Tuesday, June 21, 2016

I'm moving!

Not literally, but digitally.

In the next few weeks, I'm switching everything over to soniapoynter.com. I've loved my stay here at Willows Writer, but because of convenience, hey, I'm all about convenience, everything is switching over. So  all the blog posts you found here will be lugged over to there. Yes, it's an undertaking, but I love a good challenge, plus I need the exercise!

So, what's that site again?


Thursday, June 2, 2016

When the zombie virus got me down...

I was only going to take a few weeks off to get my back into shape, but let's be honest, those weeks turned into months.

My back issues knocked me for a doozy in February.

To solve the back issue, they put me on prednisone, which in turn lowered my immunity, then I came down with Shingles. UGH. It seemed to hang around like some creeper from a Criminal Minds episode. I remember coming out of my bedroom, when it was at its peak, and my family turned their heads because they had just witnessed patient zero of the zombie plague. Speaking of zombies, Shingles knocked me on my butt, not so much with pain, but more so with fatigue. I'm just now
poking my head out of my covers, and I can finally feel my energy returning. Oh, and my back and I have a fragile peace. I promise not to do any more home improvements if it promises to cool it on the pain.

But life stops for no man, or woman, and it sure didn't stop for me. From February to May, here is a shortened list of what went on:

  • Our youngest graduated from high school, and we held a Pretty In Pink Open House to celebrate the start of her adult life. Still can't believe she is done with home schooling. (It's a cliche, but sometimes cliches work - Where has the time gone.)
  • Our oldest graduated from her university in Ohio.
  • That same daughter took a job in Dubai. She leaves in August. Ask me later how I feel about that.
  • We celebrated four birthdays, albeit they were rather lame. (Sorry Jack, Hannah, Jeff, and myself for having the zombie virus.)
  • Finished my fourth book, Paper White, then sent it out to my betas, and my agent. (It will need to go through a few more editing rounds before its completely finished, but for now it's at a good place.)
  • I've been interning with my amazing agent, Jessica Schmeidler. (She is pretty impressive. She is also pretty and impressive too.)
  • Lastly, our Korean exchange student, Jack, had to return home. Not going to lie, I'm pretty sad about him going. I still expect to hear him come home from school. Seems that all my kids are leaving me this year.
It's funny how a minor sickness, cause lets face it, mine was pretty minor, can really make you stop. Only what was really important got done. When I was going through this, I was kind of mad, okay, I was just outright mad. I had stuff to do, you know. I needed to do this, this, and this. 

Funny, those things still got done, they just didn't get done to my perfectionist standards, and you know what? That's okay. God has a way of making you stop. In the midst of my whirlwind of a year, where all my kids are fluttering off along their own paths, I got to spend time with each of them just enjoying them. I'll never get that time back, but the memories, I'll keep for a lifetime, and I thank God for that. <3

Exodus 14:14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Cover Reveal for Signs of Attraction

I'm super excited to announce the Cover Reveal for Laura Brown's SIGNS OF ATTRACTION! I virtually met Laura from a Facebook Writers group we belong to. She is pretty much awesome. So Here it is:

Coming June 14, 2016 from Avon Impulse

Do you know what hearing loss sounds like? I do.
All my life I've tried to be like you. I've failed.
So I keep it hidden.
But on the day my world crashed down around me, Reed was there.
He showed me just how loud and vibrant silence can be, even when I struggled to understand.
He's unlike anyone I've ever known. His soulful eyes and strong hands pulled me in before I knew what was happening.
And as I saw those hands sign, felt them sparking on me, I knew: imperfect could be perfect.
Reed makes me feel things I've never felt. It's exciting...and terrifying.
Because he sees me like no one else has, and I'm afraid of what he'll find if he looks too closely.
The only thing that scares me more than being with him? Letting him go.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Publisher Available for pre-order!

