Tag Archives: craft

Anniversary Blog Hop: I have a contract. NOW WHAT?

Last week on Crescent Moon Press’ Blog, I posted my pitch to my publisher.  It was my first and it wasn’t pretty, but I caught the eye of the editor and here I am today.  But what happened between then and now.  Boy, a whole lot!  (Don’t forget to leave a comment on this post and Crescent Moon Press’ Blog and be entered to win signed print copy of Soul Reborn, see details below)

I remember being so stunned by the contract offer.  It took about a month and then I received my first edit reviews and was surprised there wasn’t more red letters and highlighted sections.  I thought wow, maybe this won’t be so bad.  Little did I know the first edits were story structure and plot, which tends to be one of my strengths.  Let’s just say the second and third passes were bloody.  Don’t even talk to me about passive writing.  Ack!  I worked so hard to remove it, I will never make that mistake again.

I think the fabulous part of it all was that my editor was as much a mentor as she was my editor.  She did an amazing job.  I laughed at my own mistakes and learned some hard lessons, all of which have made me be a better writer today.  This is a tough industry and to say you must have tough skin is an understatement.  The key that made it such a great experience was the fact that I wanted her to be brutal, because it forced me to learn and change my habits as a writer.  It was very important not to take her feedback personally. She wanted this book to succeed as much as I did.

Of course I can’t help but share one of my editorial comments.  Like I said before, I did a lot of laughing at myself. A. LOT.

Not many authors share their faults, but what the hell– it’s my anniversary!

Editors comments on my CRUTCH PHRASES:  “You really, really, REALLY love the phrases “clenched teeth” and “ground teeth.” It seems like someone is clenching or grinding their teeth every page or so, sometimes more than once per page. We can’t have that. Delve deeper into the 98% of communication that is nonverbal and find more ways to show your characters’ frustration/irritation. I started marking the ones I saw about halfway through the manuscript. Globally searching for “teeth” and “jaw” should root out most of them. Have fun!”

Her comments inspired me to share my experience.  This is an archived post that I released shortly before my book was released.

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What I learned from my editor in the first 60 days: “Oh, how I love to “grind my teeth.” Crutch phrases and everything else in between…

I picked my favorite lesson out of the list because I can’t help but laugh every time I see it. “Oh, how I love to grind my teeth” or as it were “Oh, how my characters loved to grind their teeth.”

Being a new writer has its challenges. It is a learning process every step of the way, and thank god for my editor, Heather Howland at Crescent Moon Press. She has held my hand through editing Soul Reborn and its journey to publication. I can’t thank her enough.

Yes, writing about emotion and the display of it is very difficult for a new writer. Whether it is inexperience or laziness, we use phrases over and over and over again. Apparently, my idea of showing frustration was teeth grinding and jaw clenching. My hero, Asar- Egyptian God of the Underworld, is a very intense character, angry and bitter. Poor guys soulless. He gets very frustrated with the heroine, Lilly. She is a serious distraction from his quest for vengeance. For as many times as he ground his teeth (67 occurrences) and clenched (19) his jaw, he would have nubs for dentition and TMJ by the end of the story. A dentist’s nightmare.

Lesson one: Find other body parts and gestures to display negative emotion.
As humans, non-verbal body language is a very important component of communication. It conveys how an individual may be feeling with or without verbal stimuli. It includes body posture, gestures, facial expression and eye movements. Research suggests anywhere between 60-90 percent of our communication is non-verbal. We process these non-verbal cues on a subconscious level. Astounding!

Whether we are using gestures, body posture or even the distance we place ourselves from another individual all conveys some meaning. Some unintentional gestures can act as a lie detector. Using these concepts in our writing empowers the characters, makes them real to the reader. Okay, easier said than done. Right?

How did I solve my problem? I decided I need to make some observations. What better place to pick up on negative non-verbal communication than the metro station in DC. Not a whole lot of verbal communication goes on between strangers in this environment and who wouldn’t be frustrated packed into a metro car with millions of other people invading their personal space.

Frustration cues
Arms crossed over chest
Rubbing/scratching the back of the neck/head
Running fingers through the hair
Short breaths exhaling in small puffs through nose
Clenching hands
Pointing one index finger
And yes, clenching jaw and teeth

Mix these gestures with facial expressions, body posture and verbal exchange and your character comes alive.

What is your favorite crutch phrase? What have you learned about yourself in your writing process? Please take a moment to share…

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So, there you have it.  From contact to release were some of the hardest days in my writing career.  Writing the stories are easy compared to tearing them apart and accepting your flaws, but in the end the reward was worth THIS…

To see my first cover:

Crescent Moon Press

 To announcing Soul Reborn’s release:

https://wickedromance.wordpress.com/2011/04/13/soul-reborn-available-on-kindle/

To reading my first reviews:

5-slipper review

To attend my first conference & book signing:

Thank you!!

