Tag Archives: novel

NaNoWriMo… And A Bunch of Anthologies

It’s NaNo time! Time to get away from all the pressures and stresses of life, kick back, put your feet up on the coffee table and do nothing but write, all day and all night.

HAHAHA!

Never mind. I’m running around crazy and am lucky if I can get 20 minutes to work on my new novel. Not to mention I’ve got my hand in about every other pie I can stick it in. But, hey, that’s life, and that’s what makes it fun.

This year for NaNoWriMo, (Write 50,000 words in one month. Come on people, you should know this by now. :-P) I am taking a break from all the editing of my other works, and creating a brand new novel, the first in a trilogy. The novel is titled Mercy McNary, (And I have to tell you the names of the other two, because they’re so cool.) The second novel will be called No Mercy, and the third and final will be For Mercy’s Sake. It’s going to be a while before all three of them are done. They are likely to be my NaNo projects for the next 3 years, because it seems like November is the only time I ever get any actual Writing done anymore.

The trilogy, however, is about a woman named Mercy McNary, who happens to be a mercenary. One of the best, actually. When she gets sent to the rural world of Rostim to complete a long list of assassinations, she ends up meeting Jeremiah Justice… Who makes her start wondering if there’s a better life for her. But retiring from being the kind of mercenary that Mercy is, well, that’s not as simple as giving your two weeks notice.

The book is coming along well so far. I’m certainly having a lot of fun with it, and I’m looking forward to this month’s project. It’s not the only thing I’ve been involved with right now, though.

Saturday night I had the pleasure of attending a reading of the Spokane County Library’s anthology, Spokane Writes. My short story, “Tipson and the Wedding,” was included in the anthology, and I had a great time reading it to the group that was gathered there.

As my life normally goes, I can’t have only one thing happening at a time, so I’m also very involved in getting the Spokane Fiction Writer’s Group’s next anthology out. The title is “Get There,” and I’m involved in creating the cover again. That is due to come out later this month.

And I published my own little anthology of my own work. (I guess that’s called a collection, but hey, we’re on the topic of anthologies here.) It’s called What You Want To See, and it’s a collection of kind of creepy short stories that I put out for Halloween this year. I think it’s a great read. I’m too much of a chicken to get into anything really horror-genre, but I do love something a little creepy, so if you’re like me and don’t want blood and guts, it’s a good collection to read, (Says the Author. :D)

And that’s about it, other than being neck deep in projects, cleaning, kids lives, appointments, Snow, (yes, neck deep) and paid work, that’s all I’ve really been up to! LOL

So Have fun, and enjoy the writing.

Another thought on “perfection”

I should have a “perfection” category on my blog. I’ve had a lot of posts related to those. The reason is that I want things to be perfect in my writing, but I know I can’t have that.

I go to a monthly writer’s group where we often will write a short piece and share it with the group, get feedback on it, etc. We keep the writing under 2,000 words, so it’s a nice easy writing exercise, at least for me. I love short pieces. But in the month between when we decide what we’re going to write, and when I actually share it with the group, I probably read and edit it at least three or four times. I go to the group and share it, hoping to get lots of good feedback and suggestions on how to improve it and most often what I get is this kind of stunned silence and a general, “That’s really good” comment. It sometimes frustrates me because I look at it and see all the problems. That’s my biggest stumbling block when it comes to publishing stories. I keep reworking them because I never feel like they’re perfect.

nobody-is-perfect-688365_640

I recently had an incredible experience in regards to this. One of my writing friends, Julia Ward, just published her first book. Every writer talks about how their novel is their baby. Well if Julia’s novel was her baby, I was the novel’s Auntie. I was there through the writing stage of the book, the editing stage of the book, the “why did I write this? It’s awful!” stage of the book, the “Oh wait, there are a few funny parts. Actually, this is pretty good,” stage of the book and finally the, “Holy crap, I’m just about to hit the publish button!” stage of the book. Through the whole thing, I saw that endless struggle for perfection, that endless self-doubt that she would ever be able to reach it. It was the same kind of feeling I had when working on my first novel, the same kind of doubt that it would be any good.

