Hawkeye Dishes on "They Did It, Not Me."


Hullo everyone. Legolas here with a thoughtful, rambled, somewhat discussion post.

So a few weeks ago, I went to a book signing for one of my favorite authors ever. Ever. And when I got up there to meet him, I actually had the nerve to ask, why he killed my feels at the end of one of his trilogies. His answer was so cliched and yet true. "I'm sorry, but they did it not me. It wasn't my ending to choose."

That's got me thinking lately about the writing phenomenon of  "They Did It, Not Me." It's interesting when you think about it, how often as writers we refer to our characters as real people. This used to confuse me back when I was a young twelve year-old writer, but lately I've really been able to see how true this is.

The more you get invested in your story, the more you write and develop it in your brain, and the more real your characters become to you. Right? Sometimes I've even had characters be the first thing that shows up. It's almost like we've got this psychic connection.

Such as my Pinterest board SKYLAR SAYS. When I met Skylar through a pin all I really know was two things. A) That she was blonde and she was part of a contemporary story, and B) That she loved converse shoes. But that alone was enough to give me a peek into her story. And as I pinned things I felt represented her, I've learned so much more about her story. She's one of the most vivid characters I've ever had, and I don't even know her full story yet.

Has this ever happened to you? When you've just been so emotionally and physically connected that you know things about them that you didn't know? That things show up and you just feel that it belongs with that protaganist? Hands down it's a wonderful feeling. That's writing at it's core. When it's not just telling your story, but feeling and knowing your story. It's more than words and it needs to be.

Which brings me to thinking about the "They Did It"  part. Once we know THEM and can begin to discover who they are without having to make things up, that's where it happens. For instance, I wrote a first draft and I produced a character that I loved. She was my baby and she character that brought out so much in my protaganist. And yet...she had to go. She needed to die. And I didn't give it a second thought. My friends protested loudly, but nope. I knew that was her story, and I was okay with that. It got the MC where I wanted her, and it just needed to happen. Yeah, I'm sad, especially since she's a marksmen herself, but it's her story, and it would be wrong otherwise. 

Okay, so what if you don't have that THEY part? What if you've never felt this inner connection? You're probably gonna need to find it, is my guess. So how do you go about this character discovery? Well there are many ways. I've heard lots of tips for these kinds of things and I'm just gonna mention a few.

Visualize It - This is my way! If you're a visual learner, chances are that's how you connect! Surf Tumblr or Pinterest for things you already know about your story. Create places to bunch them together and keep a stock. [hence why Pinterest is so great for writers] However you learn, is probably gonna be the best way to discover you character.

Think It - Go somewhere public and sit. Watch the people around you. Guess they're stories. Make some up! Imagine your character in their place. Would they react more like the shifty-eyed teenage boy in the corner over there? Or the shy girl? Who knows!

My dad and I used to drive by the same person walking to the same place at the same time each day. After a few weeks, we had his whole life story playing out that we could have written a book about him. Maybe we will!

Write It - So maybe you're not a visual learner. Maybe you need to pick a random and totally bizarre scenario and write a few different reactions to it. I did this once, and it was interesting to see what I came up with. Need a prompt?

  • Your protagonist finds her/himself trapped during an Indiana Jones like mission. He or She is lowered by a rope to the ground and lands in a big pile of sticky goo. Write three scenarios in which your MC is afraid, annoyed, and curious.
  • A giant squid just attacked your protag's cruise ship! Write three scenarios in which your character is terrified, wimpy and active(takes action).
  • It's a sad day for your MC when the ex-love of his/her life starts to make moves on his/her archenemy to make him/her jealous. Write three scenarios in which your MC is feeling revengeful, bored and angry.

With that sad, I want to hear what you have to think! Tell me about your connections and how you find them? Do you think it's important? Let me know. And lastly, my challenge to you: Pick a character you don't feel connected too and DISCOVER THEM. Get to know they're personality. If you can't, they won't contribute to the story and they'll just be totally

TFA's in the Spotlight: The Distance Between Us by Kasie West

Hullo Everyone! Today I've got the fantastic opportunity to interview the brilliant Kasie West! She's the author of Pivot Point [released this past February] and the upcoming summer read, The Distance Between Us!
Kasie is that YA-writing author obsessed with Junior Mints. Sometimes she goes crazy and does both at the same time. Her debut novel, PIVOT POINT (HarperTeen) came out February 12, 2013, and will be followed by its sequel in 2014. Her upcoming contemporary, The Distance Between Us, comes out July 2, 2013 with HarperTeen. Her agent is the talented and funny Michelle Wolfson.
Find her Awesome: Website -- Twitter -- Facebook

HAWKEYE: Let's get this show on the road. Suppose I've never heard of The Distance Between Us. Now pitch me your book, in 13 words[or less]

KASIEPride and Prejudice meets Pretty in Pink in this romantic comedy.

HAWKEYE: According to your bio, you love Jr. Mints. Have those little delicacies found their way into any of your books?

KASIE: Ha. I do love Jr. Mints. So much so that I don't share them with any of my kids, including my character kids. :) No, just kidding. I do share them with my kids. But, I think I always fear giving my characters traits that I possess very strongly (like my love of jr. mints) because I don't want anyone to then assume that my MC is super similar to me. If that makes sense.

HAWKEYE: Having your debut novel under your belt, what are you most worried/excited for with the release of TDBU?

KASIE: What don't I worry about? I guess the main one is expectations. I was worried about that the first time around, too, but even more so now. I'm afraid of disappointing people. I adore The Distance Between Us, but I fear it will be compared to Pivot Point and people will like it more and/or less.

HAWKEYE: TDBU has a lovely eye-catching cover. Your thoughts?

KASIEI love the cover so much. I love the colors and the setting. When I saw this cover, I melted. It's perfect.

HAWKEYE: Which of your characters would be the most likely one found among YAvenger ranks? Why?

