Monday, December 31, 2012

On Accepting e-Books into Your Life

I admit it, I was so against e-books. I was of the "I will NEVER never ever buy or read an e-book camp. What betrayal to 'real' books!" But then...I did read an e-book. And shhhh...I LOVED it. Shhhh.

There's always that gateway e-book that drags you down into the e-book world, I suppose. And for me it was Jenny Han's The Summer I Turned Pretty, which I had been wanting to read for ages and happened to be on sale on Kindle one day. And with my shiny new iPad and Kindle app and no e-books, I thought, fine. I'll try it. But I won't like it.

But I was wrong. I was so, so wrong. Because the truth is, e-books are awesome. If you haven't given e-books a try, I encourage you to do so.

10 reasons you should read e-Books:

1. They're so convenient
If you're like me, you wish you could have a book with you at all times. Well you can. You can read your e-books on the go wherever you are. On your iPad or e-reader, on your laptop, even on your smartphone. So. Convenient.

2. They travel well
If you're going on a trip--packing 10 books in your suitcase vs. storing 100 on your iPad or other e-reader? No contest. Save the luggage space and pack more shoes. ;)

3. They're the wave of the future
Author Nathan Bransford has done an awesome poll the last few years asking people if they'll ever buy mostly e-books. And, not surprisingly, the number of people accepting e-books has been increasing every year. Embrace the change.

4. They're interactive
E-books have lots of cool features. There are usually web and twitter links to the author's pages at the end of the book, which enables you to easily learn more and interact with the author. You can also highlight a word and have instant in-app access to the definition. Pretty sweet.

5. They're searchable
Looking for a particular quote, character, or word? You can easily search and find a list of the pages with what you're looking for.

6. You can highlight and not feel guilty
I never highlight in print novels, but with e-books, I don't feel bad about it at all. I like flagging my favorite lines and funny things the characters say. And it's also really cool to see what other people have highlighted in the Kindle version of the book.

7. They're cheaper
Because you don't have those printing and distribution costs, e-books tend to be cheaper so you can buy and read even more of them on a budget! And there are always insane deals on Amazon where you can get e-books for $1.99. Everyone loves a great deal.

8. There are new cool features emerging
There are so many different possibilities with e-books, from making them truly interactive, where the reader chooses what decisions the character makes and the story comes out differently, to adding interactive media, to apps that allow authors to sign e-books. As e-books become even more mainstream, more features will continue to emerge.

9. They still support the author just like a "real" book
Buying an e-book still gives money to an author, just as buying the print version does. As long as you're not pirating the book, you're still supporting the author and letting them continue to write and bring you more books.

10. You can always buy the original print version too--at least for now!
If you really love the book that much and feel the need to have it sitting on your shelf, you still can! Hopefully e-books will just be a complement to traditional print books, because many people who love e-books still appreciate holding a real book in their hands too. Either way, I don't think traditional books are going away completely any time soon.

*11. Bonus 11th! Free public domain books!
You can read your heart out by downloading free classics in the public domain. :) Search Free Kindle public domain books: Here. Oh and there's always other random free books in the Kindle store too.

Happy e-reading!

Have you embraced e-books in your life? Do you love them or still hate them?

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Writer's Guide to Beta Readers: Part 1

A smiley face from Beta Reader Megan!
What are beta readers? Why do you need them? What should you ask them? My Guide to Beta Readers posts will cover all of these important topics for writers.

First of all, what is a beta reader? They can be a member of a writing group or critique partner, a friend, family member, acquaintance, basically anyone who will read an early version of your book and provide you with honest and critical feedback. The point of betas is not to just tell you how awesome you are--although the encouragement they can provide is also helpful for beginning writers. The point of betas is to help you make your book stronger. They can point out to you all the things you can't see about your book because you're too close to it. The best betas will give you honest feedback and comments on things you can improve and also hopefully some encouragement to keep you going!

I love this quote from author Angela Ackerman regarding betas/critique partners: "You want them to love it and say it’s great, but what you NEED is for them to point out the problems." Nothing could be more true about the beta process, which is why it is so important you have betas that are absolutely committed to being honest with you. Brutally honest (hopefully not in a brutal way though--no need to kill dreams!)

