Listening to Your Intuition

In the beginning of July, I received an email from a fan named Kerri. Immediately, I thought of my childhood best friend with the same name, even spelled the same way! I knew it wasn’t the same girl I once counted as a sister, but my heart began pounding out of my chest, and I didn’t ‘think’ . . . maybe I need to find her today? I KNEW! Granted, I’d tried many times to search for her online but to no avail. I hadn’t had any contact with her since I married in 1998. Her last name was different. I had no idea where she lived. Make a looong story short, I paid one of those stalker sites a dollar that EVENTUALLY led me to finding my long-lost friend that day. Her mom, who might as well have been my mom from fourth to eighth grade, died the day before, too young at the age of 57. Was the immediacy I felt at the need to find her THAT particular day a coincidence?

Kerri and I reunited at her mom's memorial

Kerri and I reunited at her mom’s memorial

So what does this have to with writing?

On July 23rd, I received an email with my first round of edits for the last novel in my 18 Things trilogy. She had this to say about my ending:

“Then the epilogue happens. I’ve never been so angry and confused and bipolar in my emotions as what this ending gave to me. NOT in a good way. I edited this AS I READ IT for the first time. That was my immediate, instinctual reaction. If this were a finished, completed MS that I’d picked up and were reading to review for enjoyment, the rating/review would not be positive.”

krystal and me

My editor and me at the UtopYA2014 conference ❤

*deep breaths*

Between a family drama and health problems, I had to let this one simmer a couple of weeks because I wasn’t sure how to respond. But when I finally returned to her comments, I realized she was right. Sometimes the gruffest critiques can be the best. They make you evaluate what YOU really want as an author and go from there (a wise CP reminded me of that). And I realized the ending I, THE AUTHOR, wanted all along, wasn’t the right one . . . neither was the one my editor hoped for. Like my first two books, it may be an ending that hardly anyone expects. I know I didn’t!

But like my 14yo daughter said, “Well, Mom, you pulled total surprise endings in your first two books . . . don’t you think it’s only fitting your characters do the same thing to you for the final book?”

Still, I was flipping out . . . BUT THIS WASN’T WHAT I PLANNED?! WHAT DO I DO?!?! I should note that I never ‘planned’ to write an epilogue either. My characters had already surprised me with an extra I didn’t expect. But this time around, I was leaning toward cutting the epilogue completely, and the final chapter was one I hadn’t thought of until mulling things over after my editor’s email.

I was at a crossroads. And like so many other times in life, I followed my intuition. Never would I have ‘planned’ my ending this way, but I know . . . not think, not hope, not pray . . . I KNOW it’s the right one. Funny thing was, when I went back and examined some things in 18 Truths, it’s like my subconscious knew this ending was coming all along. Just took me a while to catch on!

Do you find yourself immediately listening to that little voice nudging inside of you, or does it take a few wrong tries before you realize your intuition was somehow right all along?

This has been a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, the brainchild of Head Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh. We post the first Wednesday of every month, so feel free to join us if you need support or would like to give some encouragement! We’ve been going for three years strong now!

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Are Two Better Than One?

Four years ago, I got the chance to attend RWA Nationals after the venue moved from Nashville to Orlando due to unfortunate flooding. To save money, I planned on staying with a friend who lived forty minutes away from the Disney Swan & Dolphin Hotel, where the conference was held. Then I discovered Marisa Cleveland, a buddy who I’d met three months earlier at my local RWA chapter meeting, had a room in the hotel all to herself. Being the Reigning Queen of Awkward Situations, I crashed her room & took the couch. Little did I know Marisa was a natural introvert & too terrified of me to say no.

Risa & me at RWA Nationals

Risa & me at RWA Nationals

That’s how a beautiful friendship was born 🙂 Now that I’m done with writing my 18 Things trilogy, I’m forcing her into another situation that seems just as counterintuitive to sharing your hotel room with a stranger. Cowriting a novel! Authors are known for being control-freak Jedi masters of our fictional universes. That’s why when I attended utopYA2014, I made sure I attended the panel with Melissa Pearl & the mom and son author duo C.A. Kunz. Here are some of my notes in case, like me, you think cowriting could be a fun, refreshing process that yields a unique story.

TIPS:

Pick someone who is at similar points in terms of both their craft and career & treat each other as equals.

Be honest if there’s something you don’t like. We take criticism personally, but that has to take a back burner in the interest of writing the best story possible.

Make sure you know the other person’s writing style well so the reader doesn’t feel pulled out of the story with two very different tones-different than having two distinct voices, which can work very well because that can be attributed to the characters.