KASIE: In this book? Probably Skye. I mean, with a name like Skye, how can you *not* be a super hero? She's quirky and fun and sure of herself and I imagine she's probably hiding some sort of super secret identity. 

HAWKEYE: The world is ending, sour gummy worms or chocolate malt balls?

KASIE: Chocolate. Always chocolate.

HAWKEYE: *gasp* Caymen's heart has led her to fall in love with a guy who is NOT in her book. Which fictional boy stole her heart?

KASIE: Oh goodness. That is scandalous indeed. Well, it would have to Perry from Under The Never Sky. Mainly because I love him.

HAWKEYEThe premise of TDBU settles around a sweet Pride & Predjudice kind of romance. What is the most important quality in a strong romance to you?

KASIE: I love humor. It's why I fell in love with my husband (he is the funniest man I know) and I always try to bring at least a little of it into all my romances. 

HAWKEYE: Panem is real and Xander has been chosen as a tribute in the Hunger Games. What district is he from? 

KASIE: Xander is definitely from the Capitol (no district for him). I mean, the boy is rich rich rich. 

HAWKEYEThe world is dying to know; are you a Planner of a Pantser?

KASIE: Pantser for sure. But that means my edits are bears. My first drafts usually become my "outlines". I'm a fast writer and that first draft is very skeletal. So the next several hundred read throughs are for fleshing it out. 

HAWKEYEIf there is one thing you know now, that you wish you had known before your debut was published, what would it be?

KASIEStay away from reviews. :) They can rip your soul out and keep you from writing if they're bad. Or make you think you can never write another book as good as the one you just wrote if they're good. It's a double edged sword. Best to just avoid them and concentrate on writing and enjoying getting to know readers.  

HAWKEYEWhat's the most important thing you want teen readers to take away from TDBU when they read it this summer?

KASIETo not judge too quickly. It's easy to look at someone and assume you know them or to immediately put a label on them, but getting to know someone is the only way to truly see who they are.

HAWKEYE:  Having dipped your toe into the supernatural and contemporary, what genres do you plan to explore next, if any new ones?

KASIEI think I found the two I enjoy working in the best. For now, I plan to play around in both of them as much as possible. 

---THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US---
Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers studies the rich like her own personal science experiment, and after years of observation she’s pretty sure they’re only good for one thing—spending money on useless stuff, like the porcelain dolls in her mother’s shop.

So when Xander Spence walks into the store to pick up a doll for his grandmother, it only takes one glance for Caymen to figure out he’s oozing rich. Despite his charming ways and that he’s one of the first people who actually gets her, she’s smart enough to know his interest won’t last. Because if there’s one thing she’s learned from her mother’s warnings, it’s that the rich have a short attention span. But Xander keeps coming around, despite her best efforts to scare him off. And much to her dismay, she's beginning to enjoy his company.

She knows her mom can’t find out—she wouldn’t approve. She’d much rather Caymen hang out with the local rocker who hasn’t been raised by money. But just when Xander’s attention and loyalty are about to convince Caymen that being rich isn’t a character flaw, she finds out that money is a much bigger part of their relationship than she’d ever realized. And that Xander’s not the only one she should’ve been worried about.
Now. All you readers, it's time for you to answer a question. How excited are YOU for this book? You've heard from the brilly author, you've read the synopsis, and seen the cover. Time to vote in the poll! As for me, well I could shoot my eye out.

What to do when you hate your writing






At some point, you'll probably hate your writing.

Depressing, huh?

Like anyone else, my writing journey has its ups and downs. Lately I've gone all Hulk on it (yep, we're back to 0 days since last incident). Chaining me to that chair is impossible.

“In case you needed to kill me, but you can’t! I know, I tried!  I got low. I didn’t see an end, so I put a bullet in my mouth and the other guy spit it out! So I moved on. I focused on helping other people. I was good, until you dragged me back into this freak show and put everyone here at risk!” -Bruce Banner















It's not easy being a writer. Somedays you just feel like you're doing it wrong. What if you mess up? What if you rewrite it wrong? WHAT IF NO ONE LIKES IT?

*breathing in, breathing out*

There are no "rules" for sure success. But I've made a list (apparently, I make a lot of lists as an Avenger), that might help you. 


3 questions to ask yourself when you feel like your writing sucks


1. Why did you start writing?

Remember the first time you chewed on a blue crayon and plagiarised your own version of The Three Little Bears? You started a life long obsession passion for writing. Remember the thrill of mashing words together and coming out with something all your own? You created! It felt good!

Um, look this is bringing back bad Hulkish memories for me, so we'll move on, okay?


2. Who TOLD you it was suckish?

Mm? Yeah. I thought so. NO ONE. You're your own worst critique, and believe me, that has pros and cons. (Take it from a dude who has alter egos for his alter egos.) Nothing you do is ever that bad. It can be bad, oh yeah, horrible and scary. We all have those days. But it's not going to stay that way. Want to know why?

Common sense [my work sucks] is no match for passion [I want to be a great writer].


3. Who exactly are you writing for?

This is important. Trust me! Who spends the most time "working" with your writing? You. Who's passion and drive keeps it alive? Yours. Who thinks about it day and night? Solves plot problems over breakfast? Gets great inspiration eating noodles? Is up at 2am "just finishing" those last chapters while the ideas run hot? YOU.

Who should you be writing for? You.

Yeah, we want an audience and we want other people to love our work (and we want to be a NYT bestseller), but it's an awful lot of work if you're not doing it first and foremost for yourself.



I'm just a scientist with purple trousers and a knack for all things Gamma (unfortunately). I'm not a professional writer. My questions might sound a little selfish. But, that's okay. Just have a little think about it, alright? And if you feel like your writing sucks at the moment, let me put a greenish hand on your shoulder and tell you something.

It's okay.

You probably think it's "not good" enough because it isn't. But, you know what? Because you CAN see it's not good enough, that means you have great taste. A great eye for good writing. It means you have talent. So keep working. Keep going.