When the novel came out, I picked up my copy and started reading. It was cute, it was fun, it was funny. It wasn’t perfect, but I really didn’t care. I enjoyed it, and I was glad I had it to read. And it made me realize that, yes, I strive to make my novel the best it can be, and that struggle makes it such a much more enjoyable read to someone else, but I will never get it perfect, and I don’t need to, because people want to be transported to some other world, some other life, and as long as the imperfections aren’t extremely distracting, they’re happy to read what has been written.

If you’re interested in Julia’s debut novel, go check it out It really is a great read. (And I’m not biased, being the novel’s Auntie.)

Have fun, and enjoy the writing.

Sometimes… You just have to do it your way.

I think there’s a saying in the bible I need to use.

“I shall repent myself.”

About a year ago, I wrote a blog post all about staying focused as an author. I went on and on about how the difference between being a writer and an author was about caring enough about getting stuff finished that you actually worked on something until… it was finished. And just one something.

I was guilty of the opposite a lot before that blog post. In fact, as a kid I used to open five or six documents and work on multiple stories at one time.

The post I wrote was timely for me, and an important step in my progress as a writer. The truth is, I really hadn’t been focusing. I had wanted for a long time to be able to get something published, but I’d work on something for a while, get bored, then go do something else and never come back to the first thing.

Lately I’ve been letting myself feel guilty. As most of you know, I was part of this “It Gets Darker As You Go” anthology. So I focused on writing and editing the short story for that. And then thanks to that I remembered what fun it is to write short stories, so I crafted one titled “The Life of Miranda Chance” and edited one called “An Acceptable Future,” both of which will be coming out shortly. Then I started thinking about “Slavery’s Circle,” the first novel in my next trilogy that I’ll be releasing when I’m done with the Afterdeath series.

But with all of this focus going in all these different directions, I wasn’t working on Turning Point, which is book two in my Afterdeath series. There was kind of a dual reason why my attention wasn’t on the novel. The first was because I just don’t really know where to take it. I’ve written the entire novel already, and the revisions are going hard and slow. The second was because it was just fun to slip back into my old routine of multiple projects at once.

It was last night that I had a moment of genius, and I realized that even though picking one work and focusing on it is a good tactic, and it was certainly a great thing for me to do when I wrote Love is Death, that it’s not necessarily “required” of being an author.

Last night I opened up two documents. I opened Turning Point, and I opened Slavery’s Circle. I got one chapter revised on the Turning Point, and three chapters done on Slavery’s Circle. Now I realize, there’s a greater focus on the book that I’m not planning to put out right away, but it was time well spent, because otherwise I would have been surfing the internet or wasting my time creating a cover for some book I probably won’t publish for a few more months. Last night, though, when my mind hit its usual brick wall on Turning Point, I simply turned to my other novel. My productivity skyrocketed. Even if not all my time was spent on the one I’m supposed to “focus” on, I spent all my time writing, and the other book I was focusing on was one that will need to be finished eventually.

It’s great to pick one thing and focus, and there is definitely a time when that’s appropriate. In my opinion, NaNoWriMo is great for doing this. But at the same time, there’s nothing wrong with doing it your own way, doing what you’re most comfortable with. Even if that means writing two books at one time. With Camp NaNoWriMo coming up in July, I actually plan to work on both novels. I’ll be setting word count goals that I want to achieve for both Turning Point and Slavery’s Circle. I’ll be focusing. I’ll just be focusing on two things at once. Which, honestly, is something I do really well.

Have fun. And enjoy the writing.

3 ways to avoid inconsistency

Think… Monsters Inc. Remember that line, when Mike and Sully leave the apartment and Mike says to Sully, “You’ve been jealous of my looks since the fourth grade.” Remember that? Good.

Now, think… Monsters University. And how jealous Sully was of his good looks in the… Fourth grade? Wait.

The entire premise of Monsters University makes that line in Monsters Inc completely impossible. Not to mention they act like they’ve never met the Abominable Snowman when they get banished in Monsters Inc, but the end of Monsters University flips that on it’s head as well.

