ABNA is Back!

Amazon has announced it’s 2014 Breakthrough Novel Award contest! It’s a little late, compared to years past, and everyone was starting to worry! I have to admit, it was a pretty good way to get us all amped up… whether or not that was their intention.🙂

Here’s a link for all the info! You can also go to Createspace.com to register!

So, we have about one month until the entry period begins (February 16). My only dilemma this year is what to enter. I have my tried and not-so-true TERRA INCOGNITA, which I have entered three years in a row, or my recently finished CREEPING SLOWLY & EVAPORATING, which still needs some major editing and rewriting… not to mention a pitch.🙂  Can I finish it in time? Well, I’m gonna try! If I don’t, at least I’ll have a back-up!

So, are you going to enter ABNA 2014? Check out the rules and give it a try! There’s nothing to lose… and possibly $50,000 and a publishing contract to win!😀

Back in the saddle again…

(Ha ha… my title just makes me picture the opening to an episode of Supernatural…)

Well, hello, all…  It’s me… I’ve been gone for far too long… my energy is returning — it was all I could do (out of curiosity, I googled this idiom) to keep my eyes open, being pregnant while caring for a 3-year old — and, with it, my creativity and inspiration… so, my writing has FINALLY resumed!

Yay! I even made my husband smile in the car the other day on the way to dinner… I was sitting quietly, listening to the playlist he had made me (music helps, don’t ya’ know) and thinking about my work-in-progress, when an idea occurred to me and I had to write it down. I grabbed the notebook/journal out of my purse but couldn’t find a pen, so I fumbled (quite frantically, in fact) around in the console area between the seats, dropping his iPods (yes, he has two — he loves music). When he asked me what I needed, I just said, “Pen,” (because I was afraid if I said more, I’d lose my train of thought) and finally held up the pen that was supposed to be in my purse to begin with. As I began writing, my husband said it was like watching a painter get inspired…🙂  He was happy for me. And the whole thing felt great.

In related news, I have finally managed to write the final scene for CREEPING SLOWLY & EVAPORATING. Yay! I now have a complete first draft!

Now, I just need to keep it up. And that is the plan… I also hope to keep the blog a little more up-to-date. We’ll see how that goes.

Until next time…

And it’s over before it even started…

Booted at the pitch stage once again… For me, ABNA 2013 is done. I’m out. I must admit I am a bit disappointed. I felt my pitch was good enough this time around… and maybe it was (I don’t know) as everyone keeps saying the pitch round is basically a crapshoot. And that’s fine. Really. It is. I am very happy for all of those writers who made it through. I’m glad they will continue to get a shot for publication and possibly that grand prize of $50,000.😀

Anyway, as the disappointment sunk in, part of me was saying, “Maybe I’m just not cut out for this… But what else is there for me to do? I have a degree in Art with little experience in graphic design and none in web design… What’s a girl to do?” Then the more rational part of me said, “But it’s what you love. It’s who you are. You couldn’t stop if you wanted to… Sure, you might have a dry spell every once in a while where you just can’t write a goshdarned thing… but that comes with the territory… and none of this means you should quit.” Once I’d given myself a little pep talk, I thought maybe I should get back to querying… but I’m not quite so confident in TERRA INCOGNITA at the moment (maybe that will pass, I don’t know) so (for now) I think I might actually shelf it… focus on something else before I come back to it… I’ve been working on it for so long, editing for so long, it needs a break. I need a break. I have other works-in-progress to complete… maybe one of them will be “The One.” And I’m so close to ending one of them… focus. That’s what I need to do. Focus.

Besides, I have more important things to worry about… I’ll be 25 weeks pregnant on Friday and have a lot to do. Sheesh, I’m due, like, the week before the ABNA Finalists travel to accept their prizes… that would have been an interesting trip, for sure… Traveling across country about a week (or so) after giving birth, newborn in tow.🙂  Yeah… but it would have been totally worth it.

So, to wrap it all up… Good luck to all who remain in the contest! AND good luck to all who were cut. You shouldn’t give up either… Being cut this early is absolutely no indication of your (or your book’s) worth (yeah, I know, we need to make it a mantra).

Good luck with all of your writing careers! I hope to see you on the other side.

Edit/Update/What-have-you: I just wanted to say that I’m not really discouraged when it comes to writing… I can’t give it up, it isn’t possible… My main reaction/emotion is one of exhaustion, more than anything. This has just been a very trying week…🙂  I’m already tired, in general, but have a very sick hubby this week and a 3-year old to contend with, so… ha ha. Bad timing, perhaps…?

2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award is on!

