When Books Make You Angry

Who has read a book that drives you batty?  The kind of book where you want to reach out and strangle the main character?  I think we all have.  It’s pretty much human nature to not love everyone and everything.  The difference of that kind of book compared to a book that can actually make me angry, is that I will continue to read book number one and question the later.

Seriously.  There is a difference between being able to relate to a character or at least care.  That’s the difference, you care enough to want to throttle a character or you flat out hate a character and the author for what they’ve done.  Caring doesn’t mean you can always relate, but you care and want to strangle said character for going against your idea of better judgement.  The second example is that you have such an unlikable character it makes you want to throw the book into the kiddie pool and scream that you want your money back.20140527-155254-57174806.jpg

So that’s where i am. I’m reading a book that I might actually hate.  I honestly think the main character is stupid – mostly because it feels like the author hasn’t shown me enough to why the character is doing what she is doing.  Being that the book in on my kindle I won’t be throwing it into the pool.  I am however trying to decide if I continue.  Maybe the story is good enough to skim?  I guess I will take a break and make some bags of water for the kids.  They stay cool to the touch, which is super nice for summer and maybe my temper at this book.  Grrrrr.

 

 

Advertisements

Sunday Snippets – Critique Blog Hop #5 (OIAM4)

Sunday_Snippets

To join the blog hop click here for the rules and how to ‘hop’ in.
Here’s to trying something new! I am participating in a critique blog hop. Every Sunday I will be adding 250 words of whatever work in progress I feel like I need help with at the time – don’t expect it to always be perfectly edited when it gets posted 🙂

(If you would like to leave a critique use Jennifer’s method:

  1. Use the Oreo Cookie method. Good-Bad-Good. You can say something nice about anything. There is no reason to be blatantly obnoxious.)

line

* I have not done any edits.

Reminder this is a contemporary romance novella – calling it One in a Million. This scene is from my hero’s POV. Nick, the hero is back at his sister’s, where he is staying for the moment. He was turned away from Angela in the previous chapter, because she didn’t want to risk her friendship with Rebecca. Does the dialogue work? The point to this scene is showing how Nick gets the job of picking Angela up on her date even though she kicked him to the curb.

Nick stomped up at down the hallway in front of his sister’s room. It was a reenactment of high school. He was mad as hell and didn’t have a clue how to get the words out. So instead he stomped.

“Nick what is your problem? You’re going to stomp a hole through my floor and then I am going to be mad.”

“Rebecca.  You’ve gone too far this time.” He paused and looked at her. She was standing in the doorframe with her hands on her hips. It was the familiar scolding stance. He was ready to start screaming at her. As the words formed on his lips he noticed that she was slouching and looked pale.

“Becs are you okay?  You look like crap.”

Rebecca rolled her eyes and promptly dropped her arms.  She slouched into the door frame. “Actually no.  I feel nauseous. But thanks for telling me I look like crap. You are so sensitive.”

“Well you do.  What am I supposed to do.  Sugarcoat it just because you’re my sister?”

Rebecca shook her head at him.  “No. That would be weird if you sugarcoated anything. Anyway.” He watched her raise her hand to her stomach. “What did I do this time?”

Nick eyed her. “Are you going to die on me?  I have my EMT license if you do.”

Another warranted eye roll. “Gee thanks. No. I am not going to die, but I might throw up on you if you don’t let me sit down soon.  So what is your problem this time? I should stop letting you stay with me if you’re going to be so moody all the time.”

line

In this hop, participants post 250 words of their work in progress to be critiqued. Then everyone hops around to critique others. Don’t have a post of your own? We’d love a critique anyway! And next time you can sign up yourself (see below)

Click on over to these great writers to check out and critique what they’ve posted!

http://mermaidssinging.wordpress.com/

http://caitlinsternwrites.wordpress.com/

http://ileandrayoung.com

http://jennykellerford.wordpress.com

http://jennifermeaton.com/

http://richardleonard.wordpress.com

http://jordannaeast.com

http://itsjennythewren.wordpress.com/

http://wehrismypen.wordpress.com

http://jlroeder.wordpress.com

http://letscutthecrap.wordpress.com/

http://ashortaday.wordpress.com

http://mandyevebarnett.com/

http://www.michellezieglerauthor.com

– For last weeks entry click here

– Meet Angela here

*You may not copy or reproduce this post or any of it’s contents without permission from the author. This work is the original work of Michelle Ziegler.