You can’t blame Monsters Inc too much. I mean, how long was it between the first movie and the second? Time between storytelling is a perfect excuse for inconsistency. Just take a look at X-men. Which one? Oh, take your pick. You can pretty much sit down and watch any two x-men movies and there will probably be something that contradicts something else.  My favorite is “X-men Origins: Wolverine” versus “The Wolverine.” We find out in Origins that Logan had bone-claws, got them fused with adamantium, and then shortly thereafter lost all memory of his life before. But the opening sequence in the Wolverine shows Logan hanging in a well using his bone claws to hold him up. When this scene is mentioned later in the show, Logan seems to remember the occurrence.

inconsistency

photo credit: mememaker.net

Inconsistencies pop up in almost any series, and even in standalone stories. What we say at “once upon a time” might conflict with what we say at “happily ever after.” We’re never going to be able to make that perfect (That’s a recurring theme throughout my blog) but here are some pieces of advice you can try to minimize them.

Style Sheets

I learned about Style Sheets in an editing class I took a few months ago. Basically it’s one piece of paper, or excel document, or whatever works best for your mind, where you write down anything that you might forget. Did you spell your main character’s name Marc or Mark? Write that down. Did your supporting character tell his friend he has a severe peanut allergy? Write it down, because you don’t want him eating a PB&J halfway through the book. (Unless you intend to do a hospital scene shortly thereafter.)

Style sheets are going to help you out in keeping things straight for the novel you’re working on, but if you end up writing a series, make sure to keep your style sheets from book one and two, etc. They will be invaluable. It means you won’t have to go back and read through the first few books while you’re trying to write the next one. That being said, it leads me into my next tip.

Read what you wrote

I know this one seems a bit obvious. But it’s a little more than that. I suppose I should say “read what you wrote, and read it fast.” Don’t skim, because you might skim over the inconsistencies. But before you hit “publish” on that novel, read through the whole book, not with an eye to edit or “fix” it, but with an eye to catch any inconsistencies. It’s incredible how taking a whole afternoon and crashing through your novel, (kind of like one of your addicted readers might do) can help you realize you said one thing in chapter 2 and something else in chapter 28.

And last but not least,

Know your weaknesses

This one I might just be preaching to myself, but I know my weaknesses when it comes to inconsistencies. I might write something on page 87 that says the drive would take seventeen hours to get out to the test site. Perfect. But on page 92, after they’ve done their tests, gotten some lunch, shot the breeze, or whatever, they get in the car to head home and show up just before dinner.

I know I’m awful at timeline stuff. Some people could just put timeline stuff in their style sheet and have no problem. That doesn’t work for me. I invested in a timeline program just last year, and absolutely love it. I can keep track of when things happen, and can even put in notes of how long google says it takes to get from point A to point B. It gives my story a lot more realistic feel to it, when I can say “it took us a day and a half to get to L.A.” rather than just saying, “Sometime later we arrived in L.A.”

So what techniques do you use to keep track of and avoid your inconsistencies? Let me know in the comments below.

Have fun, and enjoy the writing.

 

Be…Her…Guest

Today I had the honor of being a guest on DeAnna Browne’s blog. She posted about my upcoming release of Love is Death. She also has an exclusive inside look that will give you a little insight into the world of the Afterdeath.

I’m so excited about my upcoming novel that I can’t help but share my cover here on my blog as well.

LoveIsDeath

Regardless of where you’ll be reading this, either on your phone, computer or in the comfy pages of a paperback book, it looks gorgeous!

What a rush it is for me to be here, only a few weeks away from publishing my first novel. If you would like to receive an email on the release date, sign up on my mailing list.

Thanks for stopping by. Be sure to hop on over to DeAnna Brown’s blog to read that excerpt!

Have fun, and enjoy the writing, (and the reading.)

My Turn to Rave

I know it’s been a while since my last blog post, but here’s why.

I just edited a 56,000 word novel in 10 days. Not to mention having to take care of children and do all the other amazing things I do.

I’m not saying the following things to brag about myself, more to brag about my editor. My editor had a lot of really nice things to say about my novel, Love is Death. You know, it’s great to have your family and friends read your work and tell you it’s good, but there’s just something different about having a professional look at your work and tell you this was a great story and she really enjoyed it.