2013 ABNA! Yay! The entry period begins on January 14, 2013… Of course, this year it has undergone some interesting changes. First, Penguin is no longer involved and the winners will be published through Amazon itself (physical and ebook formats). Second, there will be more winners and, thus, more prizes. In previous years, there were two winners (publishing contracts with $15,000 advances, one in the General Fiction category and another in the Young Adult category). But this year we will have FIVE winners (yes, five!). The Grand Prize winner will receive a publishing contract with a $50,000 advance, and four First Prize winners will each receive contracts with a $15,000 advance.  Pretty exciting news!

One other major change: while before we could only choose between General Fiction and Young Adult Fiction, we now have the addition of three new categories (Romance, Mystery/Thriller, and Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror). Yay for more categories! It would seem there will be a winner chosen from each category, one of which being the Grand Prize winner… at least that seems to be the consensus of Amazon’s ABNA forum (a lot of fun writers over there – check it out sometime).

Other than that, everything seems to work pretty much the same as before… as far as I can tell. Make sure you take a look at the rules and whatnot before entering.

SO… I’ve been trying to work out which story to enter. Hm… decisions, decisions…🙂  My choices have been reenter Terra Incognita (entered twice before in GF, would have entered it again this year as YA, though I now have the option to enter it as Fantasy…) or enter my WIP Creeping Slowly & Evaporating (in YA or Fantasy). I just need to write the end of that manuscript… which is the most difficult part for me so… I believe I will reenter Terra, then focus on finishing and editing Creeping. Perhaps I can work on querying it, as the other (hopefully) makes it’s way up the ranks of ABNA…😉

Now YA or fantasy? I hope I make the right decision.

Wow… Where Did I Go?

Oh! Here I am!🙂  Yeah…  I kinda disappeared from the whole world for a while there…  I found out in late September that I’m expecting baby #2 and just dropped off the face of the planet after that… we’ll blame hormones… Ugh… Anyway… I promise I will do my utmost best to update more often from now on… at least until the end of May…😀

So… what I’ve been up to since you last heard from me… really not much… I know, I know. Bad writer! Not writing and whatnot…  I did decide to use NaNoWriMo for motivation to finish up my NaNo 2011 story. So I was a rebel – Oh no! And I really did a great job the first week or so… then, much as I did in late September, I just stopped. I’ll keep my excuses to myself… I am very close to finishing the story. It’s just that… the end is always the most difficult part for me to write… I still can’t figure it out. I am really hoping to have it finished and somewhat edited in time for ABNA this coming year… At least that way I can choose between two stories instead of only having one option for entry.

We’ll see, I suppose…

Anyway… I hope everyone’s Autumn has been going well!  Happy Holidays and all that jazz!

Oh, Wow… My First Blog Award!

A sincere thank you to Rhiann Wynn-Nolet at A Nest of Words for presenting me with the Leibster Blog Award!  That’s so awesome!

-Answer the presenter’s 11 questions
-Choose 11 lucky recipients (who have fewer than 200 followers)
-Formulate 11 questions for them to answer
-Plaster the award on your blog

Now, please bear with me… I’m not very good at any of this… answering questions, choosing people to do the same (especially), or creating my own questions…

Here are Rhiann’s questions to me: 

1. If you were to choose a Nom de Plume, what would it be?  I already have! While my real name is Heather, Riffle is my maiden name…😉

2. What is your favorite flower?  Oh, tough one… Um, I would have to say the day lily – it’s the flower that keeps on giving!

3. If you had to live prior to 1900, what century would you choose, and why?  Hm, another tough one… I think the 18th century… the Age of Enlightenment… We could definitely use another one of those right about now…🙂

4. What is your motto?  Do I even have a motto? …Okay. Never judge, because you never know the circumstances that lead to a person’s actions… at least wait until you’ve heard all the facts…  I know, I know – easier said than done… even for me sometimes.🙂

5. Lake or ocean, and why?  Ocean… there’s nothing that compares to the sound of the waves crashing against sand and rock, the salty-fresh air, the wind blowing in your hair, and the look of a storm brewing on the horizon…

6. Tell us three things about a favorite character you’ve created.   I have a few… so I’ll go with someone only I have “met.”  Trudy hates when people call her Gertrude.  She inherited three things from her grandfather: a set of skeleton keys, a 200-year old book, and an old candle. She is determined to do the right thing, no matter what.

7. You’re in a car and this song comes on the radio – you can’t change the station fast enough.  When it comes to music, my tastes are pretty (very) eclectic… so I’m really not sure about this… can’t think of anything specific right now, but some rap and some pop songs make me change the station… but not always immediately.

