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Reaping Me Softly Tour Day 3 and Superstitions about Photographs

My favorite day is here!

I want to take a moment to send positive thoughts to the kids unable to trick or treat today because Sandy came to town. *hugs and love* I hope everyone if okay and safe. 

Ollie and I would like to greet everyone a Happy Halloween!

Today is day 3 of the Reaping Me Softly tour.


Here are all the stops today:

Charming Chelsey’s ~ Review
Rinn Reads ~ Promotional Post
Raizza’s Book Blogging Adventure ~ Promotional Post
Scribbler’s Sojourn ~ Promotional Post
A Tale of Many Reviews ~ Promotional Post

Ollie
After reading today's superstitions, please visit the blogs participating in the Reaping Me Softly tour.

The art of photography may be a relatively new phenomenon, but it had none the less inspired certain superstitious beliefs that are now well entrenched. Perhaps the most familiar is the belief among many people in technologically undeveloped parts of the world that it is extremely bad luck to allow someone to take their photograph (a taboo that previously applied to hand-drawn portraits also). The reasoning is that the image of a person contains something of their life-force, so anyone who obtains a photographic likeness also acquires a degree of influence over their soul.

Other superstitions include the more or less redundant notion that engage couples should decline to have their photograph taken together, as this threatens their chances of eventually being married. It has also been suggested that it is reckless to be photographed with an animal, which may be a witch in disguise. Neither should people be grouped in threes for a photograph, as the middle one is thereby placed under sentence of death. Sports players, furthermore, have been known to refuse to have their team photograph taken until after the match in the belief that otherwise they will prejudice their luck on the field.

Source
 In the Netherlands, motorists fix photographs of their lovers on the dashboard of their cars to protect them from accidents. Many people who otherwise see no magic in the science of photography will baulk at the prospect of destroying a photograph of someone who is still alive.

To deliver a curse against someone, the simplest procedure is to turn a photograph of them to the wall or turn it upside down (or, even better, to do both).

Check your pictures in the house, maybe someone has put a curse on you. *giggles*

Make your Halloween even more spooktacular by grabbing your copy of Reaping Me Softly:


Amazon
B&N
Omnific Publishing


Reaping Me Softly Tour: Day 2

The reviews are coming in! Eleven in all today. Check out each of the stops for day two of the tour.


Here are all the stops for the day:

Tuesday, Oct. 30:

A Diary Of A Book Addict ~ Review
The Tales Compendium ~ Review
Breathe In BooKs ~ Review
Books Live Forever ~ Review
Mostly YA Book Obsessed ~ Review
Emily’s Crammed Bookshelf ~ Promotional Post
Ever and Ever Sight ~ Review
Some Like It Paranormal ~ Review
Obsession with Books ~ Review
The Reclusive Reader ~ Review
Book Briefs ~ Review
Books 4 Julie ~ Review

You can grab your copy of Reaping Me Softly now:

Amazon
B&N
Omnific Publishing

Reaping Me Softly Tour: Day 1

The Reaping Me Softly officially kicks off today! There are five reviews and a promotional post to check out. Please take a moment to visit the blogs participating today.


Here are all the stops for today:

Amaterasu Reads ~ Review
A Dream Within A Dream ~ Review
The Readers Den ~ Review
Reader Girls ~ Review
Paranormal Opinion ~ Review
Lift You Up ~ Promotional Post

And while the tour is on going, I'm sending out positive thoughts and prayers of safety to those currently experiencing the brunt of Sandy. Wherever you are with the winds howling outside, please stay safe. *hugs*

Superstitions about Scissors

Ollie
I have some great news coming everyone's way soon. I wanted to start the post with that tease. *giggles*

Okay, Ollie's frowning at me now, he wants me to start the post.

We have an interesting one today suggested by Shelly. After you read this post, visit her at The Life of a Novice Writer. It's an awesome blog.

Gather around, folks! Let's play the Superstition Game with scissors.

Being made of metal and having the power to cut, scissors are regarded as potent objects in superstition. They must be handled with care as their misuse risk one’s luck, which can be ‘cut’ all too easily. It is therefore very unfortunate to drop a pair of scissors, and even worse, if they then stick into the floor because this constitutes a death omen (though regional variations suggest an imminent wedding if both points stick in the floor and a funeral only if one point pierces the floor). Neither should the person who dropped the pair of scissors attempt to retrieve them. He or she should ask a friend to pick them up, or, failing this, the scissors should be trodden on before being touched. To be on the safe side, the scissors should then be warmed between the hands before being used again. Scissors that come apart while held in the hands are also a portent of bad luck in store.
Source

As is the case with knives and other sharp objects, scissors should never be given as presents unless the recipient hands over a coin or two in exchange as though buying them in the usual way; failure to do so may lead to the friendship between the two parties being severed. Scissors may, however, act as a deterrent against witches and in former times they were sometimes placed under the doormat to prevent any malevolent spirit coming into the house (usually in the opened position so that the blades formed a cross).

A curious superstition of African origin claims that scissors should not be opened and closed during the celebration of a wedding, as this will result in the groom becoming impotent.

Now you know what you need to do when you drop a pair of scissors. Be careful!

And while you're waiting for the release of Reaping Me Softly, make Taste you're weekend read:



Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Kobo
The Book Depository

Superstitions about Milk

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With all the excitement about the upcoming release of my latest YA novel, Reaping Me Softly, Ollie and I completely forgot to post yesterday's Superstition Game. Our apologies! 

Our superstitions today come from a suggestion made by Alyssa Susanna. She suggested cheese. I couldn't find any superstitions about cheese, but it did get me thinking. Cheese is a dairy product and where does it usually come from? Milk. So, I decided on superstitions about milk.