And speaking of professional, that’s what my editor is. She had a chance to rave about my book in her comments and emails to me, and now it’s my turn to rave about her.

Let me tell you a little more. The “Edited By” acknowledgement of my novel will proudly hold the name Miranda Miller of Editing Realm. Their “tagline” at Editing Realm is “High-quality editing services at affordable prices!” and that’s the truth. I had been looking for an editor for a few weeks before I found Editing Realm, and I was seeing quotes of $2,000, $3,000, sometimes even $5,000 for my novel. It was simply unattainable. I have to be honest, when I stumbled upon Editing Realm’s services I was a little leery of how cheap the prices were, but I desperately wanted an editor, and I figured if I made a mistake picking them, then at least it wasn’t an extremely expensive mistake.

Now that I’m done with my edits, I can assure you it wasn’t a mistake at all.

I’ve heard a lot of people say that an editor should improve your work, but not change your voice. Miranda was brilliant at exactly that. She immediately identified several of my weaknesses: My characters looked a lot. (look, people gotta look at things worth looking at, right?) Using repetitive phrases repetitively, (see previous parenthetical.) Passive voice, (Although the passive voice was trying to be fixed by me as the author as I was doing my own edits.) Oh… And overuse of ellipses… but, I mean… they’re just so dramatic when you have ten of them in one sentence… aren’t they?

Sorry if that previous sentence was painful to read. It was a bit painful to write, and I totally got off track with it. Miranda was probably twitching as she read it.

Not only did she find my weaknesses, but she strengthened my word choice. She was like a magician. I brought in this beat up old parrot of a word, she put it in a box, waved her magic wand and out came a shinning, glorious new dove of a word. I mean, I use the thesaurus sometimes and end up pulling out a pterodactyl, but pretty much every word change she suggested I looked at and thought, That’s a perfect word for that. Why didn’t I think of that word?

As I started out this post saying, Miranda had a lot of great things to say about the story as it went on. As authors, we don’t get to hear our readers’ gasps when that love interest gets hurt or see their eye rolls when that antagonist does something stupid. Miranda put those gasps and eye rolls in the comments, as well as a lot of really great suggestions on how to improve the characters and flow.

I had a few questions and several scenes that I had changed heavily in the edits. I sent them to her and she was always quick to respond, and clear in her answers.

My point is that I want to tell the world, (or at least, anyone who reads my blog) all about Miranda Miller of Editing Realm. I will definitely be using her for my future novels, and have already recommended her to a friend who is planning to publish soon as well. She has erased one of the major concerns I had about self-publishing, and that was having a book that I didn’t feel was truly “polished.” It’s less than a month until my novel hits the virtual shelves, and I couldn’t be more excited.

So have fun, and enjoy the writing, (or editing as the case may be.)

Publish this, Publish that.

I’ve been writing this blog for a few months now, and as you may have noticed one of the themes that comes up in my posts quite often is perfection, (or the lack thereof.) Mostly I’ve been writing about perfection because I need to come to terms with my realization that I’m not, and I won’t be perfect, and that’s okay.

So a lot of my posts have helped prepare me for publishing my upcoming novel by letting me work out the thoughts and worries I have about publishing, but they’ve also helped in a much more practical way.

They’ve helped because I’ve been publishing them.

I write my posts. I read them, (probably two or three…or eight times) and then I click on the little blue button that says “Publish.”

I love that it says publish, because it’s giving me practice for that moment when I click my own “Publish” button on my novel. Just like my blog posts, it will not be perfect. it won’t be interesting to everyone. Some people might read the first few paragraphs. Some might get halfway through and then get struck with an acute case of boredom. While yet others might get all the way through and rave about how wonderful it was. (By the way, if you’d like to rave about how wonderful this post is in the comments, I wouldn’t mind. 😉

The fact is, though, that I’m publishing it. I’m putting it out there for others to see. I’m talking about it and sharing it, and giving other people the opportunity to like it or to hate it. Because writing is meant to be read. Ideas are meant to be shared, be they the small ideas expressed in a few hundred-word blog post, or the big ideas expressed in a 60,000 word novel.