8. Which author influences you most as a writer, and in what way?  Currently, I’m not sure… but I have been influenced by many. One past writer by whom I have felt influenced is Louisa May Alcott. I don’t write anything like her (genre or style) but felt she was an inspiring influence because of her determination and passion.  Most of the time, I feel I’m more inspired by the writer indirectly through the characters they create.  Jo March, for instance, Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables), etc. Oh! And, completely at the other end of the spectrum (if he’s even on this spectrum at all) Edgar Allan Poe… I loved his writing almost my entire life.  This is such a difficult question for me to answer… sorry if it’s all over the place and/or seems contrived… or something.  Eh.

9. When you get writer’s block, doing this helps. (If you never get writer’s block I’m blowing raspberries at you).  Sometimes, just pushing through helps, but music helps a lot too… I’ll listen to it in the shower and, sometimes, that block just disintegrates, like it’s being washed down the drain.

10. What movie scared you (and maybe scarred you)?  This might sound ridiculous, but I watched A Watership Down (just because it’s animated, people, doesn’t mean it’s for kids!) when I was VERY young… it scared me to death, gave me nightmares… all those rabbits (particularly once battered and dying) and blood and death and running.  I finally made myself watch it again as an adult… but still shudder when I think of my original viewing.

11. What’s your favorite Halloween candy?  Oh, man, I love Halloween (and lots of different kinds of candy) and don’t know if I can choose just one… Hm… I just like getting the mini versions of all the regular candy, like Baby Ruth, Snickers, and Nerds… to name a few.

Here are the next Lucky Eleven (well, Six, in my case…):

1. Diana

2. Virginia – though I’m not sure how many followers she has…

3. Kristen & Julie

4. Liz

5. Mary

6. Shiela

– P.S. You are all welcome to ignore this, if you wish… I’m just trying to do my part.😉

And here are my 11 Questions:

1. Does music ever inspire your writing?

2. What is your favorite season?

3. What is your favorite holiday?

4. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?  And why?

5. Cats or dogs? Why?

6. Favorite color?  What do you think it says about your personality?

7. Favorite movie? Why?

8. If you could have a superpower, what would it be? Why?

9. If you could time-travel, would you? Where/When would you go? And for what reason?

10. Favorite food?

11. Who/what is your favorite character (movie, book, TV) of all time?

Tag! I’m it (GUTGAA style)!

Hello all!😀 I have officially been tagged by my new friend Rhiann! And I now have some questions to answer…

What is the working title of your book?

Where did the idea come from for the book?
A dream… a lot of my ideas come to me that way. I dreamed of being in a building (like an old school) with a group of people, and we were being chased/hunted by someone/thing. Somehow, we made it to a safe place where she could see us but not get to us… and she touched a large, rusty piece of chain, bringing it to life as a snake… it slithered over to me. Everyone else was scared, no one came to my aid… but I reached out to touch it (I don’t know why – it was a dream!) and it turned back to its true form. Everyone was amazed and the one who originally turned it ran away. And that was the start of TERRA INCOGNITA.

What genre does your book fall under?
This took me a while to figure out…🙂 But I have settled on YA post-apocalyptic paranormal with romantic elements… a mouthful, I know.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
That’s a tough one… but something I have considered, I’ll admit, because I like to work with images. I’m a very visual person and like to see my characters. Based a lot on looks (ages might be an issue) I would choose either Chloe Moretz or Rachel Hurd-Wood to play Haylee and (this one is tough for me) maybe someone like Taylor Kitsch (a little younger probably) to play Derik.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
When Haylee wakes to a post-apocalyptic future, she discovers the Pale Ones – creatures that can kill with a single touch – have propelled her through time to claim a power she didn’t know she had.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Agent, please?! Pretty, pretty please….?

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Well… I started writing it in the summer of 2005 but stopped for a while. I pulled it back out in 2009, wrote during college classes (yes, I know, for shame… but I couldn’t stop!) and finished it in time to submit it to Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award Contest in early 2011… needless to say, that didn’t pan out… it was a first draft after all. So, there were a lot of starts and stops by that point… Unfortunately, that’s how I wrote up until recently… now I have several unfinished stories and, when I feel I’m burnt out on one, I can move to another.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Other than my uber-cool Pale Ones (the basis of all supernatural creature legends, especially the vampire)? Well, because these creatures reign in the future, humans have developed some incredible abilities (almost everybody has a superpower) in order to survive. Haylee arrives there going from average teenager to feeling less than inadequate amongst all that power… But the Pale Ones want her for a reason, right….?

And Tag! You’re It!

All right… now it’s my turn to tag someone!

I have chosen some of my new GUTGAA friends:

All right, girls! Have fun and happy tagging!