Wednesday, July 31, 2013


The sequel to FINN FINNEGAN
By Darby Karchut
Gideon’s Spear
(The Adventures of Finn MacCullen #2)
For Finn MacCullen, it’s time to Irish up.
With a shout, Finn held the spear aloft. “Come along, ye manky beasties,” he yelled, throwing every bit of Gideon-ness he could into his voice. “I’ve a wee point to share with ye!” Gripping the end of the shaft in both hands, he swung it around and around over his head, creating a whistling sound. “Faugh a ballagh!”
“The Spear!” Goblin voices screeched in panic. “The Spear of the Tuatha De Danaan!”
“Yeah, you got that right!” Finn yelled back.
When a power-crazed sorceress and the neighborhood pack of beast-like goblins team up and threaten both his master and his friends, thirteen-year-old Finn (not Finnegan) MacCullen does the only thing an apprentice monster hunter can do: he takes the fight to the enemy.
And woe to the foe he meets along the way.
Finn Finnegan
(Book One of The Adventures of Finn MacCullen)
“Overall, a great choice for adventure-loving readers who prefer their battle scenes with a hefty dose of ancient weaponry, ground-fighting skills, and just a touch of magic." --School Library Journal
"If Lloyd Alexander had written The Ranger's Apprentice, the result might have been something like Finn Finnegan. Fantastic!" --Mike Mullin, author of Ashfall and Ashen Winter
"Finn Finnegan brings classic adventure into a modern day setting for a great read.”
--Dee Garretson, author of Wildfire Run and Wolf Storm
Title: Gideon's Spear (The sequel to Finn Finnegan)
Author: Darby Karchut
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
ISBN:  978-1-937053-94-9
Release Date: 2/4/2014
Formats: Paper, e-book
If you'd like to request an ARC, please use the reviewer form on our website. ARCs will ship in January 2014.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Writer's Toolbox

I’m in the process of revising my WIP. It’s like pulling teeth. There is the constant ‘I suck at this’ feeling in my head. I no longer do battle with it. Being a writer means we’ve got to accept that we’re going to feel like we suck pretty much every time we begin a first draft or first revision.

Then again, acceptance doesn’t mean that we sit on our backsides and twiddle our thumbs. Being a writer also means that we are students our whole lives. Knowing this I created a writer’s tool box for myself. For a long time, it held the essentials: write every day, find a critique group, find beta readers, know your genre and so on. It held specific tips: don’t use adverbs, add rhythm to scenes and don’t start with the weather.

Over the past year, I’ve felt that these technical tools though important, are not sufficient. Yes, we need to know how to write but we also need to be happy writing, need to continue writing and need to thrive on our writing. So I’ve added other tools to my box. Tools that I think every writer needs yet something that changes from writer to writer. They are not so much technical tools of writing as much as psychological ‘soft’ tools. These soft tools mold us into the writers we become. 

1. Sleep on it: This has become my favorite tool. Whether a short afternoon nap or turning off my screen because I’m unable to find the right plot angle or plot words at night for a seven hour snooze, sleeping on it has helped me be kind to my writing, my body and allowed me to return to my manuscript the next day or next weekend with fresh perspective.

2. Know when to quit: We aren’t quitters. Quitters are those who stop at a first draft, we tell ourselves. Still, I have many first drafts languishing in my folders. I learned a lot of from them. I learned how to write. How to create plot. How to bring out voice. How to add pacing. I also learned that the manuscript was not strong enough to continue to work on. I learned from mistakes and learned the right attitude so that I could work on my next manuscript. In essence, I learned how to quit and move forward.

3. Imagination reboot. When I’m stuck I try to become my characters when I can. I play act. I talk in my characters’ voices in the kitchen making breakfast or while driving to work. Sometimes I indulge in a book or movie that has a similar or polar opposite character. Other times, I simply close my manuscript and go for some yoga in the park or a walk around the neighborhood. Anything that gets my imagination flowing again works for me.  

What works for you? What skills have you added to your tool box?


Thursday, July 25, 2013


As writers, our entire life is about numbers. It doesn’t end, whether you’re writing that first book or publishing your twentieth novel. This is how it goes:

~While we’re writing, it’s how many words we wrote that day.
~While we’re querying, it’s how many rejections or requests we got for that manuscript.
~While we’re on submission, it’s how many houses are reading it.
~While we’re editing and revising, it’s how many times we revised.

Then, we get published, and the numbers game continues.

~How many ratings did we get?
~How many reviews did we get?
~How many people added it on Goodreads?
~How many books sold?
~How are we ranking on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Book Depository, and elsewhere?

We tend to focus on these numbers and forget the bigger picture. It isn’t easy, but we need to remember why we write—to get great stories in the hands of readers. So no matter what stage in the writing game you’re at, try to sit back, relax, and write the best story you can. The numbers will always be there, but don’t let them rule you. Let the story do that :)

Thursday, July 18, 2013


As writers we all know the saying, "show don't tell." But until just recently I had never heard of the term "interiority." This is where as writers we let our readers into the minds of the main character speaking. I first learned about this term while reading Writing Irresistible KidLit by Mary Cole and thought to myself, "well yeah, of course we should be doing this in our stories."