Stay tuned because at the end of the post are links to giveaways you can join this Halloween. *smiles*

Now, here's what you need to know about milk:

Perhaps the most familiar European tradition concerning milk is that spilling it will bring seven days of ill fortune. The reasoning behind this is that the fairies and other mischievous sprites will be attracted to any household where they can find milk on the floor. An elaboration of this superstition, dating from the days when milk was boiled over open fires, advise that it is most unlucky for milk to boil over so that some of it falls on to the coals. The cow that gave the milk will consequently produce a much smaller yield and may even sicken and die unless some salt is immediately scattered over the flames. Similar results will ensue if anyone inadvertently puts their foot in a bucket of milk.

Milk should never be given away or sold on Mayday, but a little of it may be poured over the doorstep to preserve the luck of the house. When a cow gives milk for the first time a little of it may be kept aside in a bronze basin to ensure the animal’s continued productiveness; three drops from each udder may be passed through a ring when a cow is milked for the first time after calving in order to ward off infection and to cleanse the milk itself. If the cow should later be sold, a few hairs may be taken from its tail in the belief that this will guarantee it proves a good milker under its new owner. Indian superstition, meanwhile, claims that it is lucky to see some milk immediately on waking.

The dangers posed by witches, who may try to gain power over a cow by casting spells over its milk, may be averted by adding a small amount of salt to any milk sold, while rubbing a cow’s udders with ‘passion grass’ will prevent the animal being milked by any witch disguised as a snake or other creature. More difficult to guard against is the witch’s trick of placing a pail in the fireplace and ‘milking’ the pot hook, thus magically stealing a neighbor’s milk.

To cure whopping cough, the sufferer should drink milk from a dish from which a fox has lapped, or else be offered some mare’s milk to drink. Other minor medical ailments may prove susceptible to applications of milk from human mothers, as this is also said to have special healing powers. 

Ollie
Did you know that about milk? I sure didn't until I started putting this post together. 

Here are the links to the giveaways. Winning is only a click away:


And as an added bonus, you can now Pre-order your copy of Reaping Me Softly here:



Reaping Me Softly Giveaway

Join the Reaping Me Softly giveaway on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/36195-reaping-me-softly

Reaping Me Softly Pre-Order

You can now pre-order Reaping Me Softly today!

 
Ever since a near-death-experience on the operating table, seventeen-year-old Arianne Wilson can see dead people. Just as she’s learned to accept her new-found talents, she discovers that the boy she’s had a crush on since freshman year, Niko Clark, is a Reaper.

At last they have something in common, but that doesn’t mean life is getting any easier. All while facing merciless bullying from the most powerful girl in school, Arianne’s world is turned upside down after Niko accidentally reaps the soul of someone she loves. This sends them both into a spiral that threatens to end Arianne’s life. But will Niko break his own Reaper’s code to save her? And what would the consequences be if he did?

Pre-order here:
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Superstitions about Birds

It's day 3 of the Superstition Game! Wow, these are going up fast and furious. Ollie can't imagine how fast time is flying by. I can't imagine it myself and I'm not an inanimate object. *laughs*

Today, we have superstitions about birds in general. This superstition suggestion is brought to you by Susan Roebuck. Please click on her name to visit her website after reading this post.

Here's what you need to know about birds:


The apparently miraculous power of flight enjoyed by birds has inspired innumerable superstitions over the centuries. The fact that birds seemed literally to inhabit the Heavens prompted many primitive religions to cast their gods in the form of birds of various kinds, and many species have retained particular significance in folklore to this day. Soothsayers in ancient Rome learned to predict the future through their analysis of birdsong, while other cultures credited birds with having their own language and links with the supernatural, the birds themselves often being interpreted as the reincarnation of dead souls.

The appearance of certain birds (particularly those with black and white feathers) may be regarded as an omen of death or some other coming misfortune, while others are closely associated with witchcraft and the devil. Some birds of apparently supernatural origin, moreover, appear to have attached themselves to particular families or offices in much the same way as the banshee, appearing when a family member is dying. A famous example is the pair of white birds that appear when a Bishop of Salisbury is dying, supposedly seen as recently as 1911.

Among the best-known superstitions relating to virtually all species is the widely held belief that a bird flying into a room through an open window and then out again is a sure sign of the approaching death of someone in the household, as is the sight of birds flying around a particular house or a bird tapping against the windowpane or coming down the chimney. Apart from domestic poultry, many people refuse to allow a bird, cared or not, or its eggs, into their homes, and it is thought unlucky even to have bird-patterned wallpaper or crockery and other items with pictures of birds on them. Dark-colored birds that fly around trees without ever seeming to settle are said to be the souls of reincarnated evil-doers, though another popular superstition (from France) maintains that when unbaptised children die, they become birds for a time until accepted into Heaven.

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 Anyone hit by bird droppings can expect ill luck in the near future (though some people claim it is actually lucky), while a person starting on a journey is recommended on setting off to note the position of any birds flying nearby: if they fly to the right, a good trip is foretold, but if they fly to the left, the traveler would do well to stay at home, particularly if the birds are to many to count. Similarly, in a relic of the ‘ornithomancy’ of the ancient Romans, much can be gleaned from the direction out of which a bird call comes: if it is from the north, ill luck will ensue; if from the south, a good harvest; if from the west, good luck; and if from the east, love.

The death of a caged bird on the morning of a wedding indicates that the marriage will not prosper, and pet birds must be kept informed of important family events or they will languish and die. It is also unlucky to come across a dead bird outside the home and, in Scotland at least, children will spit on the corpse to ensure, they claim, that they are not given it for their supper. Lastly, parents are warned against feeding too many eggs to their children, which allegedly risks them growing up sexually confused.    

