Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Writing Process Blog Tour


The lovely EM Castellan invited me to join the Writing Process Blog Tour. She's super-sweet and is my CP's CP. (Does that make us CP cousins or something?) She's represented by Erin Niumata of Folio Literary and writes YA fantasy. She's also a contributor at There and Draft Again. You can find her on Twitter or her blog (where she always uses the coolest GIFs).

What am I currently working on?

I'm currently revising a YA romance called THE TREASURE HUNT, which I'm hoping will be done in time to enter Pitch Wars in August. TTH takes place in a coastal town in Maine during the summer of 1992. There's a treasure hunt, mixed-tapes, a secret admirer, and lots of late '80s and early '90s metal. (Here's my inspiration board if you're interested!)

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I usually write sci-fi or fantasy, so THE TREASURE HUNT differs from everything else I've ever written. But as far as how it differs from other YA romances, I'd say I haven't seen too many featuring metal heads. Also, my characters are often wooed by their love interests with food and drink.

Why do I write what I write?

As EM Castellan said in her post, I write things that I'd like to read. As a writer, you have to read your manuscript AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN, so it's important you write something you wouldn't mind reading over and over!

How does my individual writing process work?

I write down all my ideas in a Word Doc, so I don't forget them. When I have an idea that won't go away and I find myself thinking about it all the time, I realize it's time to work on it. I'm not much of a plotter. I usually have an idea about how it ends, but I'm not quite sure how I'm going to get there. (STRANGE ATTRACTORS is probably the only manuscript I really tried to plot out.) With THE TREASURE HUNT, I just started writing. I thought I knew a few things that were going to happen, but my characters ended up making up their own minds about how things were going to go. Other than the secret admirer and the treasure hunt, I figured the story out as I went.

I don't share my writing with anyone until I've gone through the rough draft a few times. I usually send my manuscript to one CP at a time. After I get their critique, I revise what needs to be revised before sending it to someone else, and so on.

Now it's time to tag some friends!

My wonderful CP Steph Sessa who writes YA SF. Because of her, I'm obsessed with Doctor Who (especially Eleven)!

My writer friend Emily Kate Muyskens who writes YA SF/F. We met through an online writing contest, and we also met in real life(!) at the NESCBWI conference in Springfield, MA.

If you'd like to be tagged, let me know in the comments! :)

Saturday, July 12, 2014

An ABC Review of MORE THAN MUSIC & RRR Interview with Elizabeth Briggs

I recently purchased and read the e-book for MORE THAN MUSIC by Elizabeth Briggs. I really liked it and thought it'd be fun to do another ABC review and RRR interview. (If you missed my first ABC/RRR post, it's here.) So here we go!

Here's the book blurb for MORE THAN MUSIC:

Music major Maddie Taylor just finished her junior year of college and has a summer internship lined up with the LA Philharmonic, yet every night she practices guitar and secretly dreams of a louder life. But geeky girls like her don't get to be rock stars. That is, until tattooed singer Jared Cross catches her playing guitar and invites her to join his band on The Sound, a reality TV show competition.
Once on the show, Maddie discovers there's more to Jared than his flirty smile and bad boy reputation - and that he's just as big a geek as she is. With each performance their attraction becomes impossible to ignore, but when the show pressures them to stay single they're forced to keep their relationship secret.
As the competition heats up, Jared will do whatever it takes for his band to win, and Maddie must decide if following her dream is worth losing her heart.

MORE THAN MUSIC is now available for purchase from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.

The cover is great, and I loved the cool guitar graphics inside the book. This was super-fun to read--I probably finished it in only a couple sittings. I really loved all the references to super heroes, movies, and real-life bands. Jurassic Park is one of my all-time favorite books/movies, so I especially got a kick out of the Jurassic Park/John Williams reference. 

This was actually the first New Adult book I'd ever read, and I think it was a good one for a first-time NA reader. If you like romance, music, reality shows, or super heroes (or villains!), I really think you'll enjoy this book.



The story moves quickly, which I liked. There's some drama involved with the reality show that I didn't expect, and there's lots of sexual tension that keeps the reader interested. It was easy to get sucked into the story and Elizabeth's writing. Elizabeth's knowledge of and love for music really showed during the performance scenes.


MORE THAN MUSIC mostly takes place on the set of The Sound--a reality TV show. It's easy to picture the setting as you read, especially if you've watched American Idol or The Voice. A good portion of the story takes place behind the scenes of the show, and I thought it was interesting to see what reality show contestants do when they're not in front of the camera.


The four main characters--the members of the band--are Maddie, Hector, Jared, and Kyle. Maddie is a sweet, very relatable character. She starts off a bit insecure, not feeling like she fits in, but she soon gains confidence on (and off) stage. Hector is the curly-haired drummer, who probably gives Maddie the hardest time when she first joins the band. Jared and Kyle are brothers. Kyle, the younger brother, is the keyboardist and Maddie's friend at the beginning of the book. Jared is the swoon-worthy singer with a reputation for sleeping around.

I liked all the characters, and I found it easy to imagine what they were like. Even if I hadn't heard beforehand that Elizabeth pictured Jared Leto as Jared, I still probably would have imagined him as the singer!