CHALLENGES:

If one person is waiting to hear back for next chapter, but their co-author is too busy and is left waiting when they are ready to move on with the story, it can cause friction. Make sure to set up a writing schedule & stick to it!  Equal commitment & a compatible writing pace is a must. Also helpful are similar tastes. For instance, do you bond over the same books, movies, music, and celebrities (like drool swoon-worthy Theo James)? That’s a good start.

 

Seriously, Jamie? This is getting ridiculous. I will let you touch my bicep if you leave me alone.

Seriously, Jamie? This is getting ridiculous. I will let you touch my bicep if you leave me alone.

Good idea to pick a person who has a final say in different areas, like grammar, fine-tuning of the plot, and research details. It’s like a choose your own adventure story! If you get stuck, have a bowl with worst case scenarios and pull one out & have that happen to your character.

If you are discussing something serious with the book, do it in person or Skype so your partner doesn’t misread what you’re saying. Email, text, or phone call at least once a day to ensure continuity and the development of a solid story arc, especially as you work toward the finale.

Have you ever thought about working with a partner? What do you think the pros and cons would be?

P.S. Speaking on Cons, I didn’t get the coveted tickets for the “Open At the Close” event at LeakyCon in Orlando on July 30th since they sold out in 5 minutes. If you dress up as a creepy/scary clown in your spare time, or know someone who does, please message me. I’m looking to hire one to chase a ticket holder around until they fork over their pass. Thanks for your help in this matter.

scary clown

 

IWSG-Beta Readers

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I’m sitting here tonight, anxious. April 15th wasn’t just tax day for me, it was the day I sent the last installment of my YA trilogy, 18 Thoughts, to my Beta Readers and critique partners. Three weeks later, I still haven’t heard anything. They all have busy lives and since I didn’t ask to have it back for another three weeks, I’m trying to keep those old insecurities from popping up again. But I’ve also read sooo many trilogies where I LOVED the first and second book, and then hated the third one, so sending this novel to other people who also love my characters was difficult this time around. But I know the only way to move beyond fear is to go through it, so I eventually turned it over . . . even though the ending I planned for the series two years ago when I started totally changed in the last three chapters!!! My 13yo daughter said since I pulled major plot twists at the end of 18 Things and 18 Truths, karma said my characters had to pull one on me in the last book! What can I say? Never underestimate the power of the “holy crap” moment. So I’m trusting what happened with the story was meant to happen all along and holding onto faith that I believe in what my characters told me, even while doubting myself. In the meantime, let’s hope I still have some nails left by the time my readers get back to me!

In other news, I was super excited to see Hot Topic carrying The Fault In Our Stars tees when I took my daughters to the mall this past weekend! I picked up these two to share with the 13yo . . . she’s much smaller than me but she hates tight clothing (praise the Lord!)

TFIOS shirts

 

I’m rereading the book now in preparation for the movie release on June 6th! Speaking of movies, I surprisingly made it to the theater twice this past week. First time was to see The Other Woman with my small group Bible study ladies. All I can say is HILARIOUS! I was afraid it’d be one of those chick flicks where the funniest parts were in the commercials, but not true at all. Definitely worth seeing. LOL funny. The other movie was a prescreening of The Neighbors. I went with hubs when he got tickets through his work. Bonus points for keeping Zac Efron shirtless for most of the movie but Seth Rogen and the Australian lady who played his wife (don’t know her name & I’m too lazy to Google it, even though the time it’d take to do so is probably equal to typing this . . . what can I say? I’m complicated) really carried the movie. Still, the film was too raunchy for my tastes, but it was free so I guess no money lost. And hubs took me to Tijuana Flats for dinner first . . . yes, it was Cinco de Mayo a day late, but who can beat their Taco Tuesday deal?!

What we did celebrate on May 5th was Revenge of the Fifth, the sequel to May the Fourth Be With You. All you fellow Star Wars nerds know what I’m talking about! Here’s a little pic of our celebration:

May 4th

So that’s what’s going in my world! What’s new with you? Don’t forget to thank a teacher this week–it’s National Teacher Appreciation Week! And don’t forget to visit other peeps in the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, the brainchild of Head Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh.

Something Like Awesome . . .

Trish Doller Trish Doller  writes books (her website says so), but you find those in the doller bin where she works at B&N as a bookseller. Hahaha! Sorry, but you know I can’t resist a corny joke. For the record, her last name isn’t pronounced like dollar, and you should know this because there’s no doubt in my mind you’ll become her biggest fan if you pick up one of her books. I just finished Where the Stars Still Shine a few weeks ago, and it was so awesome, I emailed her right away to see if I could get an exclusive interview. Everybody give it up for Trish, woot woot!!