Well, that was an interesting end note to the post. What do you think of the superstitions about birds? If you want more, Ollie and I have explored the superstitions associated with Ravens in this post. Check it out and get back to us. 

Until tomorrow! Make sure to spit on those bird corpses!

Don't forget to join my October Giveaway!

Superstitions about Glass and Glasses

Ollie
Ollie and I welcome you to Day 2 of our Superstition Game. Come, sit, take a load off, and learn something new.

Today's suggestion comes from Gellie at Kaleidoscope World.

Actually, she suggested glasses, but since the post would be too short, I decided to infuse it with superstitions about glass since glasses are made of glass. Okay, how many times can I mention the word glass in a sentence? *laughs*

Here's what you need to know:


A widespread superstition of long standing suggests that some people harbor considerable prejudice against those who wear glasses, fearing that they bring bad luck. In years gone by, it was customary for those who mistrusted people in glasses to spit as they passed in order to protect their fortune.

The superstitious have always been fascinated by the curious properties of glass and the material has come to be associated with a wide range of offbeat notions. It is traditionally held in Britain to be unlucky to look at someone through a pane of broken glass, since this means that a quarrel will shortly break out. To this day, many people also advise against looking at a new moon through glass, as this will bring on extreme bad luck. Glass balls, ideally made in the light of a full moon, have, however, been used for the purposes of divination for many centuries. Smaller versions were once worn about the person to prevent nightmares, cure illnesses in livestock, and otherwise provide protection against harm.

Drinking glasses should never be handed to newly arrived guests but should instead be set down so that the visitors can pick them up. In Russia, guests are often expected to break their glasses by throwing them over their shoulder—a gesture meant to appease the gods. One ruse known in several folklore traditions is to take a surreptitious sip from someone else’s glass in the belief that it will enable one to read the other person’s thoughts. Drinking from a glass at four opposite ‘corners,’ that is in the shape of a cross, is recommended as a means of curing oneself of illness. If a glass breaks, someone in the household is near to death. Similarly, a drinking glass that emits a high-pitched ringing sound for no apparent reason is recognized by many as a death omen and is particularly feared by sailors, who will attempt to stifle the noise at once. Anyone who is worried that someone is trying to poison them should always drink out of Venetian glassware, incidentally, as this will shatter the moment anyone puts poison in it.
Source

Should a glass vase be accidentally broken, this is, surprisingly, a good omen, promising seven years of good fortune—in marked contrast to the seven years of bad luck that will befall someone who breaks a mirror.

What are your thoughts about today's superstitions? Did you know any of them prior to reading this post? Let Ollie and I know by leaving a comment.

Afterwards, visit Gellie at Kaleidoscope World. Give her a spooktacular hello from Ollie and me. 

Okay, until tomorrow! Those wearing glasses, watch out for anyone who spits at you.

Don't forget to join my October Giveaway!

Superstitions about Ladders

Ollie
As it is about a week until my favorite holiday of the year, I thought it best to begin. Folks, Ollie and I would like to welcome you to this year's Superstition Game! Everyday until Halloween, my posts will be about different superstitions. The suggestions have been provided by other readers. You will meet them with each post.

Today, Ollie and I bring you superstitions about ladders, which was suggested by Amy at Read to my Heart's Content.

Let's begin:


The taboo against walking under ladders is one of the most widely known and frequently observed of all surviving superstitions, encountered in many Christian and non-Christian countries even today. Many people who reject some of the more archaic superstitions will still cross the road or choose another route if a ladder propped against a wall blocks their path (though they may protest that they are simply nervous of something being dropped on them).

Source
The reasoning behind the superstition, which is probably obscure to the majority of people who nonetheless observe it is that a ladder leaned against a wall completes a triangle with the wall and the ground. The triangle is said to be the sign of the Holy Trinity, so anyone who walks straight through it is showing disrespect for God and possibly sympathy with the devil. Alternately, a ladder offers a means of ascent to Heaven for the recently departed, in which case great care must be taken not to obstruct or offend any spirits mounting it. The usual punishment for such recklessness is said to be a bout of misfortune, though more specifically in the case of unmarried persons, it may entail postponement of marriage hopes for another year.

In the Netherlands and formerly in parts of the British Isles, retribution went further and the person concerned was fated to be hanged—a conclusion that probably dates from times when, if a proper scaffold was not available, condemned felons were often executed on impromptu gallows comprising a ladder leaned against a tree.

In cases where there is no alternative to walking under a ladder, superstition does, however, offer a safeguard, advising that crossing the fingers and keeping them crossed until a dog is sighted will afford the transgressor some protection. Similarly, spitting on one’s shoe and allowing the spittle to dry may negate any ill effects.

One Scottish superstition suggests that if there is no alternative to walking under a ladder, breaking the taboo may have a beneficial effect: anyone who makes a wish as they pass underneath may well have it granted.

Source
 Those who work on ladders are not immune to their dangers. In the USA, it is said that anyone who climbs a ladder under which a black cat had just walked will experience bad luck, while in many European countries, it is unlucky to pass anything through the rungs of a ladder—as it also is at sea. If the ladder has an odd number of rungs, it may actually bring the climber good luck, but if he or she should slip on a rung, this is an omen of a financial setback. Even if the ladder is resting on the ground, bad luck is risked if any person treads between the rungs.

In many non-Christian countries, the taboo against walking under ladders is simply one aspect of a wider superstition that applies to walking under a variety of objects. The idea behind this is that it is inadvisable to allow anything to be placed over one’s head, as the head is the seat of the spirit and should never be overshadowed. In Japan, for instance, it is thought that anyone who walks under a telegraph wire will be possessed by devils.   

There you have it, all the superstitions about ladders. Share your thoughts by living a comment on this post. When you're done, visit Amy at Read to my Heart's Content. Give she a hello for me. 