About the Author:
Laura Brown lives in Massachusetts with her quirky abnormal family. Her husband’s put up with her since high school, her young son keeps her on her toes, and her three cats think they deserve more scratches. Hearing loss is a big part of who she is, from her own Hard of Hearing ears, to the characters she creates.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

You've written a novel, what next...

I've been laid up with a bum back for the past few weeks. For some reason it's killed me to sit at a desk, so I've been lounging in different chairs much like Goldilocks, attempting to find the perfect position.

Today, I'm actually sitting at my desk. Yay me.

During those few weeks, I was able to meet with a fabulous new author and we discussed, over brunch, how to get her book into the right hands of agents. Since, I have a fabulous agent, Jessica Schmeidler of Golden Wheat Literary, I don't have to go through go through the query trenches again. What a weight off, but I thought I'd share, just a smidgen, of what I shared with her.

First up get on twitter and make writer friends. When you realize you aren't alone, wonderful things happen. Plus, this is just such a cool place to meet other writers. I mean, some days it seems publishing deals even get made there.

Next, make sure your manuscript is ready for prime time. (Hey, we've all been there. With eager little fingers we send it to agents before it is ready. DON'T. Stop right here! Find some excellent Beta's or CP's and swap!)

You've think you're ready, now to write your query letter. Do the research, find out what works, find out what doesn't, repeat often. Query letters are a beast unto themselves. So be prepared to come out of it bloodied and spent. (For me, it took about a month, and even after, it was revised again.) You know those writer friends you've made on twitter, this is a good point to network with them and share your query letters. Believe it or not, I've found that most want you to succeed. How cool is that.

Some helpful links on queries to check out:
8 Tips From Literary Agents About How to Get Published
The Single Most Important Thing Your Query Letter Must Do If You Want To Get A Literary Agent
How To Write A Query Letter In 12 Easy Steps

So you have a kick-butt query, now what do you do? This is where your business side must turn on. RESEARCH. Start searching. Thanks to the interwebz there are a gazillion ways to find the right agent. And, thanks to the interwebz, there are a gazillion ways to find the wrong agent. You are looking for agents who like/read/want what you've got!

Join Query Tracker, or you could manage your own spreadsheet, but, as for me, I rather enjoyed having this already done. Query Tracker gave me all the details along with a community for writers to ferret out the good and the bad. It has a wonderful portal for keeping track of who you sent your query to, along with which particular letter you sent. (Might not seem like a big deal, but believe me it was.)

Then there is Preditors & Editors, another excellent site to help with scammers. Remember, we don't want to get burned.

Okay, you have your list, now what? Here is where patients comes in handy. Don't send out your query in mass emails. For me, I chose only five to ten agents, ones I thought might enjoy my manuscript, then I detailed my query to fit their taste and humor. Check, check, check, before you send. Is your greetings correct? Did you follow their guidelines? At this point I'd probably have my synopsis completed as well--another beast to fight with as well.

Now wait. This is a lot like fishing, moments might go by or weeks. If you get a nibble, great, if you get a big fish, fantastic, but if the water is tranquil as glass, time to refine your query letter again. Chances are your query letter didn't gain the notice you wanted. (See, this is why we take our time.) Be prepared for a bunch of no's. That's okay, just keep your eye focused on the water.

Repeat again in small batches.

Lastly, start writing a new story. Something about a new idea gives you the energy you need to say HAY, I CAN DO THIS!

Some other helpful links:

How to Get a Book Published – The 7 Step Plan
Wordcount Dracula

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Second Drafts

Second Drafts

Writing isn’t easy. It is a lot of man hours and time spent learning, studying, daydreaming, and working. It isn’t for the faint of heart. At points I think my head will explode, at points I’m pretty sure it does, but oh how I love it! To see a story as a puddle of gooey words get its own legs is exciting.
This week, I'm preparing to embark on my second draft of my WIP, Paper White. The story has marinated in my brain for a couple of weeks. I've lifted the lid and taken a good whiff, and she's ready to give the once over of a second draft.

