Wednesday, August 31, 2011

LUW Extended Sign-up for 2011 Roundup

The League of Utah Writers has extended the deadline to sign up for this year's Roundup. To see what it's about, go to The agenda is posted. I'll be there - Hope to see you too!

~ Amy

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Outlining Worksheet

Below is the spreadsheet I use to outline and plot my scenes. I thought I'd share it, as outlining is always a hot topic at writing workshops. I like using Excel because I get a lot of scenes on one page, and can see more of the overall story. I start by outlining the first third of the book, write about seven chapters, to see if the story goes where I think it will, then I go back and finish the outline. This helps me keep organized. With my hectic schedule, I have to work as efficiently as possible.

Sect. # from # to # Character With/Against Scene Conflict/Emotion Fail/Rational New Goal/Reaction
10 N/A 30 Zoe Dance Troupe Theater - Scuzzy Zoe is auditioning with a room of people. Max is the arrogant producer. Troup adjudicating. Meets Emma. Jayden making eyes. Jackie scowling.  Zoe and Emma are the two that get offered jobs (Tom the stage mgr). Zoe lacks self confidence/ doesn't know how good she is. They are to report in one week. Will have 1 week to learn the show. Will fly to Miami to meet ship (2 weeks time)
15 10 30 Zoe Jayden/Emma Theater Jayden flirting with Zoe - not so much Emma Zoe has to go. She's got a three hour drive She's over the moon. Can't wait until training starts
20 N/A 50 Gabriel Diego/Tribe Belize Cave Ritual. Sacrifice of a goat. Gabriel does not approve. Clashes with Diego. They fight. Gabirel has a black eye. Gabe has two weeks to get over the eye. He's starting a new job (Diego on the ship too, but don't reveal it here).

Sorry it's scrunched. I had to narrow the columns to get it to fit on the blog. :-)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Rach Writes...: Third Writers' Platform-Building Campaign

Rach Writes...: Third Writers' Platform-Building Campaign: There are so many of us out there. Aspiring authors, bloggers (whether established or beginning), industry peeps, even published authors -
Rachael Harrie is sponsoring her third writing campaign. It's a wonderful opportunity to meet and connect with other writers of all levels.  JOIN THE AUTHOR'S CAMPAIGN!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Interview with Wendy Nelson Tokunaga

Esteemed Author and MFA, Wendy Nelson Tokunaga, agreed to an interview on my blog. Wendy has written a number of novels, is a freelance editor, and teaches writing classes. She was my substantive editor for Koicto, which will be released in December – I definitely recommend her if you’re looking for an editor.

Hi Wendy!

I know you went through quite a long process getting your first book contract. Can you tell us a little about your experience?

Yes, it took me a long time to get my first novel published. My “debut” novel was actually the fifth manuscript I’d written. I made lots of mistakes in the process and it was quite a learning experience. But now there’s so much info on the Internet and blogs from agents and editors telling writers clearly what they need to do in their query letters and manuscripts and I advise people to do their homework. I also feel that novelists should have their manuscripts looked at by a developmental editor or manuscript consultant who will look at things like plot, pacing, structure, character development, style, voice, etc. Critique groups are helpful to a point, but I think having your entire ms read by a qualified editor with fresh eyes will do wonders. I know this helped me!

Could you tell us about your current projects?

My agent is in the midst of shopping my current novel (not about Japan!) to publishers, but I’m already beginning work on some new projects, including a young adult novel with a Japan theme and an adult novel that might turn into some kind of thriller. :-) I’m also excited to have my work published in several forthcoming anthologies: an essay in Madonna and Me [] coming next March by Soft Skull Press; a piece in Essays for a New Generation, to be published by Macmillan and a short story in an upcoming book of Japan-related fiction to be published next year by Stone Bridge Press.

~Amy – Wow! It sounds like you’ve been busy!

I read your amazing book, Love in Translation. How did you come up with the story, and decide to write about Celeste’s experiences in Japan?

Thanks! Love in Translation is my cockeyed valentine to Japan, a place I’ve both loved and loathed for different reasons. I wanted to write this to reflect some of my experiences in Japan of being a foreigner (gaijin) but within a completely fictional story. Celeste finds herself unexpectedly in Japan looking for a long lost relative who may hold the key to the identity of the father she never knew. She finds herself falling in love with a Japanese man, another unexpected development and the book asks the question whether love can transcend culture.

