

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