And just SMASH anyone who tells you otherwise, okay? Or I will for you. 

Good on you, mate.


Now. A little something to cheer you up. (Note when Fury specifically tells puny god Thor to be a man. This is good, oh yeah.)



Thor's Thoughts: Hookers and Hangers

Greetings once again, good humans. I am certain you are wondering about the title of this post. Do not despair, I mean not to discuss the scantily clad human females nor plastic clothes-holders, but literary tools to help us all draw readers into our story, and keep them reading.

I shall explain these literary terms further.

Hooker: A line at the beginning of a book/chapter/scene that immediately draws the reader into the story.

Hanger: A line and the END of a book/chapter/scene that entices the reader to turn the page and start the next section (or search for more books by that author).

As you can see, it's quite simple.

The strategy for writing appropriate hookers and hangers is similar. Strong and vivid language is the most important element. A hooker/hanger can be anything, but there are a few things to keep in mind.

Let's start with Hookers...

1) Don't start with dialogue.
Unless the line is dripping with voice, dialogue at the beginning of a scene is pointless. The reader needs to get a sense of setting and character before speech.

2) Make every word count.
There should never be any unnecessary words in your writing, but particularly at the beginning of your story, chapter, or scene. The first sentence is also a first impression, and they both leave a mark, for better or worse.


Now, on the subject of Hangers...

1) Think TENSION.
You want to leave your reader with something to remember. Make them FEEL something. Whether they laugh, cry, or throw the book across the room, readers read to feel. Leave them with something memorable, to make them want to turn to the next page.

2) Wrap it up.
It's a balancing act. You have to leave them enthralled enough that they'll turn the page, but make sure the scene is completed as well. Particularly at the end of the entire book. The way you end your story might determine whether a reader will look for your work in the future.


Here are some examples of hookers and hangers from published and self-published books that happen to be on my kindle and bookshelf at the moment...


WHISPERS IN AUTUMN, by Trisha Leigh, Chapter One:

Hooker: Before my eyelids crack open I know I've traveled again.

Hanger: I haven't got friends anywhere.


FINNIKIN OF THE ROCK, by Melina Marchetta, Prologue

Hooker: A long time ago, in the spring in the spring before the five days of the unspeakable, Finnikin of the Rock dreamed that he was to sacrifice a pound of flesh to save the royal house of Lumatere.

Hanger: Until ten years later, when Finnikin of Lumatere climbed another rock....


REASONS I FELL FOR THE FUNNY FAT FRIEND by Becca Ann, Chapter One:

Hooker: More than half the time, girls who think they're fat really aren't.

Hanger: Damn brother ruins everything.


ONE, by Leigh Ann Kopans, Chapter Thirty (final chapter)

Hooker: The cold has injected a shock of vibrancy into the broad brush-stroked colors that paint the horizon.

Hanger: I think we just went supersonic.


RISEN, by Britney Jensen, Chapter Seventeen (final chapter)

Hooker: The moon was a high white orb in the sky by the time I left the motel and started the one mile walk to the university library.

Hanger: It's time for the hunted to become the hunter.


SHADOW AND BONE, by Leigh Bardugo, Chapter Twenty-two (final chapter except the epilogue)

Hooker: Dawn was creeping over Kribirsk as Ivan brought me back to my tent.

Hanger: When the tears came, he pulled me close and held me, until there was nothing left but ashes.


As you can see, hookers are more of a focus at the beginning of the book, and hangers at the end -- for good reason. But often, you can get a sense of the entire chapter from just those two sentences. Speaking of which, even within a sentence there can be hookers and hangers. Putting strong words at the end of a sentence gives it more punch. Remember these little tips and tricks when polishing your manuscript.

Any other thoughts you'd like to add? Feel free to do so in the comments.
Many thanks for reading today. Farewell.

-THOR

Loki's Journey Part Six: Writer's Block


THOR:

*CRASH*

Loki has thrown his laptop out the window.

"You did save your manuscript somewhere else?"

"Of course I did, you imbecile! Haven't you heard of Dropbox?!" I do not answer. I do not know of this Dropped Box. But Loki continues. "I don't see what the POINT is though. I have nothing. NOTHING."

"You have thirty-thousand words, brother. That's more than half of a strong YA novel. You must keep writing."

"How can I when I don't know what to write?" He waves his arms in the air as he speaks.

Captain America runs into the room. "What happened? I heard -- " He sees the window and sighs. "Loki,"

"Oh don't you LOKI me," my brother says. "I am DONE. I thought I had the patience for this but I don't, and there's nothing you can do to change my mind!"

I roll my eyes. "Brother, you have writer's block. It's something we all struggle with."

"Yes, except most of us don't throw things when it hits." The Man of Iron says as he and the others enter the room. "Quite childish, wouldn't you say, Hulkie?"

Banner holds up his hands. "Hey, I didn't ask to be involved."

I approach Loki and place my hands on his shoulders. "Brother, we are trying to help you. But we can not help if you will not try."

Natasha places a different laptop on the table, and I hold my hand out toward it. Loki sits with a huff.

I lean over and whisper to him. "Do not be a child, brother, or you will only prove the Man of Iron correct."

LOKI: If there is one thing I refuse to do, it is to further boost Stark's ego. I thrust open Natasha's laptop, and she types in her password. I try to look as she does, but her fingers move too fast for me to catch even a letter. The screen opens to a word document. The cursor blinks.

"Type," Thor says.

A million different possible sentences run through my mind, but most of them involve killing the Avengers in gruesome, terrible ways and have nothing to do with my story (one even involves a toaster oven). I debate about incorporating them into Isaac's plot.

"You haven't moved," Captain Grandpa says.

"I'm thinking," I grunt.

"Well, that shouldn't take that long," Stark says.

I roll my eyes. Got to prove him wrong. Maybe... maybe... I think I've written Isaac into a tough spot.

Maybe Isaac needs someone to get him out of that. Maybe a side kick. An EVIL side kick. I glance at Natasha and decide that if I could create a character half as intimidating as her, I will have succeeded.