And if you would like to join the Superstition Game, click here.

Don't forget to join my October Giveaway!

Until tomorrow. Watch out for ladders!

Beauty and the Beast: A question

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What if the TV 80s version of Beauty and the Beast starring Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman was made today?

Let's say the 80s Beauty and the Beast was never made. Let's say Catherine's and Vincent's story was imagined without the horrendous shoulder pads and platonic relationship.

You say, "Haven't you heard of the CW reboot with the same creator as the 80s version?"

My answer: "Of course, I have, but besides Catherine's awesome car, I abandoned the series after the first episode in favor of the 80s version I used to watch as a child."

I'm currently in the midst of a marathon. I just finished the first season and am now gearing up for the second. I have fond memories of Vincent as a child and I wanted to see if his and Catherine's story would have a different impact on me as an adult.

After watching the first season, my mind started thinking of answers to the question I posed above. If the 80s TV version was made today:

1. Catherine and Vincent would kiss by episode ten, give or take an episode or two.

When I was a child, I could have sworn Vincent ad Catherine shared a kiss somewhere in the series. The "shadow kiss" in the final episode of season one doesn't count because it's clearly imagined. I began wondering: Was the 80s audience not ready for a kiss between a human and someone clearly not? I don't think so, yet Catherine and Vincent never lock lips even when the situation begged for it. No hot blooded woman would be content with the occasional hug and intense hand holding. Even the most chaste romances have at least one kiss.

2. Catherine's character would be developed more.

I think this is the reason why Linda Hamilton left the series. If your character doesn't grow, what else is there? Catherine's character would have more potential in terms of development during this day and age. Backbone, for one. And she would have fought for her relationship with Vincent. Would have fought hard for it.

3. Vincent's character would be more balanced.

In the 80s version, Vincent is cultured, and I have nothing against this. I actually love him for it. But his animal side only comes out when he comes to Catherine's rescue. I never shy away from a dazzling hunk willing to rescue me, but I would want him to have passion as well. You know, the "grrr" factor, or as Carrie calls it the "throw down." 2012 Vincent would be cultured and still share heart attack inducing kisses with Catherine.

4. Vincent's genetic mutation would be explored more.

I believe this is what the CW version is doing, but I don't like the approach. If Catherine is the assistant DA, then there will come a time in the story where she goes up against a company involved in illegal testing of some sort. In season one of the 80s version, it was hinted that Father used to be a doctor conducting research involving the effects of radiation. This would be a perfect story line to explore in terms of Vincent's origin.

5. The underground community would stay.

This I wouldn't change a bit. In fact, I would enhance it more. I would explore the community and really show it as a thriving city underneath New York. The 80s version just didn't have much of that and with the technology of today and the creativity of the writers, I think the 2012 underground community would be an awesome place.

6. The story arcs would be longer.

80s Beauty and the Beast was stingy with its story arcs. If new characters were introduced, usually they only existed in the episode they were in. For example: Father's biological son. He came and went like he never existed at all. In my imagined 2012 version, the biological son arc would have at least three episodes, maybe even five to explore what it means in terms of Vincent's relationship with Father and how this affects Catherine. A simple love triangle can even ensue.

7. The tension would be more pronounced.

In the 80s version, Vincent's and Catherine's relationship didn't make any sense. There were episodes where you can clearly see Vincent jealous of Catherine dating other guys, but it was never fully developed in terms of adding tension to their relationship. If Catherine's character is to grow to a point where she cannot imagine loving anyone else but Vincent, then the 2012 imagined version would have more tension, really flesh out the way they feel about each other.

8. I would bring in a female version of Vincent.

Vincent thinks he's the only one. What if he finds out there's a female version of him? That would present a new challenge between him and Catherine. They would need to reevaluate their relationship. Vincent, in search for answers, will explore what this "lioness" has to offer, while Catherine contemplates letting him go because he has a chance for a life with someone like him. The story is ripe with possibilities.

9. I wouldn't be afraid of exploring a younger version of the story.

What if Catherine and Vincent were in their teens? Would it work? If handled properly, I really think so. I'm not discounting the adult version. But I believe there's a YA story line worth exploring too. I think in the end, the success of the show would be up to the writers. Think The Vampire Diaries and Gossip Girl (the early days).

10. Besides the darker aspects of the story, humor can be injected.

There are moments in the 80s version where Vincent and Catherine find themselves in humorous situations. Again, if handled well, there is so much room for a laugh or two without deliberately crossing into comedy territory. This is still a drama after all.

In the end, I can go on and on about how much better the 80s version would be if it were explored today. I'm not talking about the procedural story line. I think it's crap. I'm saying, keep the romance. In fact, amp it up. Make it hot without crossing the lines of impropriety. Imagine combining Ron Perlman's character from Sons of Anarchy with Vincent. Remove the tendencies toward illegal acts, of course. Vincent is a character with so much potential. Combine cultured with "grr" slash "throw down" and you have yourself a winner. I think viewers would find his lion facial features hot too. They did in the 80s, so why not more so today when the multitude are begging for that supernatural experience. And Catherine, she wouldn't be such a waste of a character where you would have to kill her off in the third season. She'd be tougher, more independent, and knows what she wants. She'd bring out the animal said to Vincent's cultured humanity. In summery, the shortcomings of the 80s version wouldn't be in my imagined 2012 version.

I can dream, can't I?

Part 3: Coming Down from the High

Here's the final part of my workshop:


A miracle has happened. The thirty days are over. And you have a brand new spankin’ novel. Like many achievements, it takes a while to sink in. You’re not quite sure how you did it. You’re sitting in front of your computer starting at the final chapter that you just clicked “save” on. You’ve checked your folder and all thirty chapters are there. What do you do now?

First: Set your novel aside for awhile.