Sunday Snippets -Critique Blog Hop Post #4 (OIAM3)

Sunday_Snippets

To join the blog hop click here for the rules and how to ‘hop’ in.
Here’s to trying something new! I am participating in a critique blog hop. Every Sunday I will be adding 250 words of whatever work in progress I feel like I need help with at the time – don’t expect it to always be perfectly edited when it gets posted 🙂

(If you would like to leave a critique use Jennifer’s method:

  1. Use the Oreo Cookie method. Good-Bad-Good. You can say something nice about anything. There is no reason to be blatantly obnoxious.)

line

* I have not done any edits.

Reminder this is a contemporary romance novella – calling it One in a Million. Based on feedback that thre was no ‘action’ I changed things a little.  Before I get too far I am trying to figure out if the issue was the wording or the whole excerpt.  This is the first POV from my hero and starts chapter 3.  It was added in response to an editor asking me to add more information before my hero goes to walk the heroine’s dog.  I had to add something in order to make the scene move the plot forward – I attempted to do that with why he’s stood by for years and just now getting around to making his move on the heroine.  

Restraining his hands from grabbing and bringing her back took a heck of a lot of effort. He wanted to come out and say it. He’d been attracted to her for years. He’d waited for the timing to be right. It never seemed to happen.

The sway of her hips brought back memories.  Watching her walk away had always entertained him, until she’d turned him down to his high school prom. His ego had taken quite the blow when she’d given him a lame excuse that he should be taking someone who wasn’t just a friend. He could remember it as if it were yesterday. He’d always thought the real reason  had something to do with Rebecca, but never had any proof.  His smile faded as he recalled the painful rejection.

Nick hadn’t been so excited about a date ever.  He’d played it cool because he was a guy, but inside his heart was beating as if he’d just run suicides up and down the football field. As he bounded up Angela’s front steps he couldn’t contain all his excitement. His cheeks ached from grinning- until Angela answered the door.

Nick still remembered her water filled eyes and how he desperately wanted to remove the pain. It was a stupid notion since the next minute her words ripped through him too. He couldn’t handle that kid of rejection again and he’d left any further advanced to her.

Nick scratched his chin.  It had been far too many years and he was tired of waiting.

 

 

line

In this hop, participants post 250 words of their work in progress to be critiqued. Then everyone hops around to critique others. Don’t have a post of your own? We’d love a critique anyway! And next time you can sign up yourself (see below)

Click on over to these great writers to check out and critique what they’ve posted!

http://mermaidssinging.wordpress.com/

http://caitlinsternwrites.wordpress.com/

http://ileandrayoung.com

http://jennykellerford.wordpress.com

http://jennifermeaton.com/

http://richardleonard.wordpress.com

http://jordannaeast.com

http://itsjennythewren.wordpress.com/

http://wehrismypen.wordpress.com

http://jlroeder.wordpress.com

http://letscutthecrap.wordpress.com/

http://ashortaday.wordpress.com

http://mandyevebarnett.com/

http://www.michellezieglerauthor.com

*You may not copy or reproduce this post or any of it’s contents without permission from the author. This work is the original work of Michelle Ziegler.

