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Book Review: Competing with the Star by Krysten Lindsay Hager

Book Review: Competing with the Star by Krysten Lindsay Hager

Title: Competing with the Star

Author: Krysten Lindsay Hager

Purchasing link: http://amzn.to/29bAjev

About the book:

The perfect guy, the perfect location. What could go wrong? 

Hadley Daniels’s life seems perfect…
Before the beginning of sophomore year of high school, Hadley and her family move to a beautiful beach town, where she makes amazing new friends and lands the boyfriend of her dreams—Nick Jenkins. He’s the kind of guy every girl swoons over, and it isn’t long until Hadley discovers some are still swooning.
A famous ex-girlfriend makes matters more complicated…
After some time dating, Hadley and Nick form a deep bond. But insecurity sets in when Hadley discovers her boyfriend once had a huge crush on her friend—who just happens to be the beautiful former teen TV star, Simone Hendrickson.
The past is the past—or so they say…
Hadley confronts Nick, who confesses about his history with Simone. Though he claims to only have eyes for Hadley now, it’s hard to believe—especially when she’s blindsided with the news that Nick and Simone kissed after school.
Now Hadley must determine who is telling the truth. Love, betrayal, friendship…who needs soap opera drama when you’re busy competing with a star?

Watch the video for my full review:

What is the point of fiction?

What is the point of fiction?, guest post by RF Dunham

We all love to write and I’d wager that most of us aren’t going to stop anytime soon. There are ups and downs, days when we can’t seem to stop writing and days when we can’t seem to start. But despite all of that, we’re committed to this crazy pursuit. I’d like to ask all of us a question in light of that fact:
Why do you write every day? Why do you sit around creating make believe worlds and populating them with all sorts of characters? Why do you expect to make a living off such a strange activity? Why don’t you do something more “productive” or “useful” with your time?
Now, I hope those questions don’t offend you. I certainly don’t believe writing fictional stories is unproductive or useless. I do, however, want to provoke you to thought, just in case you haven’t considered these questions before. As a writer, you should know why you’re writing. You should have a goal larger than simply finishing your next book.
What’s yours? Why do you write?
What is the point of fiction?, guest post by RF Dunham
In a very broad sense, I think all of us might answer that question in very much the same way. The specifics will be different of course, but when you strip away the top layers, the foundation will be similar.
We all write with the very simple purpose of changing the way people think. Even if we don’t realize it, that’s our ultimate goal. We write stories so that people will read them, of course, but what effect do we expect them to have? Doesn’t it go beyond mere entertainment or escapism? Every story we interact with changes us at some fundamental level. The characters infect us, the plot sparks a new line of thinking, the setting captivates our imagination; something changes when we consume stories. Something changes in your readers when they consume your stories.
Now think about this: what effects are your stories producing in your readers?
You wield incredible power. What are you using it to accomplish? If the point of fiction is to change the way people think, what are you changing about your readers’ thinking?
If you can come up with answers to these questions, you’ll have your goal. You’ll have something that drives you to write even when you don’t feel like it. Even when the words just don’t seem to flow, you’ll force them out because you have a purpose. Writing is fun, sure. But it’s also work. Work with a profound purpose.
Don’t miss out on your purpose as a writer. That purpose is a flame that will fuel countless books if you can tap into it. If you’re only writing because it’s fun, your motivation will slacken eventually. You’ll give up and look for something else. But if you’re driven by passion, by an all-consuming desire to get something done, you’ll never stop. Even better, that passion will bleed through into your stories and your readers will feel it. They’ll be hungry for more even if they don’t know why.
So, what is the point of fiction? The point of fiction is no less than to change the world, one person at a time.
The pen is indeed mightier than the sword. Use yours wisely.

Find out more about me by subscribing to my mailing list at dunhamwriter.com. I’ll send you a free book chapter by chapter, and much more!

What is the point of fiction?, guest post by RF Dunham
R.F. Dunham writes with one purpose: to take you places you've never been before. That might be a distant fantasy land, the far reaches of space, the future of earth, or simply to an idea you've never encountered. A student of language and culture, Dunham's stories will pull you into complex worlds that challenge your perception of your own surroundings.

After working for over two years as a professional ghostwriter, the time has finally come for him to release his first full-length novel published in his own name, The Other Side of Hope. His short story, “Just a Drop,” was recently published in Nebula Rift Science Fiction magazine and an interactive version of the story is currently in beta testing. When he’s not writing, R.F. can be found playing the trumpet, writing his thesis in Arabic linguistics, or hiking in the mountains of Virginia. 