I know you have the momentum going. You think it’ll be okay to start editing right away.

Not necessarily.

Remember: You have been in writing mode for thirty days.

You need to take the time to decompress. It’s like rising from the depths of the sea after scuba diving. If you don’t do it right, there are consequences. This is the same with editing the novel right after you’ve finished writing it. At this point, you’re too close to the story to get any sort of perspective. You won’t be able to see the forest for the trees.

Take a step back. Let yourself breathe.

“What do I do now?” You might ask.

If you’ve stopped reading during the time you were writing, this is a great time to start up again. Catch up with other things you might have missed while writing. This is the break you’ve been waiting for. Like I said, writing a novel in 30 days is an intense process. Now is the time you relax and take a break. Or, if you have another novel you’ve set aside that you haven’t edited for a while, now is a good time to work on that.

Then you might say, “But you just said I shouldn’t start editing.”

Don’t edit the new one yet. It’s like taking a cake out of the oven. You need to let it sit for a while before you cut into it. Working on something else will actually help you slowly get into editing mode.

“Should I write a new story?”

I would advise against that because you can easily burn yourself out that way. This is why many artists from generations ago died at an early age. They got obsessed with the process. Writing a novel in thirty days isn’t something I recommend for someone to do month after month. Give yourself breaks in between so your brain doesn’t explode on you.

“How long should I stay away from my new novel?”

Give it a week at least. More would be better. You’ll see, when you reread it with fresh eyes, you’ll know what needs changing and where to start editing. This is because you are now a more experienced writer than you were before you started.

Example: My novel Til Death, which is contracted with Entangled. I have not touched that story for a year. The person I was when I wrote it hadn’t gone through the editor experience. Now, when I reread the story for the editing process with Entangled, I have a better idea of what to do. I see the plot holes better. I can see when transition is needed and where there is a lack of motivation. All because I have taken the time to set the story aside and grow as a writer in the meantime.

Second: What if you haven’t finished your novel after thirty days?

This can definitely happen.

Example: My companion novel to Taste called Savor. The thirty day mark rolled around and I knew I was still a few chapters shy of the ending. There’s nothing wrong with continuing so long as you maintain the chapter a day routine.

Now, what happens if you’re not seeing an end in sight?

This is where stepping away from the story will help. Take a day to think about what you’ve written so far. Evaluate what’s happened to your characters in the last thirty chapters. Without rereading the chapters, of course.

Example: My YA paranormal romance about werewolves.

My characters have fallen in love. What happens next? I know in my gut something has to happen to break the two of them up. What is this event? Once I’ve thought about that event, I can begin to put chapters together that will ensure they get back together. My characters getting back together after jumping the hurdle (which can be the climax to your story) is actually how my novel ends.

Remember: Recall the genre and category of your novel.

Based from your reading experience, think about novels similar in genre to yours. How did these novels end? Having this as a baseline will help you find a suitable ending to your novel.

Remember: Your aim is to achieve your goal of completing a novel in 30 days.

Everything boils down to editing. I believe this is where the real work happens during the writing process. This is where you take what you already have and making it better. If you don’t have anything to work with, then you won’t have anything to make better. This is the real purpose to writing a novel in 30 days. It’s to complete the story. Once that is done, you start working on fixing it.

Third: Reward Yourself

I’ve said this enough times: writing a novel in 30 days is intense. Like someone who has lost a significant amount of weight and rewards his or her self with a new wardrobe, reward yourself for the achievement.

You just wrote a novel. Not everyone can do what you’ve just done. Give your kids a hug, your hubby a kiss, and maybe treat yourself to a manicure/pedicure or a guilty pleasure you’ve been holding off on.

I personally buy myself a dress or a pair of shoes. Sometimes, just grabbing a burger from my favorite place in town is more than enough of a reward for a job well done.

Also, rewarding yourself doesn’t have to be at the end of the month only. You can even give yourself mini rewards on a daily basis for finishing a chapter. Or, if every day is too much, give yourself a mini reward at the end of each week. You’re doing this to give yourself a sense of well-being  Not only do you get to see your story on paper, you have given yourself more than just pat on the back for your hard work.

The concept of reward is a special thing, and should be used more often.

Alright, it’s that time again. Leave your questions in the comment’s section and I will answer them as soon as possible. :)    

Part 2b: The Discipline of Writing

Here's the second part of part two:


Fourth: Find time for what you love.

I get that we all live busy lives. Here are some of the most common excuses that keep us from writing a chapter a day:

  1. Day job (or two or three)
  2. Taking care of the family
  3. Just so tired
  4. What’s the point?

Exception: Notice that I’ve left out emergencies of any kind. If someone died, the last thing you should be thinking about is writing. If someone is at the hospital, while you’re waiting and to keep from worrying, maybe you can scribble down a few scenes?   

Let me go back to my weight loss analogy. People who try to lose weight surprisingly have the same excuses as writers do that keep them from getting up and hitting the gym or eating healthy.

My question is: Do you really love writing?

If it’s just a hobby, then maybe writing a chapter a day for 30 days isn’t for you. But, if your day isn’t complete without hitting the keyboard, then you can find time to write. Whether it is waking up an hour earlier or jotting down notes while on the bus or train or begging your loved ones to leave you alone for just a few minutes, you’ll find the time.

Remember when you were a teen and you managed to juggle school, homework, your local bully, and still find time to do whatever it was you were into? Well, writing a chapter a day is like that.

This is where reminding yourself of your commitment comes in. No matter what I say in this workshop, if you’re not committed to the process, you’ll just find yourself frustrated or maybe even disappointed at the end of the month. This is where the person losing weight stops exercising and realizes they’ve gained more weight than they have lost. As in anything in life, if you’re not willing to put in the time, nothing will happen.