So now that I’ve finished writing this blog post, I’m going to read through it a few times, and then I’m going to push that pretty blue “Publish” button. And in one month and eight days, I will click the Publish button on a different website, the one that will make my debut novel available to anyone who wants to read it.

I love it.

So have fun. And enjoy the writing.

 

Love Is Death-Blurb Reveal

It’s like dreams are coming true all over the place.

dog-1601041_1280

(I wanted a picture to put in the post, and what better than a dog dreaming? Perfectly adorable.)

I’ve been working with my designer the last few days to get my cover just right. We’re not quite ready for a cover reveal yet, but it’s getting close.

Today I splurged, and spent a whopping seventy-five cents to get my cover printed. I had some running around to do this evening, and I spent some time with friends as well. I carried that piece of paper around with me everywhere.

I showed it to my friends who were all excited, and already fighting over who gets to buy the first book. They kept asking me if I knew the girl who posed for it. (I do. She’s my friend’s daughter.) and one woman tonight said, “Everyone keeps asking if you know her because she’s just so pretty.” I’ll have to pass that message on.

At one point I went to get back in my car and I saw the cover in the dim light from a street lamp and thought, “That’s a nice looking cover. What book is that?”

“Oh right. It’s mine!”

I’m not trying to brag, (although, really, any bragging I would do would be all about my cover designer because he’s incredible.) All I’m trying to say is, that dreams are coming true. The count down is on to November 16th when my novel will be released. And although we’re not quite ready for that cover reveal just yet, I decided I would give you all a break and do a blurb reveal. So here it is.

Rest in Peace?

What a joke. Ghosts rarely rest, and when we do, it’s never in peace.

Gina’s plan for her afterlife is simple: survive as long as possible. The afterlife is a ghost-kill-ghost kind of place. When she meets newly-dead Alec, she can’t help her desire to protect him. Before she knows it, she finds herself falling for him, despite the little voice in her head telling her it’s a bad idea.

Alec’s goals don’t mesh well with Gina’s plans. Determined to save his living sister from a murderer, he’s willing to disobey the laws of a well-established cult in the afterlife. If the cult finds out, they’ll kill him. Again. He’s hesitant to accept Gina’s help and threaten her afterlife, but he’s guaranteed to fail without her.

Together they embark on a perilous mission, but the most dangerous aspect of all is the threat of falling in love. Because in the afterlife…love is death.

Cover reveal coming soon. Be sure to check back, or to make life easier on you, follow my blog. (Just click one of the options to the right…)

So have fun. And enjoy the writing. (And have some dreams come true.)

Oh, Why Not?

It’s almost October, and I’ve been reading a lot of other people’s blogs. Everyone is talking about NaNoWriMo, so I thought…. NaNo? WhyNot?

NaNoWriMo has been extremely influential and literally life-changing for my writing career, but there were several years that I turned my nose up at it. I used to say, “NaNo? Hell No!” This post is all about why I thought that…and when I changed.

I gotta say. I love the theme this year!

I gotta say. I love the theme this year!

So let me tell you a story.

I began writing when I was twelve years old. By the time I was fourteen I was certain I was going to be a best seller before I was sixteen. When I was sixteen I realized I had to get working at this whole publishing thing or I was going to get too old to do it. (I mean, who publishes their first book AFTER they’re 18? Heck no. I wouldn’t be, like, cool in high school if I did that!)

So I sent my query letter off to an agent. I waited the required number of weeks until I got my SASE back, and then I cried myself to sleep when it said basically, thanks, but no thanks. (It was, however, a personalized rejection, which I now realize is quite an accomplishment in the querying writer’s world.)

My life, however, was ruined. I mean. The first agent I ever sent my novel to, didn’t want it. What was I going to do? (Yes. I was a little dramatic.)

But no, really. What could I do? I don’t know. Maybe just keep writing.

That’s what I did. Novel after novel after novel. Usually three or four or five all at once. I had several people tell me, “Don’t ever take a creative writing class. They just want to tell you rules and destroy your natural genius in writing.” So for a long time I didn’t take creative writing classes. And then I decided that I wanted to. I grit my teeth, promised myself I would cling to my natural genius, and I would not allow this single creative writing class to destroy me.