So, what does a second draft look like for me?

I read over the story start to finish. I don't worry with line edits at this point I'm only looking at big picture ideas. Also, I don’t actually change anything, but I do make lots and lots of notes.

Here is what I’m looking for:
  • Do I have themes that emerge, some of which I’ve planned, some of which I haven’t? I liken it to a treasure hunt. Themes are always there, whether intentional or not. (Score! I’ve got some good ones. I’ll want to go back and reinforce those!)
  • Plot holes – Oh yeah, they are there. They always are.
  • Foreshadowing –Foreshadowing becomes a tightrope walk. Not enough and the story can fall to its doom and too much, then the reader will become bored.
  • Can I delete any characters? Can I combine any characters? Are they interesting enough to want to read about? This WIP, I have one character that I’m waffling on. I like him, but I’m afraid he can be merged with another to round her out. But, dang, I don’t want to lose him, he likes to quote Batman.
  • Is my timeline consistent? (Warning, I can get a little crazy with this one, and
    could write a whole post on this. For now, I will just say, that I make notes and graphs, working it all into my story/plot board.)
  • How is the pacing? The arc? Is my story happening too quickly or is it slow?  (I can already see where I need to add more chapters. Which always makes me as happy as a cat with a bowl of kibbles. I might be using this example because I forgot to buy cat food, and I’m paying for it today. Every step I take a whiskered face meows at me.)
  • Lastly, I begin to keep an eye out for words that I’ve overused on the same page. Once when I was editing, I’d overdone the word hand so much that it became hilarious. It went something like this: She held his hand with her hand and they walked hand and hand. I might be exaggerating, but you get the picture.
Tomorrow—I’ll be making a story/plot board, so I can systematically plan out how to fix it all!

So, what do you work on during your second draft? 

Verse this week:
1 John 4:7-8 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 

Friday, February 5, 2016

My favorite Movies...


heart them. 

Something about formulating a plan, always makes me excited. Recently, I've started drawing little boxes next to my lists, just so I can check it off when the item is completed. Now, I used to cross things off, but as of late, I like checking. (If I don't get the item done, then I cross it off, admitting a terrible failure on my part. *cue defeated music here. Believe me, that music has repeated this week, often.)

My list love, isn't just for a to-do list, I also love lists about almost anything: Bucket lists, top- favorite songs, top favorite movies, favorite places, names, goals for the week, goals for the month, goals for the year, well, basically anything. 

I even enjoy reading other people's lists. What do they find important? What do they like? What do they dis-like? What are they doing? It's a fascinating window into their mind. 

So, I thought it would be fun for the next few posts to share some of my own favorite lists. 

This week’s list - Movie favorites.

I'm not putting these in order, well, because, I simply can't. I might be copping out, but it would be like picking a favorite child.

  • The Village- This movie reminds me so much of my childhood. Did we have monsters lurking about in the woods out my back door? Maybe, at least on occasion I thought so. Especially, when I read Pet Cemetery. We had a huge picture window that gazed out into a dense forest. Often, I would look up at the swaying trees and the rolling fog only to see shadows moving about. Seriously, the music, the secrets, this movie does it for me.

  • Amadeus - I'm going to tell my age, but I watched this movie not long after I graduated from high school. Since then, I've made my husband watch it, over and over and over again. What's not to love? Hulce and Abraham, are fantastic, and I'm always drawn into the sheer charisma of this movie. 

  • The Gladiator - Are you not entertained? That's all I can say about that. Okay, I can say more. Russell Crowe.

  • It's a Wonderful Life - It's a family thing. Just last Christmas our local small town movie theater played it. I thought, hey, it will just be our family to watch it. Nope. I was wrong. It sold out and was still as good as the first time I saw it, better even. Turns out the lady behind me had never seen it. While I knew everything that was about to happen, you could literally hear her sigh, laugh, cry, and cheer through George Bailey's life. 

