Spotlight + Giveaway: Best. Night. Ever.

Best. Night. Ever.

By Rachele Alpine, Ronni Arno, Alison Cherry, Stephanie Faris, Jen Malone, Gail Nall, and Dee Romito

 

About the Book:

Love Actually meets Adventures in Babysitting in this hilarious novel written by seven authors about seven classmates who are preparing for a crazy night at their middle school dance.

Lynnfield Middle School is prepped and ready for a dance to remember, including an awesome performance from Heart Grenade, the all-girl band who recently won a Battle of the Bands contest. Seven classmates—Carmen, Genevieve, Tess, Ryan, Ellie, Ashlyn, and Jade—intend to make the most of the night…or at least the five of them who are able to attend do. The other two would sacrifice almost anything to be there.

One thing’s for sure—this entire crew is in for one epic night! Gail Nall, Dee Romito, Rachele Alpine, Ronni Arno, Alison Cherry, Stephanie Faris, and Jen Malone have created a charming, hilarious, and relatable novel that’s perfect for anyone who can’t wait to dance the night away.

Buy Links:

AmazonBarnes & Noble Books-A-MillionIndiebound

About the Authors:

One of Rachele Alpine’s first jobs was at a library, but it didn’t last long, because all she did was hide in the third-floor stacks and read. Now she’s a little more careful about when and where she indulges her reading habit. Rachele is a high school English teacher by day, a wife and mother by night, and a writer during any time she can find in between.  She lives in Cleveland, Ohio where she writes middle grade and young adult novels. Visit her at RacheleAlpine.com.

Ronni Arno Blaisdell is the author of Ruby Reinvented. She has written for several magazines, blogs, and websites. In a previous life she worked as a publicist in Hollywood, and eventually built a home in Maine. She is a keen SCBWI member and contributor to the KidLiterati.com blog. Visit her online at ronniarno.com.

Alison Cherry is the author of the YA novels RedFor Real and Look Both Ways, and the middle grade novels Willows vs. Wolverines and The Classy Crooks Club. She is a professional photographer and spent many years working as a lighting designer for theater, dance, and opera productions. This whole “writing books” thing is just a cover for the international crime ring she runs out of her Brooklyn apartment. (Shhh, don’t tell.) Visit her online at AlisonCherryBooks.com.

Stephanie Faris knew she wanted to be an author from a very young age. In fact, her mother often told her to stop reading so much and go outside and play with the other kids. After graduating from Middle Tennessee State University she somehow found herself working in information technology. But she never stopped writing. When she isn’t crafting fiction, Stephanie is indulging her gadget geek side by writing for online technology sites. Her work is regularly featured on the small business blogs for Intuit and Go Payment and she is a featured columnist for SmallBizTechnology.com. She lives in Nashville with her husband. Visit her online at StephanieFaris.com.

Jen Malone is a former Hollywood publicist who once spent a year traveling the world solo, met her husband on the highway (literally), and went into labor with her identical twins while on a rock star’s tour bus. These days she saves the drama for her books. Jen is also the author of the middle grade novels At Your Service and The Art of the Swap, coauthor of the You’re Invited series, and wrote the YA novels Map to the Stars and Wanderlost. You can visit her online at JenMaloneWrites.com.

Gail Nall lives in Louisville, Kentucky, with her family and more cats than necessary. She once drove a Zamboni, has camped in the snow in June, and almost got trampled in Paris. Gail is the author of the middle grade novel Breaking the Ice, the coauthor of You’re Invited and You’re Invited Too, and the author of the young adult novel Exit Stage Left. You can find her online at GailNall.com and on Twitter as @GaileCN. Visit her online at GailNall.com.

Dee Romito lives in her hometown of Buffalo, New York, where she and her family are steadily checking items off their own bucket list of adventures. You’re likely to find her at the local ice cream shop, writing at a café, or curled up on the couch with her cats. And while she does her best to be a grown-up most of the time, giggling with her BFFs is still one of her all-time favorite things. To join the fun and create your own bucket list, visit TheBFFBucketList.com.

Giveaway Contest

The Rafflecopter giveaway is for a free hardback copy of Best. Night. Ever.

Click here to enter the Best. Night. Ever Giveaway

 

Author Toolbox 4: Discover The Layers Of A Story

This post was written for the Author Toolbox Blog Hop where we share our new discoveries on the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, and blogging tips. Posted every third Wednesday of the month. For rules and sign-up click here.

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I call the writer that uses both plotting and pantsing a framer. I’m one of these people and it has made my writing life much better. It’s given me a chance to discover the layers of my story.

Plotter

I’ve already mentioned I outline (synopsis) the overall story. My thinking is simply: if I can tell the story in a coherent manner, I can sell it. Or that’s the theory. I make sure the tension rises, the plot holes are filled and all the little threads are tied up in a nice bow before I begin pantsing. The threads I leave hanging are because I like to imagine my characters carrying on. As if I popped in for an exciting part of their lives and popped out again. Who knows, maybe I’ll return at a later date.

Pantser

I break the outline into doable sections with specific directions of what needs to happen.

I let loose. The creative juices flow. They know what direction I’m going and how fast I have to get there. No doubt many of us do this part. hehehe.

It’s why we’re here, reading and learning new techniques.

Layers

During all of this I think about the layers of the story because to me there are a minimum of two. The one on top is the one the reader enjoys until they realize more is going on than just surface stuff.

I give every character an agenda. Their own goal and what they are willing to do to achieve it.

Where I start

I give several characters an overlapping background that I don’t give away so much as let them react to. For example, as kids someone’s parent ran over another’s cat and someone is not letting the memory go. Another possibility is someone was a no-show at the prom, leaving their date to go alone. When they meet again, it’s time for a confrontation.