Sunday Snippets -Critique Blog Hop #3

Sunday_Snippets

To join the blog hop click here for the rules and how to ‘hop’ in.
Here’s to trying something new! I am participating in a critique blog hop. Every Sunday I will be adding 250 words of whatever work in progress I feel like I need help with at the time – don’t expect it to always be perfectly edited when it gets posted 🙂

(If you would like to leave a critique use Jennifer’s method:

  1. Use the Oreo Cookie method. Good-Bad-Good. You can say something nice about anything. There is no reason to be blatantly obnoxious.)

line

* I have not done any edits.  With two kids I am not doing great on adjustment.

Reminder this is a contemporary romance novella – calling it One in a Million. I need some help with integrateing in the male characters thoughts. Here are his first 250 words in the story. Does it sound male?  Oh and is my ‘show’ getting better?

Nick wanted to grab Angela and shake her. He wanted to come out and say it. He’d been attracted to her for years. He’d waited for the timing to be right. It never actually seemed to come though.

In high school he had been positive she liked him until she’d turned him down to his Prom. His ego had taken quite the blow when she’d given him some lame excuse. He’d always thought it had something to do with Rebecca, but never had any proof. After that he’d left the ball in her court. He couldn’t handle another rejection like that.

Angela’s hips swayed as she walked away. A laugh caught in his throat as he watched her regain her composure from his words; her footsteps slowly become more sure as she walked away. Her reaction gave him a little more confidence that there was something between them. The care packages to him on deployment and the flirtatious e-mails and calls hadn’t hurt either.

Pickles the pug dog, he still couldn’t figure out the name, rubbed up against his shin and sneezed. “Thanks dog.” Pickles jumped on his hind legs and started dancing around.

“Angela? Does Pickles need to go out?”

Her head appeared from the kitchen doorway. “Oh. Yes. That’s his potty dance.”

Nick shook his head. “Potty dance?” He sighed. “Where is his leash? If you’re going to let me stay, I might as well take your dog out.” Nick turned around grabbing his boots. “Alright you sad excuse for a canine. Let’s go out.”

line

In this hop, participants post 250 words of their work in progress to be critiqued. Then everyone hops around to critique others. Don’t have a post of your own? We’d love a critique anyway! And next time you can sign up yourself (see below)

Click on over to these great writers to check out and critique what they’ve posted!

http://mermaidssinging.wordpress.com/

http://caitlinsternwrites.wordpress.com/

http://ileandrayoung.com

http://jennykellerford.wordpress.com

http://jennifermeaton.com/

http://richardleonard.wordpress.com

http://jordannaeast.com

http://itsjennythewren.wordpress.com/

http://wehrismypen.wordpress.com

http://jlroeder.wordpress.com

http://letscutthecrap.wordpress.com/

http://ashortaday.wordpress.com

http://mandyevebarnett.com/

http://www.michellezieglerauthor.com

*You may not copy or reproduce this post or any of it’s contents without permission from the author. This work is the original work of Michelle Ziegler.

Sunday Snippets -Critique Blog Hop #2

Sunday_Snippets

To join the blog hop click here for the rules and how to ‘hop’ in.
Here’s to trying something new! I am participating in a critique blog hop. Every Sunday I will be adding 250 words of whatever work in progress I feel like I need help with at the time – don’t expect it to always be perfectly edited when it gets posted 🙂

(If you would like to leave a critique use Jennifer’s method:

  1. Use the Oreo Cookie method. Good-Bad-Good. You can say something nice about anything. There is no reason to be blatantly obnoxious.)

line

So here it goes. This is a contemporary romance novella. I need some help with integrateing in the male characters thoughts, so I am starting you off with the first 250 words to help me further in the story. For now call it One In a Million.

Angela turned her face away from the wind. The snow, which had been falling gently before her current disaster of a date, had turned into a blizzard when she had finally walked out. Now she was left standing outside the restaurant, praying that she didn’t freeze before her best friend, Rebecca, got there. Her skinny jeans and trendy flats left her ankles exposed, and Angela did her best flamingo imitation as she alternated lifting one frozen foot, then the other from the snow, trying to stave off frostbite. Shivering, she switched from frozen foot to frozen foot; playing executioner to each of her frost-bitten toes.