It didn’t destroy me. It remade me.

I learned. So much. I took several creative writing classes in college. One of them I honestly thought was intended to destroy my natural genius. I didn’t like the way the teacher taught. I didn’t like the short story examples I had to read. I didn’t like the formulaic crap we were forced to write. And do you know what? I dropped the class.

It was around this time that I learned about NaNoWriMo. I had a friend who loved doing it, and the first thought that came to my mind was, “That’s only something amateurs do. I want to be a professional writer. I’m never going to touch something so awful as NaNoWriMo.”

I kept plodding away on my writing projects. This was kind of a dry spell in my writing life. I had no real umph, no real drive. I kept writing, because I knew it was what I wanted to do, but I felt like every word I put down was wrong, every character I created was flat, every story I thought of was crap.

I moved away from home in 2006 and started getting more serious about my writing again. Although, I can’t say how serious I was when I was younger. I found that original query letter I sent out at 14 and I cried again. This time I cried because I never knew how terrible the query had been.

These were the years when I would randomly think of NaNoWriMo in the middle of the summer. Or I would remember November was the month for it and look at the calendar to see that it was already the twenty-third. I allowed myself to consider the possibility of perhaps participating in it. After all, those creative writing classes certainly hadn’t squashed my inner writer like a bug. Perhaps NaNo wouldn’t, either.

In April of 2010 (I was unaware there was more to NaNo than just November. Funny that I did this during Camp.) But that year I sat down to the computer and started writing this idea I’d been thinking of for a while. I got the first chapter done and read it to my husband, and he said, “Well, what happens next?” I said, “I don’t know.” and he said, “So go write it!”

That next week was a whirlwind of writing a few chapters, reading them to the hubby, getting scolded for stopping on a cliff-hanger ending, and hurrying back to my computer so I could discover the next big reveal. (Yes. I am a pantser, in case anyone was wondering after that paragraph.)

Ten days later I had 30 or 40,000 words written and a complete rough draft of the novel.

That November in 2010 was the one when the realization that NaNoWriMo happens this month, and the proximity to the end of the month were both reasonable. I didn’t think of NaNo until the tenth, but I figured I wanted to be a professional writer, and those daily word count goals would be easy enough to catch up on. I’d finished that novel in April that was almost long enough to be a NaNo. I signed up and started writing.

You know those mid-November blues. Don’t deny it. You know them. Well, I got them. Bad. Long story short, at two days to the end of the month I still had 16,000 words to write to “win” NaNoWriMo. I have my husband to thank for me winning that year. He said, “16,000? You can do it.” So I locked myself in a room with the computer and pounded out six thousand words that first day. The last day saw me up early in the morning. Hubby brought me breakfast. He brought me lunch. He brought me dinner. The whole day long I sat there pounding keys. This was a word war to the max!

donotdisturb

Eleven o’clock PM I smiled to myself and typed out the last two words. The End. I validated my word count with just over fifty thousand words, celebrated with my husband that I’d done it, and I went to bed.

And My. Life. Changed.

Createspace was giving away free proofs of your NaNo novel as a prize for winning that year. I read through the novel once, fixed a few of the spelling errors, slapped together some cover art and hit, “Send me my proof.”

Three days later I had a novel in my hands. My novel. My book. I could feel it, flip through the pages. I could smell the fresh ink. I could curl up in bed and read it. Which I did. Then I lent it to my mom, who loved it. And she lent it to my sister, who loved it. My dad, my sister in law, my other sister. The book was passed around from hand to hand and with every pass I heard the same thing. “I love it.”

It was the first time since I was fourteen years old that I honestly believed I could publish something. It was a re-ignition of that fire I’d felt as a young adult. I could write. I loved to write. And I wanted to be able to share it with people.

NaNoWriMo did that for me. I don’t even want to imagine how different things would have been if I’d said, 16,000 words were too many to write in two days. I don’t want to imagine where I would be if I never finished that NaNo. I like to think that I would have tried again the next November and that I would have gotten that same ignition then, but all I can say is I’m glad I won that first year. Because it truly changed my mind set.