There are always a lot of "Do I need a beta reader?" questions out there. My take is definitely. Here's why I think they're the best and you should get some too:

Why they're the best

I happen to have some of the best beta readers ever and I am so thankful for all of their feedback. The great thing is they all bring a different perspective to my book, but each one is still so helpful and committed. I've got some writer friends, some reader friends, some other friends, some family, and also some critique partners and authors to give me feedback, which makes for a great mix of advice!

I must say though that my favorite (read: most hilarious) comments come from Megan, one of my best friends and my former college roomie--she basically knows me better than I know myself. Megan tells it how it is and is so blunt with the characters. For example, in one scene, character A is reflecting on how many times character B has saved her life. Megan, however, jumped in and said "Oh no, B. Questionable. I'll give you credit for one life saving, but not two. The other one totally doesn't count." Comments like these are really funny when they are addressed to the characters and they have Megan's enthusiasm for the book and the characters all over them. It also makes it much more fun to read through and revise because I get all her sidebars.

ALL of my beta readers have been incredibly helpful in pointing out all the things I thought I said (but didn't) and helping me make my book what I intended for it to be in the first place. Then there are also those great suggestions and new ideas that make it even better than it was before. I really couldn't do it without their help! So that's why I definitely recommend you get some beta readers of your own.

If you're ready to dive in, check out this post on the Pub(lishing) Crawl blog on Finding a Critique Parner!

Check back for part 2 of my beta readers series where I'll post a list of the questions I gave to my beta readers to help guide their critique.

Have you gotten feedback from a beta reader or been a beta reader before? What did you find helpful? Any other tips for writers and beta readers?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Writing Inspiration On Pinterest

I love Pinterest. Gorgeous pictures on the visual social media pinboard inspire everything from recipes to fashion to travel destinations. Lately I've noticed many authors (including me!) use Pinterest for writing inspiration.

The awesome people at YA Highway have even compiled a list of authors on PinterestIt's fun to see what they're pinning and get hints at future books. And I would be remiss if I didn't point out the incredibly gorgeous and constantly updated boards of Jessica Khoury. You will seriously want to repin everything she pins.

When I saw Jessica's pin boards, I immediately made general story boards of my own. I figured they might come in handy for future projects when I wanted character inspiration. What I didn't realize was that I would go to them time and again for my current WIP (work in progress)! Scrolling through the faces of people I thought would make interesting characters and finding ones that match my vision of characters in my book has been such a great resource. I've added a few characters in revisions and changed some features of others, necessitating adding to my visual inspiration board for the project. It's so cool to refer to a picture while writing and see "your character" in various situations and making different expressions.

Characters aren't the only inspiration you'll find on Pinterest. Pictures of how your character might dress, the house they live in, the decor of their bedroom, where certain scenes take place, and much more are at your fingertips and ready to be pinned to inspiration boards.

Pinterest is the writer's playground for inspiration. Whenever I need a quick writing break, it's the first place I go. It lets me recharge and gives me an instant burst of creativity. As Jessica said in a recent tweet"All it takes to launch a new story idea is a single, powerful image."

So what are you waiting for? Go get pinning! Just file it under "book research time." ;)

Do you use Pinterest for writing inspiration? What boards do you follow for story inspiration? I'd love your recommendations! Don't forget to follow me on Pinterest here!

Happy pinning & writing!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

"Katie O'Shea Books" Writing Blog on Pinterest!

What is Pinterest? (A quick lesson for those not yet in the know) :)
"Pinterest is a Virtual Pinboard. Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes."

And now people use Pinterest to showcase their blog in visual form! (Or at least I am).

After reading some cool Pinterest articles about people using the site for new things, (check out my new Pinterest board "Read Me Now or Later" for examples) such as creating boards to save articles they want to read (hence the above), or even creating digital Pinterest resumes, (Seriously! How cool!) I decided to do some creative Pinterest/Blog crossover-ing of my own.

So I created a board on Pinterest just for this blog where I will pin all of my blog posts for your easy viewing pleasure. It will be a fun way to check out the blog in a neat visual form and easily see what posts I've written about and you can re-pin them to share with your friends too! I hope you like the new idea!

Leave me a comment below on what you'd like to see on the blog/Pinterest board and any cool ways you've been using Pinterest!