Enter Lorraine. So evil she can create a bomb from a toaster oven, a bobby pin, and some leftover mushroom marinara.

I type furiously. Stark raises his eyebrows with surprise, and I grin.


CAPTAIN AMERICA: "Ah, so you've got a budding romance?" Stark says. I can see the anger building in Loki's eyes. "Never took you for that type, Loki. You know, you and I could go to-"

"That's enough, Stark," I cut in. He raises an eyebrow, which looks funny because, well, he's nearly a foot shorter than me.

"Can we please get back on track?" Banner asks. He has the most whiny voice I've ever heard. And I've heard a ton of voices.

"So what does this, ah, Lorraine girl do?" Hawkeye asks, always to the point.

"Can you not read, shortcake?" Loki asks. I snort and he cuts his gaze to me.

"Sorry," I mutter. I read over Loki's shoulder when he turns back to the screen.

Apparently Lorraine can do a lot of evil things. She sounds like a female version of Loki, which could be bad if every guy out there ran to her assistance.

"You can't keep saying 'Lorraine snapped' everytime she speaks. And it looks like she's speaking a whole lot of nothing," I say. Loki glares at me. I'm getting used to it. "Every word in the story needs to be essential to the story - in either building the world or moving the plot."

"We use that in our world as well, Captain. Speak only that which you must," Thor says. I nod.

"I do not like when you all agree on something," Loki says.

"We agree on lots of things," Natasha adds with a shrug.

"Yep." I cross my arms. "I could have argued that you didn't have writer's block before. But now that you're writing dialogue that's going nowhere, you've got it for sure."

Stark claps. "Thank you, Mr. Rogers, our genius."

I clench my fist. And of course, Banner starts droning on.



HULK: Writers' block isn't that difficult. I mean, you can just smash it, right? I'm not sure if Loki is playing Drama Queen (that title suits him, now I come to think of it) or if he's legitimately stuck. I sigh. I guess I'll give him the benefit of a doubt. Like I do.

It's tough being nice.

"Why don't you take a break, Loki?" I say. "Writers' block is simply a misnomer because the "block" implies one monolithic cause, when in reality --"

Captain America spins on his chair and holds up a hand. "Banner, please. English?"

"That is English," Stark says. "Best English I've heard all day, actually."

I cough politely. "Sorry. I'm just trying to say, writers' block is usually the cause of being stressed."

Loki looks bored.

"When you're, um, stressed..." Come to think of it, I feel kind of stressed right now. I wipe my sweaty palms on my purple pants. "The human brain shifts the control from the cerebral cortex to the limbic --"

"Woah! Green man!" Loki says. He smooths his helmet-thing, which I think makes him look like an antelope, but apparently he thinks is kingly. "I am not human. I am a god."

"I forgot," I mutter. "Puny."

"And," Loki goes on, his voice rising, "I'm not stressed! I'm not blocked! I am writing perfectly with no problems at all!"

"Denial," Stark and I say together. We share a half smile. Loki smoulders. The Captain rubs his temples.

"Maybe you need to talk through your block," Stark suggests, "but I wouldn't recommend Banner."

I feel bad. "Tony, about that elevator in Switzerland --"

Stark waves it away. "Don't worry. I don't mind telling it again. Besides, I probably started at the wrong place. It should have been back, before I took over Stark Industries --"

Oh great green eggs and ham. Help.



BLACK WIDOW: I roll my eyes and hold up a hand. "Stark. Enough. Your narcissism will get us nowhere. What Loki needs to do is think this through."

I walk over and lean toward his screen, ignoring the angry glare he gives me. "See, Loki, your problem is that this new love interest character has no personality outside of 'evil.'"

He snorts. "As if that isn't enough."

"It's not." Rogers jumps in. "Good character means chivalry, integrity, humilty, selflessnes..."

"Wrong again, Patriotpants." Stark interrupts. "We're not talking about the Boy Scouts here. That might be good moral character, but it doesn't mean every book needs to have it."

Rogers is about to answer back when Thor preempts him. "The Man of Iron is correct, brother. This character must be like you and I, not some blank, frosty beast."

"Thank you for that, brother." Loki glowers at him. "So, how do I fix it?"

I can't believe he's actually asking for help. I do my best to conceal my surprise as Clint answers. "Well, everything she says right now has to tell us something about her. What are her inner motives? Make her interesting."



HAWKEYE: Loki snorts, "But evil IS interesting."

I give a little nod. "Villains done right are interesting. But you have nothing INTERESTING about Lorraine. Sure, she has heck-a-million skills, but there's no drive or weakness to her skill. Why is she being evil? Is it revenge? Is it power? Everything needs a reason and a driving force." Seriously, can skulls get any thicker?

Stark has the nerve to speak again. “She's as perfect as my hair Antler man. Mess her up a bit.”

"Fine.” I don't like the glint in his eye. It's very...evil. Big surprise. “You want interesting? I'll give you interesting, Hobbit Boy."

Loki sets his fingers to the keyboard and begins to type away. Uh-oh. This can only go one direction, downhill. We sit in silence for a few minutes watching to Loki type away until Thor cuts in. “Ho brother! You're writing again! Why don't you read what you've got.”

“Oh no, I couldn't. I'm too uninteresting for that.” Loki hands the laptop to me. “Why don't you do the honors... Clint.”

Warning bells are ringing like mad in my brain. I really don't like where this is going. But I take the laptop anyway and read:

“Lorraine paced menacingly in front of the prisoner. Ah, she was beautiful in all her evil glory. Her tall womanly figure wasn't hard to miss in the empty room. I watched from the shadows in the corner taking it all in. The prisoner cowed down as she leaned in close to his face.

“Are you ready to tell me yet?” She laughed, “Or would you like be to slice you?” In a split second, a knife is in her hand.

The man shook his head furiously. “Who are you? Why are you doing this? Please don't do this. I have a family at home.”

