Wednesday, July 12, 2017

To Novel or To Short Story?

Typewriter with words "What's Your Story"


As long as I can remember, my focus has been on writing the great novel. It started with young adult stories, then adult contemporary and psychological thrillers. Every time I came up with an idea, I was filled with the excitement of starting something new. The old stories left unfinished.

I've critiqued other writers who've written short stories and appreciated their efforts but never thought that it was something I wanted to pursue... until now. 

If you're like me and haven't considered writing short stories, here are a few reasons why they might be worth diving into:

1) They are much shorter and thus take less time

I know - it's an obvious one.

2) You can experiment with writing craft

Have a style you're interested in or a craft element (i.e. metaphors, magical realism) you want to play with? A short story allows you to develop these skills without major investment.

3) Beginnings, middles and ends 

Short stories allow you to practice completing a story and seeing it through the entire arc.

4) Opportunities to be published

Novels (usually) take a long time to complete and once complete, you must go through a significant length of time for submission. Because short stories take less time, you have greater opportunities to send them out to literary journals and have them potentially published, thus building your street cred as you continue to pursue your great novel.

5) Sometimes you just need a break

Sometimes, you might be too engrossed in that one great novel. Short stories allow you to stretch and exercise your mind. Think of things in different points of view and examine ideas and characters you might not have thought about. 

Happy Writing!

Monday, July 10, 2017

YA Book Pick: WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI by Sandhya Menon

Once a month, we choose an outstanding YA book to review. We want to spotlight books of interest to aspiring writers, as well as highlight some of our favorite books and authors!

This month's book pick is When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon.

Synopsis (from Goodreads): Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

First Line: "Dimple couldn't stop smiling." 

This is a good intro to the story, which is, at its core, a romantic comedy. You immediately want to know what's making her smile, right?

Highlights: I'm a rom-com junkie from way back, so I have high expectations for the genre. This book definitely delivered! It managed to be light and funny while tackling some heavier topics (parental expectations vs. following your passion, feminism, first love, etc.). I loved the trope-busting detail that the guy was the one looking for a long-term commitment, not the girl. It's easy to see why this book was a NYT bestseller.

Notes for Writers: This is a great example of a "diverse" book that isn't about diversity—the protagonists happen to be Indian-American, but the themes are universal. One thing I loved, though, was that the author didn't shy away from peppering the story with plenty of interesting details about Indian culture. I was glad I read this book on my Kindle app and could easily click a word or phrase to read more about things that interested me.

A Good Read For: Romantic comedy fans and anyone looking for a light, fun read.

Monday, July 3, 2017

A Little Alliteration Please

I grew up reading Dr. Seuss and of course I loved his stories and his style of writing.  In fact, to this day I love alliteration and have used it many, many times over the years. For me, alliteration is fun and makes me smile.  Unfortunately, the writing world today seems to frown upon the technique which makes me ever so slightly sad.  Why just today, I saw an article that included a list of techniques writers should avoid. Alliteration was at the top of the list.

I can't say that I was shocked since I've read other articles suggesting writers avoid alliteration, but I am still surprised.  I can think of several influential writers (Edgar Allen Poe, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Homer, John Donne,etc.) that have used alliteration in their writing. Okay, Okay. Those writers were poets, but even in their prose they used alliteration and effectively.  See, alliteration captures the readers' attention and when read aloud has a musical quality thus writers like to use alliteration to reach out to their readers.

So, my take away. Alliteration isn't all that bad. Just use it to attract readers and use it subtly.  Happy crafting!


Friday, June 23, 2017

Author Ingrid Paulson shares writing advice, details on her latest release WHY I LOATHE STERLING LANE + a Giveaway

I'm excited to have Ingrid Paulson with us today to chat her newest release Why I Loathe Sterling Lane and share some writing advice. Make sure to scroll to the bottom of the post for a chance to win a prize pack!



Thanks so much for coming to Thinking to Inking! We're so excited to have you! Tell us a little bit about Why I Loathe Sterling Lane.
WHY I LOATHE STERLING LANE tells the story of a neurotic girl (Harper) whose world is turned upside down when Sterling Lane transfers into her boarding school and befriends her twin brother. Harper and Sterling immediately engage in a battle of wills that evolves into a battle of wits, and finally culminates in a reluctant partnership to rescue Cole from his own mistakes. (ahem, plus lots of kissing).

Which character do you relate most to?

This is a hard question, as I intentionally made these characters a little bit prickly at first. However, I probably relate a little more to Sterling. He says and does a few things that I wish I was brave enough to do or say. In fact, when I’m in a situation that requires me to be more assertive than I’m comfortable being, I think to myself, what would Sterling do? I usually take it down a notch or two, because let’s face it, fully stepping into Sterling’s shoes could land me in jail. But harnessing his character for a moment helps me square my shoulders and press on in difficult moments.