Presently you have a self-published e-book out, Marriage in Translation. Would you tell us about your book, and share with us what persuaded you to take the e-book route?

Marriage in Translation: Foreign Wife, Japanese Husband consists of 14 candid interviews of Western women married to Japanese men. It started out as a series of interviews on my Japan-themed blog, which generated a lot of interest and I did look into publishing it “traditionally.” But it seemed prudent to just put out the book as soon as possible because of the demand and a traditional publisher would have taken about a year. I also wanted to keep the book relatively short and I’m not sure if a traditional publisher would have done with that. In addition, I wanted to include photographs of the interviewees and their husbands and that would have made it expensive to reproduce in print. So an e-book seemed like the best way to go and I’ve been happy with the experience. The book is currently available for Kindle (either on the Kindle e-reader or on various Kindle apps for smart phones, iPads, PCs, etc.), but hope to have it available on other digital platforms soon.

How can writers rise above the “white noise” when marketing e-books?

I self-published a novel in 2000 called No Kidding through iUniverse, which won the Mainstream/Literary Fiction category in the Writer’s Digest’s Best Self-Published Book Awards. So I was somewhat experienced with online marketing. But things are so different now and, in my opinion, there are many more opportunities now. Yes, there is a lot of white noise and competition and it’s challenging to get heard about the fray. The key is to create a platform for yourself and to not just promote your book 100% of the time. Establish who you are and offer people interesting content and information on Facebook and Twitter—not just what you ate for breakfast or how much you love your cat. :-)

What are your upcoming writing workshops?

For those people who live in the San Francisco Bay Area, I’m doing my workshop for novelists on Strong Beginnings at Book Passage in Corte Madera on September 17 []. I’m also teaching a workshop at Harbor Books in Half Moon Bay on October 15. And I hope to be teaching again next year through Stanford University’s Continuing Studies Online Writer’s Studio.

Now for the fun stuff.  Do you have any guilty pleasures or fun interests?

I don’t believe in guilty pleasures—I have no guilt about anything I enjoy doing! I love to watch Househunters International and see how people live all over the world and I also enjoy old films on Turner Classic Movies. In another life I was a musician and I enjoy singing Japanese karaoke when I have time and singing jazz standards with my husband accompanying me on piano. I also love trying new restaurants and spending time in the wine country.

Where can readers find you on the Web?

The San Francisco Chronicle called my debut novel, Midori by Moonlight, a “terrific first novel.” Now I’m back with my second book, Love in Translation, which again explores the themes of Japan and Japanese culture and being a stranger in a strange land, which have played a major role in my life and writing.

For anyone who’s ever dreamt of finding love and family in an unexpected place...

After receiving a puzzling phone call and a box full of mysteries, 33-year-old fledgling singer Celeste Duncan is off to Japan to search for a long, lost relative who could hold the key to the identity of the father she never knew. This overwhelming place where nothing is quite as it seems changes Celeste in ways she never expected, leading her to ask: What is the true meaning of family? And what does it mean to discover your own voice?  

“A delightful novel about love, identity, and what it means to be adrift in a strange land. This story of a search has an Alice in Wonderland vibe; when Celeste climbs down the rabbit hole, one can't help but follow along.”—Michelle Richmond, New York Times bestselling author of The Year of Fog 

“An amusing story of one woman's quest for her father and the improbable path of love.” —Meg Waite Clayton, author of The Wednesday Sisters

"Tokunaga... describe[s] Japanese culture in absorbing detail."--Publishers Weekly

"A delightful plot with wonderful characterizations."—Affair de Coeur Magazine 

"Four stars!" —RT Book Reviews Magazine

"Witty, lighthearted and charming story of finding love in an unexpected place."—Fresh Fiction 

Many thanks, Wendy, for spending your time on my blog! Best wishes for your continued success. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Interview With Author Liz Fichera

Today author, Liz Fichera, has agreed to an interview on my blog.  I’ve read both her novels, Craving Perfect and Captive Spirit published by Carina Press. Her next novel, Hooked, represented by agent, Holly Root, will be published by Harlequin Teen in 2013.  Liz has well developed characters and a strong voice, and I’m a big fan!