Lorraine just laughed. “Therein lies the problem, Shortie. Can I call you shortie? Of course I can, these heels make you look up to me. The tables have finally turned to my favor.”

“I don't understand.”

“What? You don't remember? You don't remember your Sarah Bear?” A gasp slipped from the mans lips. He remembered.

“Yes, it's me. But your Sarah is long gone. I am Lorraine now. When you left me that day in the rain, I vowed no one would get the better of me again. And so I became a new person. A warrior. I am POWER. I should thank you for teaching me all the things I've learned in life. Never trust anyone, they'll just lead you astray. Won't they,” she leaned in close and practically spat in his face, “Clinton?”


Clint? OH NO he didn't. I can just hear Loki's taunting voice in my head. Oh but I did. I already hated the guy, and this stupid book wasn't helping me. The only reason I stuck around was to keep my eye on the guy. Not to mention, I didn't exactly want to look like a fool. A growl rose in my throat.

Natasha put her hand on my arm. “Clint,” she muttered a warning in her low breath. “Don't go there. Now is the not the time for anger.”

I shook free of her grasp. “Oh I'm not angry. I don't need to be.”

I walk over to Banner and thrust the laptop into his hands. “Bruce, would you smash this for me?”



IRON MAN: "No laptop smashing," I said firmly. "Or any technology smashing at all. We do not smash."

Bruce gave me a look that plainly said he knew I was now just modifying House mottos from Game of Thrones but wasn't going to mention it unless I did, since the others would have a go at me for being unproductive in the time they thought I'd been working. To be fair, I'd read them first, and these guys liked reading. That was their thing.

That and this misguided attempt to get a decent novel out of Loki, which I really wasn't convinced by. I mean, hell, first drafts need work, but...

I realized that I was the focus of their attention (finally!) a few seconds later. The others were staring at me.

"Stark?" said Bruce. "Do you have anything useful to contribute?"

"Why, isn't my very presence stimulating enough?" I glanced at Loki. "Besides, ole Mischief seems to be getting on okay now. Back in the swing of it, as it were."

Cap frowned. "Is something wrong, Stark? You're normally raring to share your ideas. Today you're pretty quiet."

"I've shared all the opinion I've got," I said, irritable and unfriendly. "Loki's not a child. He can do this himself, and we can help in edits."

"You have the block too, Man of Iron!" said Thor triumphantly.

"Hang on a sec," I said. "I never said I was blocked."

"But you are, aren't you?" said Hawkeye with a look that suggested he wasn't that sorry.

"How is this now about me?"

"Seconded," said Loki. "How is this now about him?"

Cap shrugged. "Isn't it always?"


TFA's In The Spotlight: Q&A with Dawn Metcalf, Author of INDELIBLE + Giveaway


I'm back with another TFA feature today! I love featuring authors and their upcoming debuts/releases. Everyone needs to get in the spotlight every once in a while, don't you agree? And today's feature is even better - the author donated a copy of her upcoming release to one lucky YAvengers reader.

Dawn Metcalf
The role of Dawn Metcalf will be played by the tall brunette in the off-the-shoulder, floor-length leather straitjacket. Makeup by Clinique, buckles by Jada Pinkett-Smith, hair by Jim Henson's Creature Shop.

I have no good excuse for the way I write. I lived in a normal, loving, suburban home, studied hard, went to college, went to graduate school, got married, had babies, and settled down in northern Connecticut. Despite this wholesome lifestyle, I've been clearly corrupted by fairy tales, puppet visionaries, British humour and graphic novels. As a result, I write dark, quirky, and sometimes humorous speculative fiction.


Captain America: I'll cut straight to the chase. Pitch your novel, INDELIBLE, in a tweet. If you're new to electronics, a tweet consists of 140 characters, typed on a keyboard much like a typewriter, only smaller.

Dawn Metcalf: Boy meets girl, girl meets boy, boy accidentally stabs girl in the eye, plunging her into a world of monsters, magic, honor & revenge.

Captain America: The stabbing in the eye part reminds me of Loki. INDELIBLE takes place in a world of monsters and illusions, what made you write a fantasy novel?

Dawn Metcalf: Well nobody made me--I went willingly! I read everything "fantastic" when I was a kid, from fairy tales, science fiction, fantasy and mystery to mythology, legend, graphic novels and ancient lore. I tend to see the unusual in the everyday, imagining what kind of fairy would live in a rotted stump or how a piece of plumbing might be made into a ray gun. (Pictures on my Facebook page!) Essentially, I like to write "What If" novels with worlds and characters with a bit of twist. If 180 degrees could be considered "a bit."

Captain America: I should have worded that differently. Do you have a favorite line that was removed from the original draft of INDELIBLE?

Dawn Metcalf: The *original* draft? Whoa. Let me look...

By the time Dad came home, the house smelled warmly of onion and thyme and Joy knew Gordon’s entire life history, his web profile, rather intimate preferences and one or two embarrassing family stories. She was surprised she hadn’t learned his social security number, but figured Monica had to save something for marriage.

Keep in mind this was about 6 drafts ago, back when I wrote the original text to "the end" back in 2009, but Monica and Joy were still great characters with a snarky sort of wit I adore!


Captain America: We YAvengers love hearing the tales of an author's journey to publication, can you tell us a little bit about your journey to getting INDELIBLE, or your debut, published?

Dawn Metcalf: My debut publishing journey was a Cinderella story that quickly became a princess falling down the stairs--or, more accurately, *slowly* falling down the stairs--story as it was bumped again and again and again, being almost 4 years between contract to appearing on local shelves and getting lost in the cracks as the entire industry began suffering transition pains. But I learned a lot and still wouldn't have traded my editor for anything. Yet by the time LUMINOUS was out in the world, INDELIBLE was finished and being shopped around. Truth be told, a lot of business decisions are based on your previous numbers (which I (un)fortunately didn't have yet), and so I was lucky that my second book was bought on its own merits without worrying about how my poor first book was doing in the wake of Borders going under and a multi-pub house collapse. I was thrilled to be working with Natashya Wilson, the brains behind Julie Kagawa's stunning IRON FEY series! I'm really very proud of how this book has matured and how I have grown as a writer and how I can launch a fresh series. And since I've just turned in the first draft of INDELIBLE's sequel, I can now concentrate on watching Book One fly!