Fifth: No matter what, keep going.

Let’s say you’re about halfway through the month, you already have fifteen chapters under your belt and you’re feeling good about yourself. But when you sit down to start writing chapter 16, it’s not working. You’re not feeling the same momentum as you did with the other chapters. The story isn’t flowing properly.

If you don’t feel this at any point in the process then very good, but if you do, you’ll need to start the chapter over again. You’ll know by the third or fourth page if and when a scene is not working. As painful as it is, hit the delete button and walk away from your computer. This is a sign you need a quick break.

Quick tip: Walk for a bit. Maybe take a shower. I do all my good thinking in the shower. Then start over.

Remember: Writing isn’t easy.

There will always be roadblocks in your story. And these can be a good thing because they will force you to take different path, maybe one that isn’t on your outline.

I find that when I think I know where the chapter is going on a certain day, by the time I’m done writing, my characters have surprised me. This is an awesome feeling because the story went somewhere I didn’t expect it to go.

You might ask me: What about character development and motivation?

Once you’ve written enough novels, character development and motivation will come naturally because your brain is already hardwired to remember these two things. I mentioned them because I struggle with character development and motivation the most. Keep in mind these can be fixed during the editing process. They are not something you need to worry about during your daily chapter routine.

Routine is an important word here because at some point, usually by the 21st day, you’ll find that you have developed a routine you can stick with. Don’t even stop for weekends. Just keep going. You’ll be surprised at how fast a month goes by.

Sixth: Try not to read anything while you’re writing.

This is probably one of the hardest things to suggest because all writers are readers. When I was first developing the method of writing a chapter a day, I realized that if I wasn’t reading I was able to focus more on my writing. The reason for this is reading brings in outside influences into your writing.

Example: I was reading The Hunger Games right around the time I was editing Taste. The Hunger Games is written in the first person present tense while Taste is in the first person past tense. I was so into The Hunger Games that I started noticing the tenses in Taste were changing from past to present. Talk about outside influences.

You’ll be busy enough with everything else in your life. Closing a book while you’re writing is just more time you’re giving yourself inside your writing cave.

Okay, I hear the uproar. I know you can’t possibly stop reading while writing. But give it a try. One month of no reading while you write your story and see the difference.

Let’s recap, shall we:

  1. Write a chapter a day.
à Start at the beginning of the month
à Build the routine
à Gain the momentum

  1. Let the story flow.
à Don’t reread chapters you’ve already written
à Keep thinking of what happens next

  1. Don’t worry about editing.
à There will be more than enough time to edit and rewrite your scenes
à Your aim is to get the story onto paper so you have something to work with later

  1. Find time for what you love.
à Whether it’s a couple of hours a day or squeezing writing time in no matter where you are, get the chapter done
à Don’t let excuses keep you from doing what you love
à Writing isn’t just a hobby for you

  1. No matter what, keep going.
à Don’t be afraid to start a chapter again if it’s not feeling right
à You can do it
à Worry about character development and motivation later

  1. Try not to read during the whole month you’re writing.
à It really does make a huge difference

And the last, most important thing? Don’t over think things.

Alright, it’s questions time. Leave them in the comment’s section and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. :)      

Part 2a: The Discipline of Writing

Hey there! Here's the first part of part two of my Novel in 30 Days workshop:


Have you ever seen those segments on daytime television where they feature someone who’s lost an amazing amount of weight? Most of these stories come from months of hard work and commitment. True weight loss isn’t an overnight thing. It’s a commitment you make and this commitment takes a certain amount of discipline. This is the analogy I will be using for the rest of this part of the workshop.

Writing is no easy task. The veterans (insert name of your favorite author here) make it seem like the process is easy, but I’m sure they are plagued by the same insecurities you and I struggle with on a daily basis. They may bounce back quicker, or they have years of experience, but that doesn’t mean they are any different from all of us. Perfect example? J.K. Rowling. But I’m not getting into the nitty gritty of what happened to her here. I’m just sighting an example.

To write a novel in 30 days takes a certain amount of discipline. It will push you towards places you thought you never thought possible. It forces you to set aside your doubts and insecurities in favor of focusing on the writing process, the creation of a scene, and the completion of a chapter.

A novel in 30 days is intense.

For this part, we will tackle several points of encouragement in the hopes of helping you achieve the goals you have set for yourself. First and foremost, writing is a mindset. If you believe you are producing crap, it will certainly show in your writing. This is one of the insecurities we need to get over while pounding out a chapter a day.

Let’s begin.

First: Write a chapter a day.

As I have mentioned in Part 1 of this workshop, you must start your novel at the beginning of the month. The first day is chapter one, so on and so forth until you reach chapter thirty on the last day of the month.

Exception: What if you finish your novel on chapter 27 on the 27th day? Celebrate. You have achieved your goal of writing a novel in a month. Just because there are 30 to 31 days in a year on average doesn’t mean your novel has to be 30 to 31 chapters.

Example: I just got off writing Savor, the companion novel for Taste. I started it on September 1 and ended on October 6 because the story called for 36 chapters. But for our purposes, let’s stick to the 30 days = 30 chapters.

Quick tip: It helps to have a calendar with big blank squares for each day. Every time you finish writing a chapter, write on the square on the corresponding day something like: Wrote chapter 1 of Savor today. You’ll be surprised how this little action gives you a certain amount of fulfillment, and will actually help you keep track of your progress.

If you find yourself staring at a blank screen not knowing how to start, try imagining what your character is doing at that moment. Is he sitting down? Is she asleep and just about to wake up? Is he with someone? Where are they?

Set up the scene by describing the location and then go into the dialogue. You can even start your scene with an action sequence or a strand of dialogue. The most important lesson here is to actually start the chapter, get the fingers moving over the letters on your keyboard.