Tell us a little bit about Where the Stars Still Shine. What was the catalyst for this particular novel?
Stars began with a trip to Tarpon Springs, which is a small tourist town on the Gulf coast of Florida. There’s a significant Greek-American culture there and a lot of the tourist attractions revolve around Greek food and the sponge diving industry. So while I was walking around the tourist area, I started thinking what it would be like to be dropped into that town and expected to be Greek. And when I started thinking about who I might drop into Tarpon Springs, Callie’s character started coming to life.
How long have you wanted to write? Are you a plotter or a pantster?
I’ve been writing for as long as I’ve been able to write, but I didn’t write with an intent to be published until about 2006 when I had an idea that wouldn’t let me go. I tend to be a pantser when I write, but I do have a rough plot in my head. I know the direction I want the story to go and then I let the characters take me there.

 

Tell us about your publishing journey. How has the experience been so far?

something like normal
My publishing journey started in early 2008 when my agent sold my first book to Random House. I was working on revisions when my editor was laid off. My new editor wasn’t in love with the book so my contract was cancelled and that book was never published. While we were on submission again, I started working on the book that would become Something Like Normal and after sending the first few chapters to my agent, she decided to submit it to a few of her favorite editors. Bloomsbury bought it and the rest is pretty much history. Bloomsbury bought Where the Stars Still Shine and they’ve also bought my upcoming book, which is still untitled. I’ve been really happy with my experience. Both of my books are doing well and I’m always thrilled to hear from teenagers who love them.  where stars still shine

 

 

Were you ever tempted to censor yourself when writing this novel, especially in the famous chapter twelve?
I think I had moments when I worried that maybe I’d gone too far, but it was more important that Callie learn what a healthy sexual experience looks like. And I think there’s a positive message for all girls that sex doesn’t have to be shameful and that a good partner considers your needs as well as his own. As a parent, I know that’s a really uncomfortable thing to talk about with girls. We don’t like to think about our daughters as sexual beings. But I’d rather take the heat for writing a scene that’s “too sexy” than not talk about these things.

 

Tell us what you’re working on now. Will there ever be another story featuring Callie and Alex . . . at least a short story or novella showing us what happens to them five or ten years down the road? *gets down on hands and knees and begs with hands folded in prayer*
My next book is a sexy (because this is me) psychological thriller about a girl who takes a dangerous road trip with two boys—one of whom is not what he seems. It’s still untitled but it will be coming out in either June or July 2015. I’m also working on a full-fledged adult novel about a young woman who goes to sea in an effort to get over her boyfriend’s suicide. That one is just a manuscript right now—no book deals to report—but I’m really excited to write that one. And as of right now, I don’t have anything planned for Alex and Callie, but they might make a cameo appearance in my next planned YA novel.

Oh, I love the sound of that idea!! Thanks so much for stopping by, Trish! Be sure to check out both of her A*W*E*S*O*M*E novels!! What’s everyone else been up to? See Divergent yet? I saw it twice already, and when I finish writing 18 Thoughts (over 70,000 words now!), I plan on celebrating by seeing it again. I’m swooning over Theo James (Four), especially after I found out he’s a musician too. Check out this adorable video of him singing (I think I just got pregnant watching it).

 

Truth or LIES?

To celebrate the release of the second installment in my 18 Things trilogy, 18 Truths, I’m hosting a blogfest! On top of that, you have the chance to win one of 18 wonderful prizes donated by 18 terrific people (* LOOK TO THE RIGHT, TO THE RIGHT >>TO ENTER . . . as a free wordpress site, this was the best I could do to host a Rafflecopter–does anybody know a better way?!)

Okay, then! Let’s get this party started! If you don’t know what 18 Truths is about, here’s a little sneak preview:

Now, here are the dets for the blogfest! Each person participating will post 2 Truths and 1 Lie about themselves sometime between today and Jan. 27th. People hop around and try to guess the lie! Players will reveal their Lie on my release day, January 28th!

truth

1) I met my husband when I was 14, heard a voice in my head that said I would marry him one day, then actually married him when I was 18 years old.

2) I’ve been on two international mission trips and on one in Jamaica, I randomly met Queen Latifah, and then met Chris O’Donnell in Ireland on the other one.

3) This is my 13th year teaching public school, and I once had to save a child’s life who was choking on a mint in my classroom.