Captain America: Thanks for joining us! Now, here's a little bit about Ms Metcalf's novel, INDELIBLE, which releases on July 30th, 2013 from HarlequinTeen.

Indelible (The Twixt, #1) 

Some things are permanent.

Indelible.

And they cannot be changed back.

Joy Malone learns this the night she sees a stranger with all-black eyes across a crowded room—right before the mystery boy tries to cut out her eye. Instead, the wound accidentally marks her as property of Indelible Ink, and this dangerous mistake thrusts Joy into an incomprehensible world—a world of monsters at the window, glowing girls on the doorstep, and a life that will never be the same.

Now, Joy must pretend to be Ink’s chosen one—his helper, his love, his something for the foreseeable future...and failure to be convincing means a painful death for them both. Swept into a world of monsters, illusion, immortal honor and revenge, Joy discovers that sometimes, there are no mistakes.

Somewhere between reality and myth lies…

THE TWIXT

Find Dawn Metcalf on: Goodreads | Website | Twitter
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Keeping in theme to The Fury Awards, vote on how excited YOU are to read INDELIBLE. Your vote could nominate INDELIBLE to win The Fury Awards at the end of the season!


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When Writing Has no Time in Your Day


Let's face it. We have lives. Some of us choose to do wrong (ahem, Loki) others choose to have so many things to do that they have no time to do any of them.

As someone who is always busy - either designing as my alter ego, reading, or living my life as Captain America - time is hard to come by for writing.

But no matter what, if you call yourself a real writer, you have to write every day. In the Fierce Reads panel the other day, Leigh Bardugo (the author of SHADOW AND BONE who I was lucky enough to meet) put it beautifully: don't let one day without writing turn into a month. Write everyday, even if it's just a few words in your journal, or lines on the back of a receipt. Even if you have writer's block, ESPECIALLY if you have writer's block. Write, write, write.

But what if you can't set time for it? Here's a trick. Don't.

When there's something you want to do, chances are you'll do it no matter what. Work, work and work, and then you'll subconsciously make time for what you love without meaning to. Even if you're dead-tired, you'll prolong your bedtime just so you can get in a little writing before hitting your pillow. You have to feel it in you - you have to feel the guilt of missing a day of writing even if you can't find the words for it.

Some people find it easy to follow a daily schedule. Wake up at this time, eat at this time, exercise, socialize, write, and so on. But if you're like me, everyday brings a new challenge, a different task. No two days are alike. A schedule you set up today will make you snort in laughter tomorrow. I mean, just yesterday I had to go arrow-shopping with Hawkeye, who ever thought that would happen?



So what I'm saying is, make writing a spontaneous habit that you do every day without making it a job you do everyday. As ironic as that sounds, it works.

Writing is a hobby. A gift. Something to love. Don't make it a job, or that's all it will be. And jobs that are hard to do are jobs done wrong.

Now, onto following my own advice.

Trailer Reveal for ONE by Leigh Ann Kopans with a Guest Post from Wasp

My alter-ego revealed the gorgeous cover for Leigh Ann Kopans's debut novel ONE a few months ago. Today, Leigh Ann celebrates her release day - congratulate her on Twitter! Her favorite Avenger is the Wasp, who was too small to make it to the movie, unfortunately. In any case, I'm thrilled to have the Wasp here for a guest post leading up to the trailer that the YAvengers are exclusively revealing!

Hey everyone, it’s the Wasp here. It’s my first post on YAvengers, and I’m SO excited to be here. Most of all, because no one really notices me, like, ever.

Part of that is because I’m small, but part of that is because I’m unassuming. I don’t have a lot of tech like Tony, a big hammer like Thor, or huge muscles like the Hulk. I don’t even have the fancy equipment that Clint does, or the insane spy training and gun slinging skills that Natasha flaunts everywhere.

I’m the size of a large bug, I fly around, and I shoot bioenergy from my palms. Yep. That’s me.

You probably saw my name up there on the byline and thought, “Hey, she’s not an Avenger,” just because I wasn’t in that flashy 2012 movie (Thanks for nothing, Joss.) Damn straight I’m an Avenger – in fact, I’m the one who suggested the group’s name. As far as the Avengers go, I’ve been around forever. Just because I wasn’t in a big fancy twenty-first century movie or on any 2012 merch does not mean I’m not Marvel-legit. To prove it, here’s a pic of me with the team:



I know I’m small, and I know Joss didn’t think I was awesome enough to put in his movie. But I do have a couple things going for me – a mission, and the guts to go after it. Long story short, my dad was killed by some evil rogue aliens. I didn’t know much about his experiments before then – I was too busy shopping and partying. But as soon as he was gone, I knew it was time for me to step up to the plate. I underwent a crazy-risky biochemical process that made me into the incredibly shrinking, energy tossing lady that I am. I fought supervillains on my own for a while, but eventually I talked all those blowhard guys– Tony, Bruce, and Steve – into forming a team, and we became the Avengers.



For me, being a superhero is all about taking a risk, in throwing yourself after a goal even if you don’t know exactly what the end will look like. It’s about knowing when you need a team, and knowing the right people to help you put it together.

Being a tiny superhero is a lot like self-publishing a book, actually. It’s smaller than small – small budget, small team, small (almost no) history. At the same time, it’s huge on a couple things – determination, work ethic, bravery, and an eye for putting an amazing team together.

And, just like me, self-publishing a book can be quietly, unexpectedly, and completely awesome.