And now a little bit about Elizabeth Briggs:

Elizabeth Briggs is a full-time geek who writes books for teens and adults. She plays the guitar, mentors at-risk teens, and volunteers with a dog rescue group. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and a pack of small, fluffy dogs.

Some MORE THAN MUSIC questions:

I heard you pictured Jared Leto as Jared Cross while writing MORE THAN MUSIC. Did you cast any of the other characters with celebrities?

Yep, I picture Jared Cross as a younger Jared Leto, back when he had short hair. I imagine Hector looks like the drummer for Incubus, Jose Pasillas, while Kyle looks like The Neighbourhood's singer, Jesse Rutherford. 

If Villain Complex could tour with any real-life band(s), who would they choose?

It would probably be cheating to say Thirty Seconds To Mars, so I’ll go with Linkin Park or Muse – they both put on amazing shows and would probably have a lot of the same fans as Villain Complex.

If Maddie, Jared, Kyle, and Hector were villains, who would they be?

This will actually come up in one of the novellas, MORE THAN COMICS, when they go to Comic-Con! Jared and Maddie would be the Joker and Harley Quinn, of course. Though I could see them as Magneto and Mystique if we went for X-men villains instead. Jared would also make a pretty hot Loki. But if we stick with a Batman theme (with Maddie’s friends Carla and Julie as Catwoman and Poison Ivy), Hector would be Bane and Kyle would be the Riddler. 


What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading FORTUNE’S RISK by Jamie Grey, which is a novella set after her New Adult sci-fi THE STAR THIEF. I love this series!

Do you bring a book with you every place you go, or do you mainly read in one place?

I mainly read in bed or on my couch, with one of my dogs curled up at my side. I will bring a book (or my kindle) with me if I know I’ll be sitting around somewhere.

What is your favorite book to recommend to other people?

A lot of people ask me for other New Adult books that are light and geeky like mine, so I always point them to MAKE IT COUNT by Megan Erickson. It’s tons of fun and has a nerdy-cute guy in it, too.


What time of day do you prefer to write?

I prefer to write in the afternoon and early evening. I tend to do most of the business side of writing in the morning – answering emails, writing blog posts, and so forth – but as soon as that’s done I can start writing.

Do you need to eat or drink something while writing?

I write fastest when I chug Coke, but this isn’t particularly good for me, so I’m trying to break this habit.

Do you listen to music while writing? If so, do you listen to different types of music while drafting and revising?

I listen to music both when drafting and revising, but the type of music depends on the book. For MORE THAN MUSIC I listened to all the songs the band plays throughout the book on repeat to try to capture the feel of them. But for my YA novels I listened to movie scores, such as Inception and Tron Legacy. This partly inspired Maddie’s love of movie scores!


When you’re not writing (or thinking about writing), what do you do to unwind?

I watch TV shows on Netflix for hours until it asks me “are you still watching?” Right now I’m rewatching Scrubs.

What’s your not-so-guilty pleasure?

I read a lot of sexy romance novels and drink a lot of wine. I don’t feel particularly guilty about either of those though!

Do you have any other creative outlets besides writing?

I also play the guitar, though I don’t have time to practice as much as I’d like. I learned how to play all the songs that Maddie plays in MORE THAN MUSIC though!

If you'd like a taste of the songs referenced in the book, here's the playlist for MORE THAN MUSIC:  

Thanks so much Elizabeth for doing the interview!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Music and Writing

I can't write in silence. I need music while writing, but the type of music always changes depending on where I am in the writing process.

I need noise when drafting, but lyrics distract me. So I like to listen to movie/television soundtracks.  My favorites are Game of Thrones by Ramin Djawadi, BBC Sherlock by David Arnold and Michael Price, Downton Abbey by The Chamber Orchestra of London, Harry Potter by John Williams and Alexandre Desplat, Doctor Who by Murray Gold and BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Les Revenants by Mogwai, The Lord of the Rings by Howard Shore, and Jurassic Park by John Williams.

But when I'm editing or revising, I can handle listening to lyrics. Lately, my favorite singers or bands to listen to are Florence + The Machine, Ellie Goulding, MS MR, Lana Del Rey, Lorde, and Marina and The Diamonds.

With every manuscript (or unfinished WIP), I have listened to soundtracks while drafting and select bands or singers during revising/editing. At least I did up until THE TREASURE HUNT. With THE TREASURE HUNT, I listened to metal bands throughout the entire writing process. I think for this ms it helped me connect with my characters since music and mixed tapes play a big part in the story. I mostly listened to Metallica (Ride the Lightning, …And Justice for All, Master of Puppets, and the black album). I also listened to Slayer, Pantera, Testament, Skid Row, Ozzy Osbourne, Iron Maiden, and Megadeth. Ben, the main character, likes grunge/alternative, so sometimes I listened to a select few songs by The Smashing Pumpkins, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Mother Love Bone, and Nirvana.

With THICK AS THIEVES, my Camp Nano WIP, I've tried to stick with sci-fi soundtracks. So far, I've enjoyed listening to Star Trek by Michael Giancchino (thanks to Stephanie Garber for the suggestion!), Fringe: Season 1 by Chad Seiter, Chris Tilton, and Michael Giancchino, Thor by Patrick Doyle, and Doctor Who by Murray Gold and BBC National Orchestra of Wales.

What do you listen to while drafting, revising, and editing?