  • West Side Story - I was in the sixth grade, and a local high school put this play on. After that I was hooked. I own the original, real, honest to goodness vinyl soundtrack of this movie, and of course the script. Often, I think of re-writing this movie with a sci-fi twist. (Yes, I know it is a re-write of Romeo and Juliet.) 

  • Princess Bride - Rodents of Unusual Size. Maw-rage is what brings us together today. As you wish. So many good lines in this movie. It’s comic gold, and it will never go out of style.

  • Labyrinth - I'm pretty sure I am, Sarah. My girls love this movie, and rightly so. What's not to love?  A few years ago, my nearly adult children made, oops, I mean watched this movie with their friends. Their friends quickly decided that there was something wrong with each one of us. No, sweet, dear friends, there is something wrong with you. Seriously, how can you not like this movie? And I kind-of-sort-of judge you by what you think of this. Okay, not really, well, maybe a little.

  • Pan's Labyrinth - Dark and strange, hmm a little like me. This movie is a war fairy tale if ever there was one. It's heart breaking. For years, this movie has stuck with me. To this day the Pale Man still gives me the creeps. 

  • The Lord of the Rings Series - This is the way a series should be done, not like the Hobbit. Why on earth was that made into a trilogy? Why? (Apologies, I’ll get back on topic.) When I was a child, this book and the Sword of Shannara was my life. I even fashioned a hobbit cape, dyed it brown, and ran through the woods barefoot. My mother thought I had lost it. Please remember, this was long, long before the movies, 1982 to be exact. Sorry, Mom, but I wish I still had that cape.
Are any of these your favorites? Are any of these on your stinker lists? What are yours? I’d love to find out, because I’m always looking for new favorites!

My memory verse this week, has really suited me because I really tend to want to isolate myself!
Proverbs 18:1 Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against sound judgement.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

First Drafts...

Image result for ugly monster

I recently completed the first draft of my new book, Paper White. Currently, it sits in the virtual world of my hard drive, waiting until I return to begin another pass and another and another. Drafts are much like layers, each one covering a different aspect of the story, or character, or arc, or... well you get the picture.

The first draft is a whirlwind of writing. For me, it amounts to nothing more than getting the story on paper. (I'm a plotter so I know where my story is going all the time, but sometimes these characters get a mind of their own and wander off on rabbit trails. Some rabbit trails are worth heading down, while others are worthless and take away from the story.) First drafts are notoriously messy creatures. They aren't pretty. They are raw and ugly, but the story is there, somewhere in the muck, we just need to mold it. (That's where the second, third, and fourth drafts come in. Only after that, can we start talking about the nitty gritty editing.)

Image result for rabbit trailAfter my first draft, the story needs to sit for a few days if not weeks. This allows my brain to disengage and be more objective with the story. I've lived in this world for the past few months. I've dreamed of this world. My thoughts need time to separate. Paper White will hang out in her little bit of  virtual space for at least a week, who knows, maybe two.

During that week, I actually try not to think much about the story. I usually plot out a new tale, read, blog or think. Us writers do a lot of thinking.

But inevitably, an issue or hole about the story will reveal itself, and I'll jot it down for when I'm ready to start the next step.

Next week, I'm diving back into Paper's world to begin my second draft.  Paper has spina bifida, and I'll be spending quite a bit of time making sure I get that aspect of her life right. I also know that I want to change some things at the beginning of the story so that they jive with the end.

When I first started writing, I so enjoyed the first draft stage. I dreaded the  second drafts, revision, editing stages. But then something flipped in my head, I realized the story improved with each pass. Soon, a beautiful book unfolds as all the different puzzle pieces fit into perfect place.

So, the question for the week... What is your favorite writing phase? Plotting, drafting, revising, editing, etc? 

Bible Verse for the week - 
Love each other deeply. Honor others more than yourself - Romans 12:10