Then I sat down with my very first manuscript the other day. My goal was to skim through and see if it was at all salvageable. As I was reading short passages I realized that there are some spots where I don't explain everything my main character is thinking or feeling. This is where I need to add some interiority in. I need to get into her mind and heart and bring those thoughts and feelings out more. I need to help my readers understand my main character better, and it helps with bonding as well. And no, I'm still not sure if that manuscript is going to eventually become something better. I still need time to think that through and brainstorm it more.

Interiority came up once again at our last critique group meeting as well. While I was critiquing a piece there was one spot where I kept wondering what is he thinking about x, y, and z? The main character's going through these motions, but I was missing out on why? And what about the other things that had been so prominent prior to this section? All of this was a result of switching from telling the story from one point of view to another. She was aware of this and knew she needed to add in more. This is much what my first couple drafts tend to look like as well. I have a tendency to leave things out with the hope of fleshing it out in a future draft. And both too much telling and the lack of interiority have a tendency to slip into these early drafts. 

So, while we need to balance our telling and showing, we also have to balance our character's actions with what they are thinking, what they are felling, and why they are taking those actions.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Don't Hold Back

Last week while pondering my current WIP I decided to gather up some of my old copies of the SCBWI bulletins. I revisited articles I have dog-eared throughout them hoping to find new inspiration. In the Jan/Feb 2012 an article caught my attention. In "Don't Hold Back" Joelle Anthony discusses her realization that her characters were holding back. They were thinking of doing something, but not doing anything for some reason or another.

I'm guilty of doing this as well. Too often I find myself rewriting scenes during the editing process to allow my characters to react realistically, and not as an adult would. Basically, I'm holding them back.
I'm glad I ran across this article again. I needed this reminder going into a major rewrite on my current WIP.

Anthony suggests allowing your characters to react the way they want to. Even if you open a new document to do so and never end up using it. You may learn something new from your characters or have a great new scene. She suggests going through your manuscripts looking for key phrases such as, "I wanted to, I tried, I wished, I lost my nerve, ..."

When I reread my manuscript this month I will be highlighting every instance where I use one of those phrases. Hopefully this will help me create a little new direction with my WIP and make it better.

After all, I was a very emotional teen. So why can't my teen characters be emotional as well? There really ins't a good reason not to let them let go now and then. Of course, they shouldn't let go all the time, but occasionally they should. Especially if it will help round out their character and further the story.

Are you holding back your characters?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

COVER REVEAL: ORIGIN by Jennifer Armentrout



# 1 NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY Bestselling author Jennifer Armentrout lives in Martinsburg, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing, she spends her time reading, working out, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, and hanging out with her husband and her Jack Russell, Loki.

Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Spencer Hill Press, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen.

She also writes adult and New Adult romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.

ORIGIN official Blurb:

Daemon will do anything to get Katy back.
After the successful but disastrous raid on Mount Weather, he’s facing the impossible. Katy is gone. Taken. Everything becomes about finding her. Taking out anyone who stands in his way? Done. Burning down the whole world to save her? Gladly. Exposing his alien race to the world? With pleasure.

All Katy can do is survive.

Surrounded by enemies, the only way she can come out of this is to adapt. After all, there are sides of Daedalus that don’t seem entirely crazy, but the group’s goals are frightening and the truths they speak even more disturbing. Who are the real bad guys? Daedalus? Mankind? Or the Luxen?

Together, they can face anything.  But the most dangerous foe has been there all along, and when the truths are exposed and the lies come crumbling down, which side will Daemon and Katy be standing on? And will they even be together?


Additional links to Jennifer’s pages:

Monday, July 1, 2013

5 things about writing that I wish I knew five years ago

1. It’s a first draft. It’s okay if it sucks. Get over it. Write a second draft. It will suck to. Get over it. Write a third draft… you get the picture. One day you will stop hating your draft.  That’s when you know you’re ready for someone else to see your work.

2. Get a critique group as quickly as you can. When you’re in the second/third draft stage, you’ll need a second pair of eyes to edit, re-write or simply to soothe. You’ll need a group of people that tells you that really, the writing is good and no, you aren’t yet ready to query. You need a critique group that understands your down days, your writing slumps and the sleepless night you had chasing the monsters. They will be there at your most trying times. They’ll keep you honest. They’ll motivate you. They’ll keep you grounded. They’ll let you soar.

3. 10,000 hours of craft building. There’s no substitute for writing. You write and write and write. Writing is the only way you get better at it. There are no short cuts. Malcolm Gladwell’s theory on the 10,000 hours of building a skill, whether you agree with it or not, is motivating enough to get our fingers on the keyboard. It makes me feel better that it would take me 10k hours or about 6 years (at 8 hours a day without any vacations) to become a somewhat decent writer.

4. You are a student. For life. Get used to it. Whether you’ve written a smashingly good draft and are in a query process or still struggling through your first draft, be in student mode. Attend workshops. Take courses. Read Writer’s Digest. Learn how to write that opening sentence. Learn how to build that believable character. Learn how to deal with a sagging middle and write a page turning climax. None of these come to us at first try. It takes practice. The easiest way of getting the practice is to get to a workshop. Jump at every opportunity (funds permitting) to learn.

5. Be kind to yourself. Life happens. Summer vacations happen. Work happens. It’s okay. Have faith. You’ll return to your writing. I wish, more than anything else, that I hadn’t wasted so many hours berating myself over the time I’d wasted seeing the Swiss countryside. That time would have been so much more productive writing!