Amazon page: http://amzn.to/2a1o6qy

What is the point of fiction?, guest post by RF Dunham


How to Use Writer’s Contests to Get Closer to a Publishing Contract

How to Use Writer’s Contests to Get Closer to a Publishing Contract, guest post by Colleen M. Story

Before I starting getting publishing contracts, I spent a lot of years writing and trying to become a better writer.

A lot of years.

I submitted to some publishers and agents along the way, but what really helped me to improve my writing was one thing: submitting to contests.

Here’s how you, too, can use this tool to become a better writer, and get closer to that coveted publishing contract. Even if you choose to self-publish, contests can help you create a quality book that you’ll be proud of.

Contests Are About More Than Prizes

I don’t remember exactly when I started entering contests. It was about ten years ago, and I think I just happened to see an ad in a writer’s magazine one day and figured, “What the heck. I’ll give it a try.”

When I first started entering contests, like most writers, I hoped my books would make the finalist cut, and dreamed of maybe earning a prize somewhere down the road. But what really pushed me over the edge and helped me to make the commitment to enter was one thing: critiques.

As a young writer, most of us long for feedback on our work. We often write in isolation for years, oblivious as to whether we’re doing it “right” or not. Only by showing our work to others can we receive that feedback we need to improve our craft.

But getting feedback is a tricky thing. If you show the book to your spouse, your friends, or your mom, for instance, you’re likely to get overly positive feedback. These people care about you, and want to build you up, so they’re probably going to hesitate when providing any construction criticism. (Unless you have a sibling that has always enjoyed making you squirm a bit.)

Writer’s groups aren’t always the most helpful, either. Members often come from different backgrounds and bring different levels of experience to the table. That means some of their feedback may be helpful, but some may not—and some could be downright destructive.

In fact, the wrong kind of feedback can destroy a young writer, so you have to be very careful. You don’t want your budding talent squashed before you get it off the ground.

How to Use Writer’s Contests to Get Closer to a Publishing Contract, guest post by Colleen M. Story
Contests Provide Unbiased Feedback

What you need is feedback from strangers—people who don’t know you and have no emotional ties that could sway their feedback. Instead, they’re just looking at your story and judging it strictly on its merits as a story.

That’s where contests can be really helpful. Many offer critiques—I highly recommend entering these.

But don’t stop there. You still have to learn how to read, interpret, and act on writing critiques, and that takes time and a lot of critiques.

If you limit yourself to one, for example—say you hire a book doctor or single book editor, or you enter only one contest to get one critique—you run the risk of putting too much credence in what one person has to say.

Maybe that person is right about some things. Maybe your pacing, for example, is too slow. But maybe he also says that your idea lacks market appeal, your plot is unbelievable, or your antagonist is all wrong, and you should change it. This could spell bad news for your book.

This is where contests can be really helpful. Many of them offer two-to-three critiques per entry, which means that your story is read and critiqued by more than one person. The beauty of this is that you more than one critique back at the same time, and you can compare.

This is a really good exercise for three reasons:

·       You learn through direct evidence that everyone’s opinion is objective.
·       You learn what’s going right with your book.
·       You learn what you may need to work on.

Learning to Interpret Critiques

I can’t tell you how many times I got two critiques that opposed each other. One praised my dialogue, while the other said the dialogue needed work. One loved my setting descriptions, whereas the other said I needed to include more detail.

It became almost laughable, which was great for me, because early on, I tended to believe everything about a critique, and would get very discouraged with the negative feedback. Seeing these opposing points of view taught me one thing very clearly—opinions are subjective, and when it comes to your work, you have to trust your gut.

How do you do that? It takes practice, but the more critiques you receive, the better you’ll get at it. I’ll talk more about this below.

Before we get to that, there’s the other side of the coin. When you get two-to-three critiques, something else happens. They will usually agree on a few things. These are the things you want to pay close attention to. If they all love your concept, for instance, you can feel confident about moving forward with it. If they all love your main character, or your opening paragraph, then you can rest easy that these things are probably going well.

Then they will agree on some things you need to work on, too. Again, these are things you really want to pay attention to. If your ending confuses them all, for example, look at it again. If two of them can’t understand your antagonist’s motivations, then again, that’s something to consider investigating.

And this is where your gut comes into play.

Listen to Your Gut Before Making Changes

As you review your critiques—the more the better—write down those comments that they all have in common. (Or the ones that more than one person mentioned.)

Usually it’s best to give the critiques a few days to sit. We all experience emotions in response to feedback—elation at the positive comments, pain at the negative ones. We need time to let those emotions cool so we can look more objectively at our own work.

How to Use Writer’s Contests to Get Closer to a Publishing Contract, guest post by Colleen M. StoryThen sit down and read the “in common comments” again and tune into your gut. If something stirs—if you feel some sort of inner recognition in response to that comment—then go back and work on that part of your story.