Look out for more things to come. 

Leave a comment on the Anniversary Blog Hop posts and be entered to win a signed print copy of Soul Reborn!   (print- US/Canada only; ebook- international)

1st Stop:  Crescent Moon Press Blog

2nd Stop:  This Post

3rd Stop:  My first conference and Book  Signing.  Is that Lara Adrian?

4th Stop: Last day of Sale/Sunday, July 15th.  The Journey Continues: Book II

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Filed under Craft, Key to the Cursed, Lessons in 60 days

Author Open MIC: Welcomes Cindy Young-Turner

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Hi everyone.  I’m so excited to introduce a fellow CMP author to you today.  I’ve had the great pleasure of reading her novel, and fell in love with her heroine.  Although she is here to guest post, I want to give you the opportunity to get to know her and her book.  This is a MUST READ.  At the end of her post, I’ll be asking Cindy some questions about her novel and what is on the horizon for her characters—so stay tuned.  You won’t be disappointed.

Bio:  Cindy has always been an avid reader and became fascinated by mythology and Arthurian legends at a young age. She quickly decided she enjoyed creating her own worlds and characters and set to work writing her own stories. She won her first writing contest at age twelve, a short story inspired by the style of Edgar Allan Poe. Branching her interests from mythology to classic supernatural tales to medieval history and then to fantasy seemed to be a logical progression.

A native New Englander, Cindy currently lives in the Mid-Atlantic region with her family and each year wishes for more snow. You can visit her at her website at www.cindyyoungturner.com.

So, Cindy.  The mic is yours….

Guest post—A fantasy author finds inspiration in the past

Thanks for having me, Jean! One of the hardest parts about writing fantasy is that I can’t go to a particular location where my novel is set or look it up on the internet to do research. My novel takes place in a world I’ve created. Granted, it’s a medieval-based setting, so some things may seem familiar, but it only exists in my head. The closest I’ve come to experiencing my world is at our local renaissance festival and during a trip to Edinburgh, Scotland.

My husband and I took a belated honeymoon to Scotland. It was our first trip out of the country and a dream vacation. I’ve been fascinated by Scotland for a long timethe culture, the history, the music, the beautiful landscape. With only a nine day trip, we had to carefully pick and choose what we wanted to see. We spent two days in London, then took the train to Edinburgh for a couple days and then another train ride to Inverness. None of it disappointed. Edinburgh was an amazing city. We spent a good amount of time on the Royal Mile, which was a bit touristy, but I loved the cobblestone streets, the old buildings, and all the history that had been preserved.

While we were in Edinburgh, we took one of those ghost tours that seem to be all the rage these days. I’d never heard of a ghost tour before (this was a number of years ago), but a friend who had been there highly recommended it. We had a choice between a tour during the daytime that ended in a pub or one at night that ended in a cemetery. Ha, of course we picked the tour ending in a pub. I’m so glad we didn’t do one at night because frankly, I was terrified. Lots of creepy things happened on the old streets of Edinburgh, and lots of terrible punishments were meted out. For example, the infamous body snatchers Burke and Hare killed people and sold their bodies for medical dissection in the 1800s. Burke was hanged, publicly dissected, and souvenirs were made from his skin. His skeleton is displayed in the University of Edinburgh, and we were told it’s set at an angle so his soul would never be at rest. Some of the creepiest stories we heard during the tour were about Mary King’s Close, where supposedly when the plague swept through in the 1600s people were boarded up in their homes and left to die. This is one of the most haunted places in the city and has been featured on some of those “most haunted” shows. Just thinking about it still gives me chills. The tour also took us to the South Bridge Vaults, which had recently been opened up. People lived and worked in these underground passages in the late 18th century. Conditions in the vaults were horrific, and it became a slum and a red light district and as a result also attracted all sorts of criminals. We went through some of the vaults on the tour. Imagine walking through dimly lit tunnels with the guide warning you not to lose the group and oh, don’t worry if you hear heavy footsteps behind you because sometimes people do. Yikes. No one in the group wanted to be a straggler. After that I was ready for the pub and a good stiff drink.