The night had been a learning experience to say the least. Nothing new, but her taste in men was as bad as ever. First Brian had attempted to find out what kind of underwear she was wearing. Then he had flat-out refused to drive her home in the snow. It really was too bad about the flaming hot fajitas. They had looked better on Brian’s plate than in his lap.

Attending the company’s New Year party with her boss’ nephew no longer looked like the worst idea in the world. Sure, the guy reeked of cigarettes and dressed like a refugee from the 1980s, but going with him would earn her points with her boss. Besides, she wasn’t exactly doing a great job finding someone herself. The set up’s needed to stop though, no matter how good intentioned her coworkers were.

line

In this hop, participants post 250 words of their work in progress to be critiqued. Then everyone hops around to critique others. Don’t have a post of your own? We’d love a critique anyway! And next time you can sign up yourself (see below)

Click on over to these great writers to check out and critique what they’ve posted!

http://mermaidssinging.wordpress.com/

http://caitlinsternwrites.wordpress.com/

http://ileandrayoung.com

http://jennykellerford.wordpress.com

http://jennifermeaton.com/

http://richardleonard.wordpress.com

http://jordannaeast.com

http://itsjennythewren.wordpress.com/

http://wehrismypen.wordpress.com

http://jlroeder.wordpress.com

http://letscutthecrap.wordpress.com/

http://ashortaday.wordpress.com

http://mandyevebarnett.com/

http://www.michellezieglerauthor.com

*You may not copy or reproduce this post or any of it’s contents without permission from the author. This work is the original work of Michelle Ziegler.

Sunday Snippets -Critique Blog Hop #1

Sunday_Snippets

Here’s to trying something new! I am participating in a critique blog hop.  Every Sunday I will be adding 250 words of whatever work in progress I feel like I need help with at the time – don’t expect it to always be perfectly edited when it gets posted 🙂  This is a good time to give feedback.  I believe others are on their 8th post – click below to see other participants.

(If you would like to leave a critique use Jennifer’s method: 

  1. Use the Oreo Cookie method. Good-Bad-Good. You can say something nice about anything. There is no reason to be blatantly obnoxious.)

line

So here it goes.  This is a contemporary romance.  It has no title at the moment.  See what you think about the first 250 words!

Marci Adam’s was gripping the steering wheel too tight.   Her breathing was coming out a little quicker then appropriate for someone who just made a conscious life change.  Her forehead was pressed against the cold, hard, black plastic of the same steering wheel that she was clinging to as if her life depended on it.

“What did I just do?”  No one was going to answer her except for her dog, the dog that had eaten her last chip somewhere between the Maine border and her old life.  Heavy panting and the thwap, thwap of Stella’s tail was starting to wear on Marci’s last nerve.

“Stella, stop.  Please.  I beg you.”  She slowly turned her head to glance at the always perky black lab.  “When are you not loving life?  Seriously?  Spill your secret to life.  Right now I could really use it.”

The fact that Marci had just spent most of her savings on a bed and breakfast, that she had purchased at midnight on Craigslist, was starting to sit like a rock in her stomach.  Too bad the feeling was three days too late for her to run.  Taking a deep breath she stared at the odometer.  It might as well have read a million miles.  There was no turning around.  She hadn’t driven a hundreds of miles from Colorado to Maine just to turn around and give up.   She wasn’t admitting defeat and turning back into the arms of the fiancé she’d just left behind.

line

In this hop, participants post 250 words of their work in progress to be critiqued. Then everyone hops around to critique others. Don’t have a post of your own? We’d love a critique anyway! And next time you can sign up yourself (see below)

Click on over to these great writers to check out and critique what they’ve posted!

http://mermaidssinging.wordpress.com/

http://caitlinsternwrites.wordpress.com/

http://ileandrayoung.com

http://jennykellerford.wordpress.com

http://jennifermeaton.com/

http://richardleonard.wordpress.com

http://jordannaeast.com

http://itsjennythewren.wordpress.com/

http://wehrismypen.wordpress.com

http://jlroeder.wordpress.com

http://letscutthecrap.wordpress.com/

http://ashortaday.wordpress.com

http://mandyevebarnett.com/

http://www.michellezieglerauthor.com

 

*You may not copy or reproduce this post or any of it’s contents without permission from the author.  This work is the original work of Michelle Ziegler.