Also since this is a Pinterest-themed post, I simply must give a shout-out to "Pinspirational" author Jessica Khoury (her debut YA book ORIGIN comes out in September!) for amazing use of Pinterest. Check out her awesome boards, such as "Characters in Want of Story" and "Have Setting. Insert Story." for some truly inspiring pins that led to my own new boards "Quite the Character" and "Stories Happen Here." She also had the great idea of using Pinterest to have people submit entries for an ARC (Advanced Reading Copy) giveaway on her blog where they repinned one of her pins and added a short story. Very creative! 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Summer Reading List Part 1!

Now that the dreaded 1L (first year of law school) has finished up and I'm officially on summer break (hooray!!!!), it's time to read as many books as I can get my hands on! There are so many books I've been waiting to read that have finally come out (Insurgent for one!) and then there are some that have been on my to-read list that were put on the side during finals and the editing process of my book so I'm so excited to have some time to read them now! But I need MORE book recommendations from YOU! Let me know below in the comments what books you've read that you loved and what's on your summer reading list!

In no particular order (because I still haven't decided which to read when) my summer reading list thus far:

Title: Insurgent

Author: Veronica Roth
Genre: YA--Fantasy
Release Date: May 1, 2012
Series: 2nd in series
Publisher: HarperTeen
How I Got the Book: Bought
GoodReads Description: "One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so."


Why It's On the List: Veronica Roth's debut book Divergent was one of my absolute favorite books of last year and boy did it end with a bang. I've recommended it to tons of friends who have also loved it (and then hated me for making them read it before the next book was out). So I've been so excited to read the sequel which came out last week during finals. Ever since it arrived on my doorstep I've been dying to open it up and now that final are done I finally have the chance.

Title: Zoe Letting Go

Author: Nora Price
Genre: YA--Fiction, Social
Release Date: June 28, 2012
Series: No
Publisher: Razorbill
How I Got the Book: ARC from Nora Price
GoodReads Description: "A girl's letters to her best friend reveal two lives derailed by anorexia in this haunting debut that's Wintergirls meets The Sixth Sense

It's not a hospital, a spa, or an institution. That's what they told me--that's what the brochures promised.

But no matter what the brochures promised, Zoe finds that Twin Birch is a place for girls with a penchant for harming themselves. Through journal entries and letters to her best friend, Elise, she tries to understand why she was brought there, and how she could possibly belong in a place like this. But Zoe's letters to Elise remain unanswered. She wonders why her best friend would cut her off without a word, reliving memory after memory of their beautiful, rocky, inescapable friendship. But everyone has secrets--including Zoe--and as her own fragile mental state hangs in the balance, she must finally learn to come to terms with what happened to Elise before she's able to let go."

Why It's On the List: I first heard about Zoe Letting Go on author Nova Ren Suma's blog as part of her 2012 YA Debut Interview Series and was immediately interested in reading the book. I tweeted author Nora Price to tell her how excited I was to read it and in a wonderful surprise she tweeted me asking if I'd like an ARC (Advance Reader's Copy). Of course I said yes and I'm so excited to get to read it even before it comes out this summer!

Title: City of Lost Souls

Author: Cassandra Clare
Genre: YA--Fantasy
Release Date: May 8, 2012
Series: 5th in series
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
How I Got the Book: Bought
GoodReads Description: "The demon Lilith has been destroyed and Jace has been freed from her captivity. But when the Shadowhunters arrive to rescue him, they find only blood and broken glass. Not only is the boy Clary loves missing–but so is the boy she hates, Sebastian, the son of her father Valentine: a son determined to succeed where their father failed, and bring the Shadowhunters to their knees.

No magic the Clave can summon can locate either boy, but Jace cannot stay away—not from Clary. When they meet again Clary discovers the horror Lilith’s dying magic has wrought—Jace is no longer the boy she loved. He and Sebastian are now bound to each other, and Jace has become what he most feared: a true servant of Valentine’s evil. The Clave is determined to destroy Sebastian, but there is no way to harm one boy without destroying the other. Will the Shadowhunters hesitate to kill one of their own?

Only a small band of Clary and Jace’s friends and family believe that Jace can still be saved — and that the fate of the Shadowhunters’ future may hinge on that salvation. They must defy the Clave and strike out on their own. Alec, Magnus, Simon and Isabelle must work together to save Jace: bargaining with the sinister Faerie Queen, contemplating deals with demons, and turning at last to the Iron Sisters, the reclusive and merciless weapons makers for the Shadowhunters, who tell them that no weapon on this earth can sever the bond between Sebastian and Jace. Their only chance of cutting Jace free is to challenge Heaven and Hell — a risk that could claim any, or all, of their lives.