Now this isn’t to say that my novel is full of infamous murderers, cruel punishments, or haunted underground passages. Well, on second thought, some of that does apply. I certainly pictured the narrow, winding cobblestone streets of Edinburgh when I was writing the story. In the town where the primary action of the novel occurs there are a series of tunnels that run beneath the streets. These tunnels play a key role and were inspired by the vaults I went through beneath Edinburgh, although mine don’t have such a sordid history (the crime and prostitution happens above ground instead). And since this is fantasy, the tunnels also have a bit of magic, and it’s a creepy otherworld kind of magic tinged with fear. In my world, danger lurks around every corner, especially the shadowy ones.

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Sydney, a street urchin and pickpocket in the town of Last Hope, has managed to evade the oppressive Guild for years, but there is no escaping fate when she’s sentenced to death for associating with the resistance.

After she’s rescued by a wizard, Sydney is forced to accept that magic-long outlawed throughout the Kingdom of Thanumor-still exists, and the Tuatha, a powerful faery folk, are much more than ancient myth and legend. When the wizard offers a chance to fight the Guild and bring Willem, bastard prince and champion of the Tuatha, to the throne, Sydney embraces the cause as a way to find her own redemption.

But Sydney’s fear of the Guild, distrust of authority, and surprising connection to the Tuatha threaten Willem’s success. Can she untangle the strange threads that entwine her life not only to the fate of the kingdom, but also to Willem himself?

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INTERVIEW WITH CINDY YOUNG-TURNER

1.  Where do you turn to for inspiration?

I love listening to music when I write and picking music that matches the mood of the scene. I listen to a lot of Celtic music and movie soundtracks (especially the Lord of the Rings soundtracks), as well as harder stuff like Godsmack, Evanesence, Black Sabbath, and Nine Inch Nails. And because part of the novel involves people rising up and fighting oppression, I’ve also been inspired by events in history like the Scottish struggle for independence and the French revolution. I guess I like to root for the underdog.

2.  Okay, now a question for my next favorite thing—your heroine, Sydney.  Tell us about her and what motivates her?

I adore Sydney. She’s very flawed and very human. I think to understand her you have to understand where she comes from, that she’s lost the person dearest to her and has had to fend for herself on the streets. The town of Last Hope is not a nice place. She’s done whatever she had to do to survive. At the beginning of the novel, she has a hard time trusting people and carries around a lot of guilt and doubt in herself. But she also has a moral core that her father figure instilled in her, which has remained despite the difficult choices she’s made. During the course of the story she has the opportunity to finally uphold those principles and realizes she really can fight for what she believes in and make a difference. When she meets Willem, the man who is trying to gain the throne and oust the oppressive Guild that has been the source of so much pain for Sydney personally, he gives her hope that change is possible. It’s really a turning point for her. And yeah, there’s some romance there also.

Sydney undergoes a tremendous amount of growth by the end of the book, even though she makes plenty of mistakes along the way. I hope readers can sympathize with her and will be able to understand and be inspired by her struggle to overcome her past and fight for a better future.

3.  In five words, can you describe the hero, Willem.

Determined, confident, inspiring, compassionate, chivalrous

4.  What is the future for Willem and Sydney?

Well, I don’t want to give away any spoilers. I’m working on the sequel to Thief of Hope now. The adventures continue, and as the stakes get higher, the dangers increase, for both Sydney and Willem. I think the question isn’t whether they want to be together but whether they CAN be. Can a pickpocket/street urchin become a queen? And does she want to be? Can love conquer all? Honestly, I won’t know until I finish writing the book because I’m the kind of person who writes to find out what happens in the story. The jury is still out on this one. My characters often have a way of surprising me, though, so anything is possible.

5.  Where can readers find you?

Website: http://www.cindyyoungturner.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cindy-Young-Turner/206268086074718

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4882750.Cindy_Young_Turner

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/AuthorCindyYT

Buy links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Thief-Hope-Cindy-Young-Turner/dp/0982820070/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_t_3

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/thief-of-hope-cindy-young-turner/1031233191?ean=9780982820070&itm=1&usri=thief%2bof%2bhope

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Cindy, thank you so much for taking the MIC today.  I always love to hear how authors obtain inspiration in creating their worlds.  I fell in love with your book, its setting, and characters.  It’s one of those books that makes you feel like you’re in the middle of the story with its sights and sounds.  I can’t wait for the sequel. 

Keep writing and happy reading to all!!

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2012 Author Open Mic

I am trying something a little different for 2012. 

Twice a month I am hosting “Author Open Mic.” The days will spotlight an author, their work or any topic that they want to cover.  It can be off the cuff or customized based on the author’s needs. The goal is to get readers and authors together, throw some questions out there that need to be asked and answered, and most importantly, have fun.  There are no requirements or restrictions.  And yes, this is for mature audiences 😉

If anyone is interested in taking the mic for the day at Wicked Romance to promote their next book, book event, or topic of your choice just drop me an email at murray(dot)jeanm(at)gmail(dot)com

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Author Jean Murray ~ Live Excerpt Reading of Soul Reborn

Come join me on Other Worlds of Romance (Blog Talk Radio) with my host Linda Mooney to discuss my novel, Soul Reborn and hear an excerpt reading from the book.