Was your writing process for Why I Loathe Sterling Lane different from Valkyrie Rising? If so how? Anything that surprised you along the way?
In revising Valkyrie Rising, I spent a lot of time focusing on world building and consistency of magical objects. It was much more story and flow oriented, whereas in revising Sterling Lane, I focused more on character development, and tried to find the balance between Harper being prickly and being outright unlikeable. She is still a challenge to get to know, but the point for me was to present a different sort of narrator.

The cover design for Why I Loathe Sterling Lane is really fun! How much input did you get in the design of your cover and what was that process like?

I’m so glad you love the cover too! Entangled does a fabulous job with covers and always manages to find the right tone to match the story. They did ask if I had an idea of what the cover would look like, and for this one, I really didn’t. I thought there should be people on the cover and some way to convey the tension between them, but I wasn’t sure how something like that would be executed. Fortunately, there are professionals who knew exactly how to handle it.

Are you a write-one-thing-at-a-time author, or do you typically juggle multiple projects at once? How do you stay focused?

I’m a write-one-thing-at-a-time author. I tend to really immerse myself in the characters, which makes it hard to switch back and forth. However, I have had to revise one project while writing another, and I seem to be able to do that. But I can’t imagine trying to keep multiple new ideas straight at the same time! I’d feel like I was cheating on my characters!

What advice would you give writers still working to make their publishing dreams a reality?

For me, the biggest struggle was learning to revise and incorporate feedback. After countless hours writing and polishing a novel, it can be hard to hear that something still needs to be changed or isn’t quite working. It’s very easy to get defensive and dismiss the critic because they just don’t get it. Granted, sometimes that will be true, no book is for everyone. However, it’s important to really think feedback through and be unafraid to revise and to step outside of your love for the project and be self-critical. Ultimately that will help your novel be even better!

What are you reading now?


I just finished the latest Sara Maas novel in the Court of Thorns and Roses series. I really enjoyed it!

Congrats on the launch of Why I Loathe Sterling Lane. I can't wait to get my hands on it! And thanks so much for stopping by Thinking to Inking!


About the novel
Why I Loathe Sterling Lane by Ingrid Paulson
Publication Date: June 6, 2017
Publisher: Entangled Teen
  
Per her 537 rules, Harper Campbell keeps her life tidy—academically and socially. But the moment Sterling Lane transfers into her tiny boarding school, her twin brother gets swept up in Sterling’s pranks and schemes and nearly gets expelled. Harper knows it’s Sterling’s fault, and to protect her brother, she vows to take him down. As she exposes his endless school violations, he keeps striking back, framing her for his own infractions. Worst of all, he’s charmed the administration into thinking he’s harmless, and only Harper sees him for the troublemaker he absolutely is.

As she breaks rule after precious rule in her battle of wits against Sterling and tension between them hits a boiling point, she’s horrified to discover that perhaps the two of them aren’t so different. And maybe she doesn't entirely hate him after all. Teaming up with Sterling to save her brother might be the only way to keep from breaking the most important rule—protecting Cole.



Goodreads Google Play | BAM | Chapters | Indies | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | TBD | iBooks

About the Author
Ingrid Paulson does not, in fact, loathe anyone. Although the snarky sense of humor and verbal barbs
in Why I Loathe Sterling Lane might suggest otherwise (and shock those who think they know her best).

Ingrid lives in San Francisco with her husband and children and enjoys long-distance running, eavesdropping, and watching science documentaries. She has always loved books and writing short stories, but was surprised one day to discover the story she was working on wasn’t so short any more. Valkyrie Rising, a paranormal girl power story was Ingrid’s first novel. Expect another humorous contemporary romance to join the list soon.



Enter for a change to win a Why I Loathe Sterling Lane Prize Pack, including:
* A tote bag
* A mug
* stickers

Monday, June 19, 2017

Writers Block


This is a topic I've run into on my last two WIPs.  In fact, after months of fretting, I finally slapped an ending on one and moved onto the next project.  Yet again I'm faced with how to end the next book.  I've searched and searched for ways of dealing with it and came up with something new I'm going to try.  In www.whynottedit.com/writers-block, I stumbled upon a really fun suggestion.  When stuck writing, I usually skip to the next part,
but since I'm now at the end, I can't do that, but I can use a random sentence generator to get some ideas flowing again.  So that's my helpful tip for the day.  Try out some of plot and sentence generators to help reboot your writing. You may not use the finish product, but it gets you back on track.