And they must do it without Clary. For Clary has gone into the heart of darkness, to play a dangerous game utterly alone. The price of losing the game is not just her own life, but Jace’s soul. She’s willing to do anything for Jace, but can she even still trust him? Or is he truly lost? What price is too high to pay, even for love?"


Why It's On the List: I've loved this series since the first book and the last one ended at such a cliffhanger. I'm so excited this one is finally out--just in time for summer! I can't wait to read what happens next!

Title: Boy Meets Boy

Author: David Levithan
Genre: YA Fiction--Romance
Release Date: September 9, 2003
Series: No
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
How I Got the Book: To-purchase
GoodReads Description: "This is the story of Paul, a sophomore at a high school like no other: The cheerleaders ride Harleys, the homecoming queen used to be a guy named Daryl (she now prefers Infinite Darlene and is also the star quarterback), and the gay-straight alliance was formed to help the straight kids learn how to dance. 

When Paul meets Noah, he thinks he’s found the one his heart is made for. Until he blows it. The school bookie says the odds are 12-to-1 against him getting Noah back, but Paul’s not giving up without playing his love really loud. His best friend Joni might be drifting away, his other best friend Tony might be dealing with ultra-religious parents, and his ex-boyfriend Kyle might not be going away anytime soon, but sometimes everything needs to fall apart before it can really fit together right.

This is a happy-meaningful romantic comedy about finding love, losing love, and doing what it takes to get love back in a crazy-wonderful world."

Why It's On the List: Because there should be more books with gay main characters and I've been dying to read David Levithan so I figured I should start with his first book!

Title: Clockwork Prince

Author: Cassandra Clare
Genre: YA--Fantasy
Release Date: December 6, 2011
Series: 2nd in spin-off series of The Mortal Instruments
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
How I Got the Book: Bought
GoodReads Description: "In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa's powers for his own dark ends.
With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister's war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move and that one of their own has betrayed them.
Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, though her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will; the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do?
As their dangerous search for the Magister and the truth leads the friends into peril, Tessa learns that when love and lies are mixed, they can corrupt even the purest heart."

Why It's On the List: Victorian London. British accents/people. ;) And because for those who love the Mortal Instruments series it's a cool look into the past to see what happened before the series. It's a really cool setting and is very well done. I've been looking forward to reading this ever since it came out and I don't know how I haven't already!

By Wikibooks_misscover.svg: *Gray_book.png: gingercoons PD-icon.svg: Various. See log. (Original SVG was based on File:PD-icon.png by Duesentrieb, which was based on Image:Red copyright.png by Rfl.) derivative work: Jon C (talk ) derivative work: Pixel Pixel - derivative work: Marek M (Wikibooks_misscover.svg;) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

You tell ME! What else should I read this summer? What's on your summer reading list? Please share below in the comments!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Why You Should Fail

You should fail because it will all work out in the end. You just have to keep going.

I think everyone needs a bit of adversity in their life. To be able to say they've failed. And failed. And failed. Because it is the people that try one more time that are the ones that will succeed in the end.

Everyone should have something that they fight for. Something they care enough about to fight for. Something that they would risk everything for. Something that they maybe fail at first but keep fighting for. Because for every time you fail, someone else does too. But the difference is, you have to want it badly enough to pick yourself up again and keep fighting for it. And harder than before, because for every time you fail maybe someone else fails too. Maybe they don't keep going. Maybe they quit. Maybe that brings you one step closer to succeeding. But if you're the one to quit you'll never know. And you'll definitely never be the one to succeed.

So here's to everyone that fails. Here's to those that fail again. And here's to those that will always keep failing because it means you'll always keep trying. And one day the ones that will risk it all and fail the most will be the ones to succeed.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Dare Greatly: Putting Your Book Out in the World

I don’t think anything makes you more crazy than writing a novel. In what other profession would it be acceptable and encouraged for you to be hearing voices in your head from your characters—encouraging them to talk to you? In what other job do you try to create and temporarily live in some other world? When writing a novel you go through this intensely personal experience for months or years, pouring words onto the page and crafting each word, each sentence, each page into something that you hope is great…or at least okay. The entire process drives you crazy. You don’t want to write maybe because it’s agony, but the even worse agony is not writing.