Once you’ve finished the chapter, click on your spell check just to get all those annoying red and green lines out of the way. Then save. Take a deep breath. And rest. You’ve accomplished your goal.

Quick Tip: End your chapter on a cliffhanger. It’s one of the recipes of a page-turner.

I’m sure you’ve heard of taking things a day at a time. Well, that’s what writing a novel in 30 days forces you to do. Just one chapter a day. No matter the length. Focus on getting the chapter out. Once it’s done, give your mind and body a rest. You’ll be surprised at how good it feels to step out of your writing cave afterwards.

Some more advanced writers can stretch the process to 2 chapters a day, but I don’t recommend this on the first try. Even to all of you overachievers out there. Start slow. Writing one chapter a day is nerve-wracking enough.

Second: Let the story flow.

So, the first day is done and you’ve finished chapter 1. Give yourself a pat on the back. Starting a novel is actually one of the hardest parts. Now it’s time to build momentum.

On the second day, start thinking about chapter two. What happens next in your story?

Don’t go back to chapter one. You’re wasting time by doing this. Actually, it’s the beginnings of procrastination and distraction. I will discuss this more during the third point of this section.

Open a new blank page and start the process all over again. Where is your character now? Where is the story headed? Are we switching character points of view? (No matter if your story is in first or third person, you can certainly write each chapter in a different character’s point of view. This allows your readers a peek into someone else’s mindset)

Whether you have an outline or not, let the story flow out of you. At some point, you may hear the voice of doubt telling you “It’s crap.” This is one of the voices you should be ignoring while you are writing because no one writes a perfect first draft. The real work is in the editing process.

Remember: Your goal is to get the story out.

And to get the story out, you have to let it flow, which brings me to my third point.

Third: Don’t worry about editing.

I mentioned in the second point that you shouldn’t go back to chapter one. The reason for this is your mind will move from writing mode to editing mode, and we don’t want that during our 30 days of writing.

Most likely, you are already pressed for time, which is why rereading chapter one or any other previous chapters is a waste of your time.

Remember: When you’re editing, you will be rereading your story until you’re sick of it.

There’s lots of time for editing. Right now, stick to your goal. With each day that passes, write the next chapter. Like someone losing weight by exercising, you will begin to notice that the story is flowing out easier, each chapter looks clearer. This is because you’re gaining momentum, and this is important because it’s what will take you to the end.

Remember: You can do it!

A Novel in 30 Days Workshop

I've been thinking about my offering for the upcoming NaNo this year and it hit me: what better way to get everyone into the spirit of writing than sharing my MUSE workshop?

In case you've missed it or didn't register for the Muse Writer's Conference, I was one of the many authors who hosted writing workshops during the week long conference. Mine was originally posted on October 11.

For the next few days, I will be posting each part of my workshop for all of you to enjoy. You are welcome to participate and ask questions.

So, without further ado, here's the first part of the workshop.


Part 1: Get the Preliminaries Out of the Way

Let’s start this workshop by setting some goals.

My personal goals for this workshop are:

  1. To help writers by imparting some of the techniques I employ during the writing process.
  2. To help writers see it is possible to write a novel in 30 days.
  3. To give quick tips that can be implemented while writing.

Now, it’s your turn to set some goals:

What do you want to achieve after this workshop?

Here are some examples:

Short Term Goal: Prepare to write a novel in 30 days.

Mid Term Goal: Write a chapter a day.

Long Term Goal: Complete a novel in 30 days

Like in any endeavor, setting goals can help focus and center you. If we’re going to tap into the discipline it takes to write a chapter a day, we need to be clear on what we are doing and what we want to achieve.

Every time we start something, we must prepare. Marathon runners train their bodies for the distance. Before we can paint a wall, we must prime it first. Before we play a piece on the piano, stretching our fingers by playing scales helps. Whatever analogy you’d like to use, the main point here is to be prepared.

Remember: The aim is to have a complete novel by the end of the month.

Suggestion: Create a new folder on your computer for your 30 Day Novel. This way everything you do for the writing process goes to one place. You can name the folder New WIP or 30 Day Novel or if you already have a title for your novel, by all means use it. Being organized will help you focus on the writing process.

Alright! Let’s get the preliminaries out of the way.

First: Know what your novel is.

Example: I want to write a Young Adult paranormal romance involving werewolves.

Knowing the category and genre of your novel gives you a step forward in achieving your goal. Let’s take our example. Because I mentioned YA, my main characters are automatically teenagers. And since I want to write a paranormal romance, it means at some point in the story, my characters will fall in love. Lastly, one or all of my characters will be a werewolf.

Quick tip: Don’t start your writing process without a clear idea of what your novel is because you might run out of steam halfway through, and we don’t want that to happen.

Take note I said “what your novel is” and not “what your novel is about.” There’s a very big difference. The best thing about writing a novel in thirty days, you don’t have to know what your story will be about. The most you need to know is what the chapter will be on the day you’re writing it. So, no pressure.

Relax into the process.

Remember: You love telling stories.

Second: Create Character Profiles

Don’t panic! This part isn’t as complicated as what you might think. These profile bullet points helps you to focus on the writing process instead of the little details (these can be fleshed out during the editing process).

Example:

Main Female Character: Natalia Andrews
·         16-years-old
·         Blue eyes
·         Brown hair
·         5’5” and curvy
·         Loves sneakers
·         Fiercely independent

Main Male Character: Brandon Silvermoon
  • 17-years-old
  • Silver eyes
  • Black hair
  • 6’3”
  • Muscular and handsome
  • A werewolf
  • Brooding

As you can see from my examples, I’m keeping the character descriptions as basic as possible. The purpose of this is just so I don’t start with a character with brown hair and end with the same character as a blonde unless my character changes her hair color during the course of the story. The profiles are for keeping the details straight so you don’t need to worry about them and just write, write, and write.