Okay. The story’s not really over. That was 2010, and now it’s six years later and I’m finally getting my first novel published. It still took me a while to get over that, “I’m good, but I’m just not good enough” mindset that I had when I was younger. But I started to change. NaNo was my catalyst. I can track the very beginning of that change in my writing life to November 10, 2010 when I said…NaNo? WhyNot?

I know it’s hard. It is. That’s a lot of words to write in one month. But what kind of writer do you want to be? If you’re serious about being a professional writer, then you’re going to have to write a lot of words. There’s just something electric, something incredible about the community and the excitement of NaNoWriMo that can be life changing. There’s something amazing about holding your novel in your hands. So have fun this November. And enjoy the writing.

Painted Blind

Here’s my debut book review post. I’ll be reviewing a wide range of styles and books. Here we have a YA Romance, but I have plans to review a classic Scifi novel, a western, a post-apocalypse novel, a romance novel, and many, many other genres. Just like with my writing, I really enjoy reading a wide variety of genres. So let’s get started.

I must say, this is an excellent book to start with. Not only because my debut published novel will be YA romance, but because this is by far one of the best books I have read in a while. I rave about it. I told my mom and all my sisters to read it. Told my friends at church to read it. I’ve picked it up and skimmed the pages a few times since I finished it.

I know. You’re wondering what this amazing book is. Let me welcome to the spotlight…

Painted Blind by Michelle A. Hansen.

hi res cover image

 

 

Every story has a story, and I would like to tell the story of how I got this story. (Whew. My editor would be like, “Repeated word usage here.” I know. Sorry.)

I picked this book up at an author conference back in October. Michelle had two books and I asked her which she recommended for me and she suggested this one. After reading it I’m ready to go get her other novel; Before They Find Us.

But first, let me tell you about Painted Blind.

This is a case of bad inductive reasoning. I bought Painted Blind at the same time as I bought another book that I…um…did not enjoy. So Sherlock mind of mine assumed that this story would be exactly the same. Don’t think about the fact that it was by a different author, was a different story, different category, etc. etc.

So it went home with me and sat on my bookshelf for three months. One afternoon I was cleaning up around the book shelf, noticed it, and thought, “Hmm. I should give this book a chance.” So I took it upstairs and put it on my headboard. Where it waited another week.

Then one late evening while I was feeding my sweet little baby, I was bored. What better way to cure boredom than to pick up a book. Thankfully, Painted Blind was on my headboard.

I read the prologue, and thought, Hmm. Interesting.

I read the first chapter and thought, Very interesting.

By the end of the second chapter I was hooked. Oh. No. Every fear Psyche had in the first chapter has now come true. I needed to find out what she would do, so I chewed through that book in a couple of days, (which is an impressive feat when you have two young children at home.)

What’s it about? you ask. Well…

Psyche is a down-to-earth drop-dead gorgeous girl who has just gotten back to her small Montana hometown after a summer of modeling. She promised her dad when she left that there would be no nude photo shoots, and she…mostly…kept that promise, but that one single shoot she did that was questionable, ends up on a billboard in the center of town.

She meets Erik, a mysterious and–strangely–invisible young man who is willing to help her out of all the trouble and publicity she’s dealing with because of the ad.

They pretty much fall madly in love with each other. Want more details, go read the book. I’m just going to spend the rest of the time telling you why it was so perfect. (Well, almost perfect. Make sure to read my post about that here.) I could go on forever writing all my reasons, and explaining them to death, but I’m just going to turn it into a nice little list.