I’m excited to show you the trailer for one such self-published book, ONE by Leigh Ann Kopans. It’s about superpowers – sort of –and one of the main characters has the same last name as I do (no coincidence,) so you KNOW it’s going to be awesome. Small and mighty – just like me. It also comes out today, so check it out and pick it up if you think it’s interesting. Here's the link.

Enjoy!

LeighAnn Kopans

Raised on comic books and classic novels, Leigh Ann developed an early love of science fiction and literature. As an adult, she rediscovered her love for not only reading, but also writing the types of fiction that enchanted her as a teen. Her debut novel, ONE, is about a girl with only half a superpower, the boy who makes her fly, and her struggle to make herself whole.

Leigh Ann, her husband, and four children live in Columbus, Ohio. When she’s not immersed in the world of fiction, you can find her obsessing over the latest superhero movie or using her kids as an excuse to go out for ice cream (again.)
And now, the moment you've been waiting for: THE TRAILER!



Find Leigh Ann on her Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook
Add ONE to Goodreads
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One
When having two powers makes you a Super and having none makes you a Normal, having only one makes you a sad half-superpowered freak.

It makes you a One.

Sixteen-year-old Merrin Grey would love to be able to fly – too bad all she can do is hover.

If she could just land an internship at the Biotech Hub, she might finally figure out how to fix herself. She busts her butt in AP Chem and salivates over the Hub’s research on the manifestation of superpowers, all in hopes of boosting her chances.

Then she meets Elias VanDyne, another One, and all her carefully crafted plans fly out the window. Literally. When the two of them touch, their Ones combine to make them fly, and when they’re not soaring over the Nebraska cornfields, they’re busy falling for each other.

Merrin's mad chemistry skills land her a spot on the Hub's internship short list, but as she gets closer to the life she always wanted, she discovers that the Hub’s purpose is more sinister than it has always seemed. Now it’s up to her to decide if it's more important to fly solo, or to save everything - and everyone - she loves.

Slow And Steady Keeps Pepper Off Your Back

I am the worst when it comes to taking things steadily. I’m sure you’re all well-aware of the temptation of the Shiny New Novel: once you start writing, you just want to write it forever and ever, right? So you drop everything. Academic work, a social life, any other writing commitments you had, and you just write. As much as you can, as fast as you can, without looking back. You have to know what happens in this shiny new novel and you are not going to let it get away from you.

I know how that feels. I get that. With writing; with my suits. With basically anything that can hold my interesting longer than a sandwich (and trust me, a sandwich could hold my interest a lot longer if its lifespan wasn’t about three seconds as soon as it got into my hand, because it’s hard to be interested in the contents of your stomach).

If you’re anything like me, writing can be an escape. A distraction. Recently, I’ve been writing so I don’t end up thinking too much about what happened in New York, and it’s a slow and steady healing process. Right now, it’s still at the stage where typing that meant I needed a minute or two to recover my breath, but I’m getting there.

I start writing and tell myself that it’s just to take a break from everything else, and three days later I find myself in front of a screen with forty thousand words in the document, not having slept for 72 hours. Sometimes I even forget to eat, and if you know me, you know that’s a fairly rare occurrence.

https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRxT-byx8r7BKbiX8ZZMt7f0MgPwLbOsC_76Z7YwjJhyygzdhw5

See, it’s recently become clear to me that this isn’t the way to write a novel.

I’m not just saying this because Pepper yells at me every time she finds me writing at two in the morning without a decent excuse, although that might have contributed. (For the record, a deadline for this blog definitely counts as a decent excuse. Fury complains when I’m late, but to be honest, he’s lucky I’m condescending to do this at all when I have all my genius-billionaire-playboy-philanthropist stuff to be doing. He knows I only do it ‘cause I don’t want Loki to steal the limelight…)

You see, once or twice in a year you find you need to pull an all-nighter and get a load done for whatever reason. Sometimes a mad dash for a high wordcount goal is just for the fun of it, and that’s fine. But when that’s your life and you’re churning out suits novels on a weekly basis? Something’s wrong.

Writing isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. Sometimes you have to take it slower if you want to take it seriously, and I’m guessing most of you are thinking about this with careers in mind. Write everyday, but don’t kill yourself doing it.

Chuck Wendig advocates 350 words a day and weekends off. Obviously, for full-time writers, that’s nothing, so you might have to up it. But notice the weekends off. Time away from your writing is important.

Other people go for a steady 750; more ambitious writers might tackle 1000 words or follow the NaNoWriMo principle of 1667, resulting in 50k each month. I’m not about to warn you against writing more, if you’ve got a bunch of time to write in or you type fast. You have to find a groove and settle into it. But I’m fairly sure nobody with a day job or academic commitments of some sort has a groove of 10,000 words a day on a regular basis … no, not even my alter-ego, though trust me, she tries. Pepper tends to watch in dismay (but I swear there’s some awe in there too).

You see, if you do that long enough, you get creatively exhausted. You reach the end of your book and that’s it: your inspiration is gone. You don’t have the energy left to write another one, and maybe even reading through that one is out of the question. Those everyday writing tasks like blogging? They’re exhausting. You don’t know what to write.

Right now, Pepper is watching me from across the room, because she’s refusing to go away until I leave JARVIS and go and have something to eat and get some sleep. Like Thor said, you have to take breaks sometimes. Writing is important, writing everyday is important … but writing to the point where you get ill and you have no brainpower left? That’s not that important.

Nor is making suits until you’re on the verge of collapse because you can’t sleep and you don’t want your girlfriend to know. Nor is doing anything beyond the point of reason.

I’ve learned this to my cost. Does the blog post seem shorter than usual? Yeah. Creatively exhausted, just like I said.

So for once I’m going to follow my own advice (and Pepper’s) and dial it back a little. Just for a bit. The suits will still get built, the novels still written … but there’s actually no rush.

-- Iron Man.