Finding My Way – The Search for a Niche

It’s really a Monday.  I just threw my bagel across my desk.  This was not intentional and now I am wiping cream cheese off of my files and papers.  Who knew eating could be so hazardous?

hmmmI had a different post in mind for today, but based on a recent blog post I read I thought that I would change directions. I recently came across a blog post – Finding Your One Thing, and it got me thinking.  How did I figure out what I wanted to write? Apparently there are millions – or hundreds, of writers trying to find their niche.  Even an agent I follow had pondered this process a few months back.  Here’s my story.

I started to write in Paranormal Romance.  I had intended to write YA, but unfortunately that wouldn’t work.  Six years ago New Adult would have fit that story.  So I guess I was a little of head of my time – but only partially.  After realizing the market was flooded with vampires no matter how “new” the story was, I simply realized that I had to change my approach, or at least until I made a name for myself.  The issue was that I was so in love with that story and those characters that at first it was hard to put everything down.  But I had to.

I had to put that first manuscript aside to learn everything I was doing wrong aside from genre.  Don’t write a 300,000 word manuscript.  Don’t write something because it is hot for the moment, you are already too late.  Don’t expect your first manuscript to be your first publication – although it does happen.  Don’t be afraid of change.  So I set out on another Paranormal Romance and this one truly was YA and still is an idea that hasn’t been done.  The issue again though, was that something was nagging me.  The idea that I still wasn’t falling far enough away from the huge influx of paranormal stories.  Someday that second manuscript might see the light of day.  For now I’ve moved on.

Later that week I cuddled up to a book that wasn’t Paranormal.  It was contemporary and the idea struck me that I struggled a lot to find this new book with a balance of humor and realistic women and  a story plot that didn’t make me uncomfortable or want to toss the book after chapter five.  So it hit me,  why couldn’t I take my paranormal stories and make them contemporary?  My voice didn’t have to change, my knowledge could be applied anywhere, and I love contemporary Romance just as much.  It didn’t hurt that I had just had the cutest story idea ever enter my head either.

I sat down and started to write.  After reaching three chapters I took my story to my critique partners.  When they all laughed out loud and not in a ‘you’re crazy way’ I knew that I had hit on what felt off about writing before.  I wasn’t making people smile and giving them an escape.  I may love to read dark or suspenseful, but I would like to be the one making someone smile instead.

Three years later I found a publisher that validated my choice.  They liked my style and my voice.  Sure I still have things to learn, that is life in general.  At least for now I found someone in the industry that saw my potential and solidified my choice to change sub-genres.  Will this lead to millions or maybe just an appearance on the New York Times Best Seller list?  Who knows.  But at least for now I am very comfortable with what I write and things only get better with each new laugh I hear.

I found something that made me feel good and could make me giggle which are two things that matter to me.  It was nice hearing that the voices in my head weren’t the only ones, but I would still write it even if I hadn’t had a few good friends at the time.

How about you?  Are you still looking or have you found it?  There are very few authors that I know who are writing what they started in.  Some have gone back, while others just keep moving forward.  I thinking reading and seeing what you enjoy should help influence what you think you might love writing.

Write a story for yourself first and then curtail it to your audience in the next draft.  Share your story of how you got to where you are today.

The Inciting Incident: Is Your Character Unlikable or What Are You Missing?

Don’t you hate criticism that leads you to a lot of head scratching, but little to no idea how to fix the issue?