  1. The Hook: I felt like Michelle did a great job of introducing the conflict right off the bat. The end of chapter one leaves us with some foreshadowing of what’s about to come. By the end of chapter two, Psyche has seen her face and nearly naked body on a billboard in the center of town.
  2. The Conflict: There is constantly increasing conflict in the story. As I read I thought, “oh yeah. That’s bad, but…she can fix it.” then something happened, and I thought, “Yeah. That’s worse. But she can still get out of it.” And then…something worse happened. Every time I started to feel like things would work out and Psyche could solve this on her own without too much pain, then there was another problem and another.
  3. The Pacing: This is kind of related to the above, but the pacing was really good, (for the most part…more on this later.) I would read a chapter and feel all tense and worked up, and then she’d put in this chapter where the hero and heroine just talked and hung out. It was a real nice break from the stress of the novel. Then she’d hammer me again with another problem.
  4. The relationship: More of my brilliant inductive reasoning that I mentioned above came into play here. When I read the blurb on the back of the book I thought, “A hero who’s invisible? How the heck are we supposed to fall in love with that?” You know how? Banter. I loved the way the two characters talked. The relationship, the conversations were natural and funny. One of the few books I’ve read that has made me actually, literally laugh out loud. (I chuckle sometimes when reading, but full on laughing? Not often.)
  5. The Characters: Besides having a really great hero and heroine, the supporting characters in this book were great. I was having an internal battle trying to decide if I was more in love with Rory or Aeas as supporting characters. Not sure that I decided which, but I do have to say, the epilogue made me laugh and cry. (and it has to do with Rory, so he might have won the battle.) I love to mention the characters I love, but my goodness, she can make you really hate some characters, too. The only word I can come up with to describe the antagonist is “despicable,” (and not in the cute “despicable Me” way.) But last of all when talking about the characters, I simply can’t leave out that I truly feel awful for the poor wolf that got pepper sprayed. To this day I think about that pup and just want to join in its pitiful yips and whines.
  6. The Settings: I swear, I felt like I was traveling the world as I read this book. The settings were absolutely beautiful, and stunningly described.

Whew. Now that the list is over, just a few more things and then I’ll let it be.

There is only one major complaint I have about the novel. I personally felt like the journey leading up to Psyche’s final task was too long and drawn out. Don’t get me wrong, the descriptions and setting were beautiful, and I actually had the opportunity to ask Michelle a few questions and think I understand the reason for the rather drawn-out journey, but I found myself feeling extremely bored in those couple of chapters. The ending is worth slogging through them, though, and here’s why…

She’s a princess.

Yeah. It’s a YA novel. Like, every girl becomes a princess, right?

Well that’s not what I said. She doesn’t become a princess. I said she IS a princess. The whole book long.

I’ll try not to give too much of the ending away, (but seriously, it’s a romance. If I tell you they lived happily ever after I’m sure you won’t be surprised.) So I’ll just say it. They live happily ever after. And at one point near the very end, Psyche stands up and commands people–just like a princess. When I read that scene I had to stop and think for a moment. Was she acting out of character to give such royal commands? Where did she learn to be a princess and act like that?

As I reflected on the book, I realized that she acted that way throughout the entire story. I won’t tell you where, but as you read it, (because you should) keep an eye out for her princessly acts. You may be as pleasantly surprised as I was to realize that she is royal to her soul.

This point alone was what made me love the book so much. As a mom, even though my children are young, I am constantly on the lookout for novels that portray the kinds of values that I believe are important. Having morals is one of those values I respect. In Painted Blind, Psyche was real. She held standards for herself, but they were part of who she was, not just thrown in in order to make a point. They were integral to the storyline, and she certainly wasn’t perfect in upholding those standards at times. Her imperfection is what gets her in trouble, but her willingness to change and stand for her values at the end is what saves her. I have read some YA novels by christian writers who force their character to have morals. Those books feel more like a lecture than a novel. I believe it’s important to show morals in a realistic way, with the characters failing and screwing up sometimes, because, let’s be honest, nobody is perfect.

So there you have it, basically every reason I could think of for you to go out and buy the book. When I get enough time to read her other book, I will almost certainly be posting another review here again. So tell me what you think in the comments section. Have you read the book? Did you love it, or am I crazy? If you haven’t read the book…Um, what are you waiting for? Buying it is, like, two clicks away.Michelle A Hansen 2015 small

A big thanks to Michelle A. Hansen for writing her book, and for sharing some fun insights into the project through an email conversation. Perhaps if anyone is interested I’ll write another post and share some of the info she said I could use on my blog. This one’s already really long, though, so…

Have fun and enjoy the writing.