This method really works. Almost every time without fail, when a couple people pointed out something that’s wasn’t quite working with a story, I realized I already knew it, but just needed that little push to take action. Going through this exercise with your story critiques can really propel your growth as a writer.

As you continue to enter contests each year, review the critiques, apply what you learn, and your writing will improve. Eventually, when you start to earn some accolades—your story is chosen as a finalist or even places in the top ten—that’s even more feedback that you’re on the right track.

Bonus if you get some cash and recognition, right?

If you’re ready to go for it, you can find a good list of writing contests at these sources:

·       Poets & Writers Magazine and Website
·       Writer’s Digest Magazine
·       The Writer Magazine and Website
·       New Pages Website
·       Funds for Writers Website
·       Tethered by Letters

Colleen M. Story writes imaginative fiction and is also a freelance writer, instructor, and motivational speaker specializing in creativity, productivity, and personal wellness. Her latest novel, "Loreena’s Gift," was released with Dzanc Books April 12 2016. Her fantasy novel, "Rise of the Sidenah," is a North American Book Awards winner, and New Apple Book Awards Official Selection (Young Adult). She is the founder of Writing and Wellness (writingandwellness.com) a motivational site for writers and other creatives. 

Connect with the author:  Website  ~ Twitter  

Interview with John Kaniecki

Interview with John Kaniecki

What genre do you write and why?

I like to write poetry and fiction: horror, fantasy and science fiction. In my poetry I really express my heart and world views. In my fiction I just go wild. I primarily write for the enjoyment. Also I hope to make a living off of it soon.

Tell us about your latest book.

Poet to the Poor is my second poetry book. Poet to the Poor has my best poetry in it as it is my first full length book. About 40 of the poems had been previously published. It is a book that touches both the heart and the mind.

Who are your favourite authors?

As far as poetry goes, my favourite poet is Langston Hughes. He is consistent in his excellence. I also admire the way he addressed social issues. He could take the ordinary and make it extra ordinary. I also liked the way that he didn't have a strict format while still incorporating rhyme and rhythm. I admire Langston Hughes in addressing both social and political issues of great importance. It is very important to speak on the defining moments of our times. To anything else is in my opinion a sell out. I also admire T.S. Eliot a great deal. However his volume of work is very small and his outlook on life is just too depressing.

What advice do you have for other writers?

Read a great deal. That will not only help you with style but it will also give you a lot of ideas. A few poems in the book were motivated by reading something and then having an experience where I was compelled to write. I find writing both prose and fiction enhances my writing skills. Be prepared to take rejection, it will come no matter how much talent you possess. Write what you love and don't let anybody else define you. Never sell out, no matter what. I'm not saying you can't compromise but don't sell out.

What's the best thing about being a writer?

The best thing about writing is sharing the thoughts and ideas that I have. I am a man of ideals and try my best to live up to them. I want to change the world for the better and in my poetic communications I feel that in some small way I have done something positive.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing?

http://johnkaniecki.weebly.com/   This is my website.

Or simply Google "John Kaniecki Poetry"

Why do you think readers are going to enjoy your book?

I think that people will find the poetry beautiful and thought provoking. Thought provoking to the point where it will become challenging.

How long did it take you to write your book?

This book was really written over a lifetime. As I said it incorporates my best poetry from over the years. I started writing poetry in earnest five years ago when both of my parents passed away. It served as an emotional outlet. You can see the passion in the poems.

Who inspires you?

Inspiration for the book comes from historical figures and people from my life. But in truth inspiration comes from just about anywhere. Poetry is an art that can make the mundane come to life. I am particularly inspired by revolutionaries. Brave people who stand up for what is right.

What is your work in progress? Tell us about it.

I have a book of my memoirs soon to come out. It is called 'More Than the Madness'. It deals with my early years in life. In particular it examines me as a person with bipolar disorder. It is a book of humanity. Also I have a horror book called 'Scarecrow Scarecrow' to be published by Fat Lip Press. Other than that I have five other books looking for a home. "I Should Have Been a Rock Star" is a science fiction book. "Fallon from the Farm" is fantasy. "Tremendous Tales of Tatakana" is a book about the development of a people. "Mareze's Mold" is a short science fiction book. "In the Mind of Maggoo" is horror. This is in addition to numerous short stories of various lengths.

What are you currently reading?

I am constantly reading and rereading the Bible. I am reading a horror book as well.

When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?

I volunteer as a missionary in the inner city of Newark at the Church of Christ at Chancellor Avenue. I also take care of my wife who is ill. I write late at night when my wife is sleeping, usually to be awakened early.

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