I had a beta reader – yes just one, tell me my character was nearly unlikable.  I sort of wanted to cry.  That wasn’t going to get me anywhere though.  I had to stop and think.  Why did beta reader A think that. The character is cynical and she has every right to be that way.  She is throwing around  sarcastic comments like they are as common as air. She can’t see anything for what it is and men, well men just drive the nail into her emotional coffin of mad.Incite

So I asked myself: is her entire outlook unlike any other woman scorned?  No.  She is who she is and she isn’t happy.  What I had to do was make it more apparent as to why she was so sarcastic about everything around her that day.  I had to figure out why it is the reader couldn’t identify or at least see why it is that she was acting out in her emotional tornado.  That’s when it hit me.   I was missing the inciting incident!

It better be apparent to your reader sooner  rather than later what the catalyst is to your characters actions.  The middle of a story is too late to explain why Fred is up and leaving, or why Sally was running in the rain, or why Ted just robbed a liquor store.  You can have undesirable traits in characters – heck they are supposed to be someone real so they better not be perfect.  The issue is making the cause for the not so positive traits visible to the reader.

In the first 3 chapters your inciting incident better be apparent.

Have you had any experiences with this confusing the reader because you didn’t make it clear or put it in too late?

Show Me Don’t Tell Me

A lot of writers can write and tell a story.  The issue is simply that, we tell.  So what does it mean to show vs. tell?  When an editor or an agent comes back with this comment it usually puts the writer into a tail spin.  Isn’t it always easier to point a finger at a general problem rather than point out the exact issue.

To over simplify the problem I think the best summary I can give you is this: any time you say she felt, or he looked you are telling rather than showing.  If you are using 1 sentence to get into the house, you are probably telling.  What can you do?  Stop and envision.  Watch the scene as a movie in your head.  Movies are show not tell – for obvious reasons. When you describe a movie scene how do you show someone in words so they understand?

What sounds better?  Marci walked thru the door.   Or Marci turned the knob and crossed the threshold.  One implies action while the other is stating the obvious. It really all in the word choice.  Is either wrong?  No.  But showing is preferred by almost every agent, editor, and publisher out there.  The idea is to choose strong verbs that entice the reader to envision the action.

Another example:  Jamie felt like her life was over and cried. Or Jamie’s heart thudded and her chest felt tight.  Her eyes burned as she let loose a flood of tears.

Jane walked into a dark room and felt instantly scared. OR Jane was surrounded by black as she entered the room.  Her hands began to shake and her breathing grew rapid. 

 Showing will add more words.  This isn’t bad as long as each word was chosen carefully and aids in helping your reader understand what is going.  I am no expert, but I am working on my own process at the same time so I hope this helps.  Someone told me that telling can actually speed along the story – in a bad way.  So slow it down, add some details, and let the reader escape.

If you have a great example or some useful show vs. tell advice please comment below! Happy Monday and Happy writing.

STOP! You’re Helping My Writing to Death!

I have a hot and cold view of critiques.  Yes, they are helpful when you have the right people.  The issue that I think plagues us all is, who are those people?

I had someone actually ask if I meant a synonym of the word I used.  My answer was “Yes I did mean that.” If you don’t know what a word means Google it!  That sort of feedback isn’t useful.  Taking and changing a word every other sentence because you personally feel it sounds better doesn’t help.  After receiving my last round of critiques from an online group I am using only 1 of the 3.

So in my mind only 33% of critiques are useful unless you find a great group of people who have your best interests at hand.  Finding awkward sentences, missing details that make you question what is going on, adding a word or using one that might make a stronger impact, and even telling someone their character isn’t likeable.

The key is, tell the author what they did right too.  If you don’t like something, say why. Don’t re-write someone’s story purely because it wasn’t the way you would write it.

So my opinion is, if someone is going line by line and doing personal edits instead of subjective, perhaps you learn to thank them and move on.  Don’t let someone ruin your story!

For now I still hope to find others that like romance of any kind to form a new critique group.  Have you had any luck?