What Archery Teaches Us

Admit it. Archers are so cool.. Like WAY cool. So I'm gonna do a little roundup and tell you about a few of my favorite Archers in literature! You've probably heard of them, maybe you're read or seen their own unique stories. And then, I'm gonna take a look at them from a writers perspective. [And Cappy deserves credit for inspiring this post!]


First up is Katniss from the Hunger Games. Are you really surprised? Her movie rocked almost as much as Avengers did. And she kicks some serious butt. This girl knows what she wants and is passionate about it. She holds the things she loves close and protects it with the said passion. She's got a soul and not to mention she won a freaking gladiator match.


Second, we have Legolas from Lord of the Rings. Um, do I really need to say ANYTHING at this point? Nope. Didn't think so. 


Our third observation is Robin Hood from...well, Robin Hood. This guy is a legend. So many stories, movies, plays, re-enactments and stories have been done of his famous tales and adventures. (Like Scarlet by A. C. Gaughen) His efforts to bestow justice in a community where none exists. He's loyal to his people and his band, and is willing to do what is necessary, but on the side he has a romantic side. Gosh, darnit, he's pretty legit if I do say so myself.


Kudos must also be given to Princess Merida from Brave. First Disney princess anyway to break out of the Disney Princess icon. She's fierce and she knows what she wants. She'll fight for her freedom and she's pretty vocal about where the stands. But in the end she's still loyal to those she loves. She's a little fireball of independence with a pretty great aim.

***********************

So yeah, just to name a few. But what exactly, can we learn from these great archers, and/or their skill sets? I'll tell you. Here are a few comparisons I've found:

#1) Writing isn't all Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo. Of course we all know that. Anyone can write, just like anyone could probably make the arrow leave the bow. But the real writers are the ones can perfect the craft. Those who learn how to do it just right and make it a skill, just like the archers that learn how to hit the bullseye  .

#2) In many cases with the above mentioned Archers, yes, they developed this skill, but they used it to defend themselves and the people they loved. They are using their skills to protect their beliefs and what they live for. For example, take Robin Hood, why was he an outlaw? Because he was fighting the wrong-doings that were made right by the corrupted leadership. He was helping because he knew it was the right thing to do. He was protecting the right. And I think writing can be a lot like that.

Sure, we all have genius imaginations. And some of us take action upon that to make a great story. But what I love to see in books, is when authors move beyond that. Beyond the imagination, to another level. Writing is usually at it's best when it portrays some belief or aspect of the human nature that you can connect with on a deeper basis. That's when it's .

#3) Writing can be pure fun. Take Merida for example. There is a scene in Brave where you see her galloping through the forest, as free as the wind, while practicing her archery at different set up targets. And what's the most obvious thing in that moment? Not that she's free of her duties, or an amazing archer, but that it's something she loves and is connected too. Writing and totally should be about it. It takes work, when the better you get, the funner it gets along with it! You can do so much, you can take your imagination to higher levels than you ever dreamer. It gets pretty legit.

So what is my point? A) Archers freaking rock. It's a legit skill and one that's totally fun to read about! and B) Archery is actually a lot like writing. Fancy that.

And with that, I will leave you now. But first, what connections I might have missed that you find in archery? Who are your favorite literary archers? Let me know down below, I'm off to do some target practice...

Precision (word) Strikes

One thing that's incredibly valuable to a super-spy is precision. Without it, I might get into situations even I couldn't get out of.

As a writer, it's equally as important to use your words as a scalpel instead of a morning star. You know that book you absolutely adore? The author hand-selected each of those words, just for you. You've got to do the same thing, and that means you can't make basic mistakes. English is complicated. I get it. It drove me crazy when I learned it the first time. But it's got rules, and if I have to follow them, so do you.

So today, I'm going to tell you about some basic mistakes you can avoid making and how to sharpen weapons – I mean, words – to be a better writer.



  1. Disinterested v Uninterested

“What's the difference?” you ask. “Why is this important?” Well, it's like choosing a taser over a snub-nose. Both have their uses, but they aren't the same thing. Disinterested means “impartial.” A good judge is disinterested, as is a good assassin. Uninterested means “doesn't care.” Your brother (if he is like mine) is uninterested in which eyeliners just came out. Clint is uninterested in who carries the best catsuits.

  1. Affect v Effect

I never realized this was a problem for people until I joined Facebook. Here's the trick: affect is almost always a verb while effect is almost always a noun. You affect results, or the results take effect. Affect is the influence, effect is the outcome.

(There are some exceptions to the verb/noun rule. Effect is sometimes used as a transitive verb meaning “to bring about” and affect is sometimes used as a noun, i.e. “flat affect”.)







  1. Good v Well

Good is an adjective, well is an adverb. Good may be used with descriptive linking verbs like look, feel, sound, taste, or to be. It can also describe the subject. Well is used to describe most verbs and sometimes adjectives. In addition, you should always use well to describe physical health (“he's not feeling well”) and good to describe physical health.

  1. Done v. Finished

You've probably heard the age-old adage “turkeys are done, people are finished.” Wrong! Turkeys can be finished, and people can be done. In this case, you have to be careful about connotation versus denotation – both words mean the same thing (denotation) but there are cases where either alternate meanings of the word or simple cultural cues make one more appropriate. Choose wisely!

  1. Were v Was

Okay, I may just be including the subjunctive because its misuse drives me up a wall. Most people know the basic singular/plural rule – “I was” v “We were” – but more and more they seem to be neglecting the other side of these two beautiful words.
The past subjunctive exists only for the verb be. The indicative form uses the word was (in some cases) – “I was,” “he was,” “it was.” This is used to talk about something in the past that you were doing or are going to do. For example, “I was planning on going to Beth's party.” The subjunctive form uses the word were (in all cases). It's used in the “if/then” sentence. For example, “If I were planning on going to Beth's party, my mother would kill me!”
If = were. Otherwise, use the singular/plural rule!

-- Black Widow




P.S. Gold star if you manage to comment with a sentence using all five of these rules correctly. I might even encourage Fury to take you off the watchlist.