The profiles aren’t limited to your main characters. Make profiles for your secondary characters too. They need just as much attention from you. Also, you can save the document containing your profiles in the folder you’ve created for your 30 Day Novel. If you’re as OC as I am, you can even create a folder within the folder just for your profiles so they are easier to find once your writing process gets started. Sometimes, before I sit down to write my chapter for the day, I would go through the profiles just so I can see who is who.

Third: Do your research.

This is the part of the preliminaries that can be skipped if you feel you don’t need to conduct any research for your novel. I don’t really advocate research on the onset of the writing process because too much information can influence your creativity. Keeping your writing as pure as possible is much better because research for the purpose of verisimilitude can be done during editing.

But there are cases when conducting some research does help.

Example: Setting

I want to set my werewolf novel in Las Vegas. I would conduct a Google search of Las Vegas. Wikipedia is a big help in this case. This allows me to get the lay of the land. What is the weather like? What is the atmosphere like?

If you want to create your own world for your novel, then go right ahead. I’m a big advocate of stretching your creativity to as far as it will go and going further.

Remember: Limitations are the ones you set for yourself.

Once you’re done getting the preliminaries out of the way, you can start writing your novel. Keep in mind that you need to start at the first of the month. Not before and certainly not after. Why are we doing this? Because we’re trying to build discipline. Starting something new at the first of the month helps you begin the right mindset of sitting down and writing every day for the rest of that month. I’ll get into this more in Part 2.

For now, if you have any questions involving Part 1 of the workshop, please feel free to ask them in the comments section and I’ll answer them right away. 

What do you collect?


In preparation for the Reaping Me Softly blog tour, which starts on October 29, 2012, I stumbled upon a question that got me thinking. I was sent a number of tasks to complete for the tour, and one of the tasks involved answering several questions. One of which, charmingly enough, was: Do you collect anything?

Maybe I’m paraphrasing, but that’s the gist of the question.

Anyway, it got me thinking.

When I was little, I used to collect stickers. There was this shop that specialized in selling different stickers: sparkly ones, animal ones, and my favorite, the velvety ones. I remember having tons of sticker books as a kid.

Then in high school, I would collect cards of anime characters. They were basically laminated pictures of the characters from anime that I loved at the time. I had binders full of them. Evangelion characters chief among my collection. I still say it’s one of the best animated series of all time.

 Now that I’m older, I couldn’t really say that I collected shoes because buying shoes is a fashion addiction, not necessarily a collection. In my mind, a collection involves keeping whatever it is you collect safe and damage-free. Shoes, I wear on a daily basis. So, no, they are not a collection for me.

Then there are dresses. But that only speaks more of my shopping addiction, which I’m still trying to kick to this day. I’m not as bad as the characters in Confessions of a Shopaholic, but I do have my moments.

So, with still no answer to the question, I thought about how I would definite a collection.

To me, a collection is where you have different versions of the same thing. Then I thought to myself: is there something that I have different versions of? I turned in a tight circle in my room, scanning its contents, and my gaze flicked from one coin bank to another. My eyes widened in surprise. I had no less than four different coin banks in my room. Most of them adorning my bookshelves. Why would someone have more than one coin bank?

I have found my answer.

Without intending it, through the years I have amassed different kinds of coin banks. The first of which is a vintage Snoopy coin bank which is heavier than the coins you can put inside it. Then, I remember, in high school I begged my mother to buy me the porcelain cow bank which looked like an Indian princess. I wanted it because it was so pretty. Then I have this obsession with Tarepanda, which drew me to the plastic coin bank version. And lastly, who doesn’t love Nightmare Before Christmas? So, I brought home my glow in the dark Jack Skellington coin bank head.

Once I had my answer, I knew I had to post about it. What an extraordinary feeling to realize that through the years you’ve begun your own collection without even realizing it until you were asked. So, I ask you now, what do you collect?     

Haunted Halloween 2012: Guest Post, Reaping Me Softly author, Kate Evangelista + A GIVEAWAY!

Check out my Haunted Halloween 2012: Guest Post, Reaping Me Softly author, Kate Evangelista + A GIVEAWAY! Here'e the link: http://alifeboundbybooks.blogspot.com/2012/10/haunted-halloween-2012-guest-post_14.html

October Giveaway

I have a giveaway for everyone! But before that, below are the links to my Muse Writer's Conference workshop on writing a novel in 30 days. If you're interested in checking it out, here are the links:

A novel in 30 days with Kate Evangelista

Getting to know Kate! Step inside for a bit and say hello.
Much Appreciation and Love!

Okay, now check out this awesome Reaping Me Softly video put together by my kick-ass publicist, Traci:


Isn't it gorgeous? Let us know what you think in the comments section. When you have the time, please visit YouTube and like the video and tweet about it. Spread the word!

Okay, now on to my October Giveaway.

Since October is my favorite month of the year and Reaping Me Softly is to be released on October 30, 2012 on the eve of the most awesome holiday ever, I decided to give back to everyone who's been visiting my little ol' blog through the years.

Here are the amazing prizes:

First Prize


Signed and Dedicated Paperback Copy of Taste

Second Prize


5 Taste Bookplates

Third Prize


5 Reaping Me Softly Bookplates

Fourth Prize


1 Blue Charm Bracelet 

Fifth Prize


1 Green Charm Bracelet

And this is just the beginning. I am gearing up for the ultimate holiday giveaway, but more on that in the future. For now, let's focus on the giveaway I have for all of you today.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway is INTERNATIONAL.

And will last until October 31, 2012 (a.k.a. the best day ever!)

If you want to post about the giveaway on your blog, here's the link to the HTML code is here.
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