The layers of the story is where the character connect/disconnect with each other. I like to write mysteries, so each one of my characters has motive to kill the victim. Each one of them has a reason to kill another cast member. Each one of them had opportunity and the means to kill the victim or each other.

Going Deeper

I write the underlayer before I let my creative writing loose. Then once I’ve written a few more chapters, I adapt my underlayer again and again. Until it guides me through the worse/best of them. Motivations become clear when each character has an agenda, feelings that drive them down only one road—it may be interrupted, but is never forgotten, and then I try to write the story I first outlined.

The surface may appear smooth. But like a duck, much of the action hides below the surface, churning up all kinds of fun and trouble.

Have you done this? Any tips for me?

Other links you may like:

IWSG 39: How Do You Remember It All?

This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our encouragement or insecurities on the first Wednesday of the month, to join the group or find out more click here.

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Co-Hosts:

| Christine Rains | Dolarah @ Book Lover | Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor |

| Yvonne Ventresca | LG Keltner |

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What are your pet peeves when reading/writing/editing?

When I read a book on how to write, I’m re-reading something I’ve already learned. My pet peeve: why can’t I remember all the information all the time?

I’ve read how-to books until my eyes ached. I spent hours seeking new methods, or inspiring myself by reading Top Ten First Lines, or Best First Lines or….

Not immediately recalling what I need to know seems like such a waste of time. But I’ll remind myself as necessary, because under all the non-creative parts of writing are the reasons I began to write in the first place.

Whether I remember all the mechanics of writing or not, it’s something I force myself to do. I want to be the best storyteller possible—for me at least. Doing less would just embarrass me later.

What about you, do you remember everything? How you do you keep all the facets where you need them?

Toolbox 3: Settings is more than a Stage.

 

 

This post was written for the Author Toolbox Blog Hop where we share our new discoveries on the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, and blogging tips. Posted every third Wednesday of the month. For rules and sign-up click here.

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Besides giving us place to act out a scene, a setting can add other elements as well.

Backstory:

Some places have memories. I can’t drive by the local grocery store by my family home without remembering that a hospital once was there. The place I was born. The place I played after it was demolished.

It carries feelings that have never gone away. Your characters can carry attachments too. They go to a park, swimming hole, elementary school, etc. and become overwhelmed or flashback into their past. It’s not a choice.

They remember their first kiss or their one and only marriage proposal. They remember saying goodbye to an old friend and watching them walk away forever. The place their child was born. Or the last time they went skinny dipping.

Mood or Atmosphere:

Mood could be based on the protagonist’s memories or it could be as simple as weather or a social function that sets the mood or atmosphere.

Thunderstorms set a mood: it was a dark and stormy night. And a sunny day at the beach also give us a sense of wholesome fun. Until the water rises and the little kid making the sand castle at the water’s edge can’t be found anywhere.

Family barbecue is one feeling, and a funeral is another. A group gathered around a phone waiting for a call—kidnapper, job offer, or dream date.

Things to consider when planning a scene.

Antagonist:

People are not the only antagonists on the page. A disaster could stop them from achieving their goal. To save a life, they need to cross a washed-out bridge, or fix a tire without a tire iron. A blizzard could stop them from chasing after someone—villain or soul mate.

Not only stopping the hero, but also cutting them off from help. There is no rescue or police to investigate. The hero is on their own.

Whatever the circumstance it could increase the stakes.

Concrete Details:

Smells, sights, sounds, tastes, textures, internal feelings, space, time and the unknown should all be considered. Reactions to these specific details can be more powerful than any vivid description of setting, and characters.

End Result:

It’s all about reaction. Is it the history of the place? Is it the mood that always seems to hang over it like a cloud of doom? Or is it a physical problem like a washed out river. Any of these elements could be a contributing factor as a scene plays out?

No matter where you start, consider the setting.

What does your setting do for your story?

Have any techniques that help connect your characters to their setting? Please share. I’d love to read them. 🙂

 

IWSG 38: Clarity in Writing

This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our encouragement or insecurities on the first Wednesday of the month, to join the group or find out more click here.

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Co-Hosts:

Tamara Narayan | Pat Hatt
Patricia Lynne | Juneta Key | Doreen McGettigan|

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OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question: What is one valuable lesson you’ve learned  since you started writing?

My nightmare could be summed up with these simple words: “I know what you wrote, but what do you mean?”

Clarity seems simple:

But when I was younger, and I heard this phrase, I would become incensed. How could someone—anyone—not understand what I mean? I wrote poetry and to me it was the simplest of art forms. I couldn’t paint, act, play a musical instrument, or sing. But I could put a few words down and the person would feel something.

We’d connect.

So when I wrote longer works, how did I lose my clarity?

Struggling for Eloquence:

I knew what I thought and what I wanted to say, but there were many times when I didn’t use the right word.

Over time and with the help of a few kind and patient soles, I learned how to select the right words. It wasn’t easy, and it took a fair amount of stubbornness on my part.

It turns out I’m a minimalist too:

It goes against my instincts to write so much down. What I’ve learned is first sentence is a topic sentence and there is no harm in expanding a thought with more detail.

Another thing is to let my work rest long enough for the internal movie to disappear. Then when I re-read my work I see the glaring gaps and choppy sections for myself.

I know my flaws and what to look for when doing my read through. My readers get what I mean now. Some think my writing isn’t too bad, but I still ask for help.

Beta Readers:

Sometimes I still don’t see my mistakes and my beta readers are such a blessing. It isn’t their job to guess at what I mean.

What lengths do you go to for clarify your work?

Any shortcuts you’d like to share?