Hi Liz – Thank you for being here!

When did you start writing, and how long have you been writing?

I wrote my first story when I was 10 years old.  I wrote short stories and bits of novels for years, never thinking about it being anything more than a hobby until six years ago.

Could you tell us about the road to publication through Carina Press?

About two years ago, I saw a tweet from Executive Editor Angela James.  She tweeted about this new Harlequin imprint called Carina Press.  She also tweeted that the editors at Carina Press were hungry for historical romance novels.  I had just finished writing CAPTIVE SPIRIT and decided to query her about it.  One month later, she called to tell me they were interested in publishing it.

How about your upcoming novel, Hooked – How did you find your agent? Did you have to send out a lot of queries?

Yes, I sent out enough queries to wallpaper my office, I’m sure. J

My agent and I connected when I queried her about CRAVING PERFECT, a contemporary romance novel that I wrote before CAPTIVE SPIRIT.  While it was my first novel, it was not the first novel to sell.  That’s how things go sometimes—usually never as you expect them to go!  HOOKED is my debut Young Adult Novel with Harlequin Teen and it will become my third published novel in 2013. 

Could you tell us about your current project(s)?

I am currently working on my second contemporary young adult novel for Harlequin Teen.  I also recently completed a Young Adult paranormal fantasy with historical elements based on the life of the Apache Kid. I loved writing that novel!  It’s very different from anything I’ve written so far.
Ooo - sounds intriguing! ~ Amy

I found you because I was looking for Native American fiction. I read your amazing book, Captive Spirit. How did you come up with the story?

One of the first things I learned about the history of Phoenix, Arizona, after I moved here from Chicago was about the Hohokam Indians.  I always found it interesting that the Hohokam, a very advanced people for the time period, vanished from the Phoenix area around 1500 AD and no one really knows why, even to this day.  That little tidbit of history has always fascinated me and it’s what motivated to me write CAPTIVE SPIRIT.  The main characters in that story are Hohokam.

What scene did you have the most fun with in your new novel, Craving Perfect?

 All of them! I got the idea for CRAVING PERFECT while jogging on a treadmill at my local gym.  I guess that I’m particularly fond of writing action scenes, though.  I love writing scenes where people are forced to make decisions under less than stellar circumstances.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

 Keep writing.  Even as you consider your publishing options or slog through the painful query stage, always start writing your next book.  And your next.

Now for the fun stuff.  Do you have any guilty pleasures or fun interests?

I do love to hike and run in the desert around my house.  Most people call me crazy for doing that, especially the running part.  Sometimes I call myself crazy for doing that, especially when the temperatures soar above 100 degrees.

Name one thing readers would be surprised to know about you.

I love old Westerns and movies in black and white. 

If someone hasn't read any of your work, what book would you recommend they start with and why?

I have this habit of writing across genres, so that is a difficult question.  I would suggest starting with my first novel, CAPTIVE SPIRIT.  It’s always best to start at the beginning, right?

Liz is an author from the American Southwest.  She writes commercial fiction and young adult novels but mostly she writes stories about ordinary people who do extraordinary things.  Her latest novel CRAVING PERFECT released on July 25 from Carina Press. She is also the author of CAPTIVE SPIRIT (2010) and the upcoming HOOKED (Harlequin Teen, 2013).  Don't hesitate to drop by her web site or blog to connect!
Thanks for being a guest, Liz! 
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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

WriteOnCon - Online Writers Conference

Writers - If you get a chance, check out the online writer's conference on It is awesome, with ongoing advice from writers and agents. The fun continues through August 18th!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

What Chair Do You Write In?

The chair on the top left is the chair I sat in to write two novels, KOICTO and CHIHUAHUA MOMMA, but my future novels will be written in style! My super wonderful husband bought me the beautiful leather chair on the bottom left for my Birthday.

This makes me think how important it is to work in a chair that is comfortable and functional. Also important is lower back support to prevent slouching and poor posture.

A friend in my critique group doesn't use a chair at all. She has a mattress on the floor in her office where she locks herself in to write.

What's your favorite place to write?
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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

CHIHUAHUA MOMMA First Chapter Posted

I've posted my first chapter of my new MS, CHIHUAHUA MOMMA. It's on the right panel under "Pages," or you can click on the link below. I would love your feedback!