Okay, guys, Can You Handle The Truth *says in best impression of Jack Nicholson & doesn’t come even close* Please guess the lie in the comments below! And if you’re not playing yet, it’s not too late to join the party . . . You have until Jan. 28th! The Linky Link is below & don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter at the top ^ of the page!

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Can You Handle The TRUTH Blogfest (Kinda) Signup!

18 Truths  (click to add to your Goodreads shelf!) is coming in 13 days. Can you believe it? Almost a year has gone by since 18 Things released, the first installment of the trilogy, and it really is scary how time flies! But I’m so excited for readers to go on a new adventure with Olga!

I have a one week blogfest planned with lots of giveaways and then blog tour posts planned from January 27th through February 17th! (Full tour info to come . . . with 18 stops of course, and contest giveaways list is at the bottom of this post.)

Beginning January 22nd until release day, January 28th–I’ll be hosting the Can You Handle The Truth Blogfest. This is something anyone, anywhere can participate in.

truth

All you have to do is post a blog centering around the classic Two Truths and a Lie get-to-know-you game.

Players tell two truths and one lie. The object of the game is to hop around the blogs and determine which statement that each blogger posted is the false one.

I hope everyone who plays the Can You Handle The TRUTH? blogfest between January 22nd-28th will enter the Rafflecopter (and maybe post it on their own site) to win a number of prizes donated by 18 terrific people, including:

1) Jamie Ayres–18 Truths paperback + swag

2) Mara Valderran–Heirs of War ebook + swag

3) Eliza Tilton–Broken Forest ebook

4) Tara Tyler–query critique

5) Alex Cavanaugh–Cassa ebook

6) Ayden Morgen–ebook for Fade and Fall

7) Lynn Jake–journals

8) T.F. Walsh–Cloaked In Fur ebook

9) Sharon Bayliss–print copy of The Charge + critique of query and first chapter

10) Katie Hamstead–ebook of Kiya

11) Michelle Ziegler–homemade granola and bookmarks

12) Elizabeth Johnson–Moonflower ebook

13) Lindsey Loucks–signed bookmarks

14) Krystal Wade–ebook of Wilde’s Fire

15) Teshelle Combs–1 copy of Core (paperback) and 1 ebook copy of Core

16) Krista Rausin–2 copies of Mystic paperbacks

17) PK Hrezo–Butterman Time Travel ebook

18) Jessa Russo–Ever ebook

This is just my way of saying THANK YOU to all you wonderful peeps out there (like allll those peeps who donated–I’m blown away by their support!)

I can’t wait to visit each blog and read your entries! I’ve seen this question done before in author interviews & have used it in my classroom for years as an icebreaker, & it always provides lots of laughs!

Now to the (Kinda) part of this post: Don’t blog? Put the cover of 18 Truths or the blogfest badge ^ from above up on your FB wall and post your 2 Truths & a Lie under the photo, or pin it on Pinterest with your 3 statements in the comments, or tweet them.

Bloggers, sign up NOW for the blogfest in the LinkyTool below (and make sure you grab the 18 Truths badge to put on your blog and please link back to this site whenever you post). Let’s get this party started!

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18 THINGS IS HERE!!!

Jennifer Eaton reminded me that in all my excitement for release day, I neglected to post a new blog. I updated last week’s post, but forgot that wouldn’t send out new notifications to my followers! DOH! *smacks forehead*

So . . . Amazon Kindle links are live to purchase 18 Things! And for print! Or for your Nook. Yay–Happy Book Birthday to me:-) Thanks for your support! I also did a guest post on my editor’s blog today!

Here is a sample tweet for all your busy peeps who like to copy and paste:

18 Things by Jamie Ayres now available!! If you like YA love stories that inspire and are geek friendly, check it out: http://www.amazon.com/18-Things-ebook/dp/B00B53VJ38/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1359069761&sr=8-1&keywords=18+things+by+jamie+ayres …

Even if you’re not buying, please hit the “Like” button under the title on Amazon to give it a boost! You can also add it to your Goodreads.

I hope you enjoy 18 Things if you do check it out and will recommend 18 Things to others. If you don’t love it, please feel free to share your thoughts with me through email. Constructive criticism is always welcome, and I want the sequel, 18 Truths, to be even better:-)

I will update this post with the full tour info ASAP, and here is the post for the blogfest incase you’re still hopping away or looking to claim your prize. I had 50 people participate, and I have 18 stops booked for the blog tour, which goes through the end of February *squeeee*

Cheers and Happy Reading~Jamie

18 Things cover print sample