When:  Monday, 17 October at 11pm EST

Where: Linda Mooney’s Radio Blog, Other Worlds of Romance

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/other_worlds_of_romance/2011/10/18/jean-murray-is-my-guest-author-on-october-17th

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Filed under Events, Guest Author, PROMO, Sales, Soul Reborn

Spotlight Author ~ at Joyfully Reviewed

Hey everyone.  I’m visiting with the great folks of Joyfully Reviewed.  They’ve asked some tough questions about Soul Reborn. Come join me in discussing the characters and their creator.  http://www.joyfullyreviewed.com/interviews/author-spotlight-jean-murray

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Filed under Book Review, Craft, Events, Guest Author, PROMO, Soul Reborn

Backseat Nightmares ~ Join me to discuss “Monsters: What Nightmares are made of…”

Hey folks.  I’m over at Backseat Nightmares for a 2-day event.  Today, I’ll be discussing MONSTERS and NIGHTMARES.  The best of what paranormal and horror has to offer.  Come learn about my zombie revens, and read an excerpt tomorrow from my novel, Soul Reborn.

To join me click HERE.

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RT Book Review of Soul Reborn ~ 4 star rating

Well, it’s out.  The review I have been sweating just released in September Issue of the Romantic Times (RT) Book Reviews…

4: Compelling. A page-turner

RT gave Soul Reborn 4-stars out of their 41/2 star rating.  RT reviews are some of the most weighted reviews in the romance industry.  I am ecstatic and can’t wait to get my copy of RT in the mail.  I’m dying to find out what they wrote.  Did you receive your RT magazine?  Are you willing to give me a sneak peek of the review?

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Soul Reborn ~ FREE READ & author interview over at Tink’s Place

Please join me over at Tink’s Place for a FREE READ of Soul Reborn & interview of behind the scenes making of Soul Reborn. Come find out what’s in store for the Key to the Cursed Series.  The goddess needs to pay for her sins…

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The Dead Man’s Party: Egyptian Afterlife Party WINNERS!!

Before I get to announcing the winners, I just want to say thank you for making the Dead Man’s Party so much fun.  Although exhausted, I had fun creating the Egyptian Party Festivities.  Hope you enjoyed learning how to make your own mummy.  I showed it to my kids and they won’t stop playing with it.  They’re boys, what can I say.

MATCHMAKER:

These were YOUR MATCHES:

  Asar + Lilly.     This one was easy.

Bomani + Kit.  These two might be a great fit.  They are both experienced fighters.

Bomani + Mystery Goddess.

Bakari + Kit.

Bakari + Mystery Goddess

Now here was the big shocker for me and this match was suggested several times.

 Kamen + Kendra.  It took me a little bit to understand, but after some deliberation, I can see the appealing connection between these two.  These were all fabulous matches.  I can’t wait for you to get to know these characters more in-depth.  I challenge you to read Soul Reborn and come back to these matches.  With more than a small blurb on a post, I’d love to find out who you would match with whom after knowing a little bit more about the characters. Would they change or stay the same?

Answers:

1. Soul Reborn:  Asar & Lilly

2. Soul Awakened:  Bakari – Kendra – Bomani – (I’ll give you a hint, there is a winner and a loser)

3. Soul Unleashed:  Kamen & Kit  (Kit takes him to the edge of his control and back, plus she needs to be taught a lesson or two)

4. Soul Redeemed:  B. + Mystery Goddess  (sorry, can’t spoil it, not yet anyways)

Here are the Egyptian Afterlife Party Winners:

1. Author signed copy of Soul Reborn or ebook:  Tammy R.

2. Egyptian Tarot Cards:  Grailmaiden (Julianne D.)

3. Scarab Charm (made in Egypt): Mindy Fangedmom

4. Ushabti (made in Egypt): Duskrider (Victoria GR)

I wish I could give everyone that commented a prize.  But, stay tuned….  There will be more giveaways announced at Wicked Romance in the future.  Thanks for partying with us.

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Writing MYTHology into your next novel? Read this before you start…

Fascinated with Celtic lore?  Enamored by ancient mummies and tales of curses?  Would you love to twist your own tale, but don’t know where to start?  I have the answers to get you started.  Stop over at RWA Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal Chapter Blog to discuss bringing Mythology into your next novel.  It’s not as easy as it sounds.

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