And then one day you realize that the time has come. Your novel is “done.” Or done for now. It’s time to let someone else read it and give you feedback. It’s time for it to go out into the world.

So you read it over one last time, making sure everything is how you want it—making sure you even like it at all. And this reading confirms it—you love it, you absolutely love it. You’re so proud of what you’ve done, that you’ve accomplished this. That you have just written—gasp—a book! So you go and have it printed up and you give it to those initial few close and trusted Beta Readers. You’re so excited for them to read it! You’ve been waiting months for this very moment!

But then when one of them says they’re about to start reading the first chapter, somehow the whole illusion shatters. “Wait!” you think. “Wait, you’re really going to do it? Now?” and suddenly, you’ve never been more unsure of yourself. "Oh gosh! It’s so horrible. Don’t read it," you think. "They're going to hate it, just hate it. They’re going to tell me it’s the worst thing ever and it doesn’t have any chance at ever being published!" And then what will all of those last few months of writing have been for?

The vulnerability and the doubt wash in, more powerful than ever, and leave you feeling like all you want to do is throw up. You sit anxiously by the phone, waiting for your Beta Readers to call--because surely they’ve read the first chapter by now and don’t they have something to say about it? Oh gosh, they probably haven’t called because it’s so bad and they don’t know how to break it to you. Don’t quit your day job they’re secretly thinking as you check to make sure you have reception for the hundredth time.

It’s incredibly hard to create something, to spend all the time and effort working on it. But it’s even harder to share it with the world. To embrace the vulnerability of it all and to put it out there for other people to read and critique. Because they may hate it. But there’s that chance that they won’t, that hope that maybe what you’ve done isn’t as horrible as you now think (after all—wasn’t it just a few hours ago you had decided you loved it?) and you’ll never know if what you’ve done is great or maybe someday could be great if you never put it out there and try.

"To create is to make something that has never existed before--there's nothing more vulnerable than that." ~ BrenĂ© Brown. So my good friend Victoria had told me to watch this TED Talk by BrenĂ© Brown a while back, but I finally got around to watching it yesterday and it was amazing—just what I needed to hear. It’s all about listening to shame and vulnerability and how the most successful people embrace vulnerability because it is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change. You should definitely check it out here. And one of the main takeaways I got was that those who “dare greatly” are the ones that embrace the vulnerability and dare to be courageous and put themselves out there. These are the people that can succeed because they have taken the risks. So here I am, daring greatly, and putting my book out there so that maybe I can become something more, so that I can learn and grow, and so that maybe I can create something that has never existed before.

And then you do get the call—They don’t hate it! They love it too! Phew, you sigh in relief for a moment. Maybe I was right to begin with. But then a few minutes later you’re back to….but what if they’re lying so they don’t hurt my feelings?! Basically…writers can never be sane about things like this, but you’ve still got to put your work out there and try. 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Writer’s Brain

Right brain: “I am the right brain. I am creativity. A free spirit. I am passion. Yearning. Sensuality. I am the sound of roaring laughter. I am taste. The feeling of sand beneath bare feet. I am movement. Vivid colors. I am the urge to paint on an empty canvas. I am boundless imagination. Art. Poetry. I sense. I feel. I am everything I wanted to be.”

Sometimes the writer's brain can feel like it's exploding--with thoughts, ideas, emotions, words, creativity. Everything wants to burst right out of the writer's brain and onto the page. It reminds me of the beautiful Mercedes-Benz ad above depicting the right brain erupting with color all over the page. The writer's brain can't be contained. 

They’ll love it! They’ll hate it! The writer’s brain relishes in arguing with itself. During the editing process and as I come closer and closer to sharing my novel with others, this is something I have come to realize quite well. No sooner have you thought: They are going to love this. I will be a published author one day, than does your brain tack on Maybe. Or maybe it’s terrible. No, they’re going to hate it! What was I thinking? This is the worst! And from there it’s just a downward spiral.

Whoa there, writer’s brain. Calm down. Get off the emotional rollercoaster. There’s enough drama in that book, we don’t need residual drama from you. But still, the rational part of your brain probably does not prevail over the dash of crazy floating around on the writer’s side.

So how do you deal with this emotional and dramatic writer’s brain? In the end, you step away from the computer, take a few deep breaths, and tell the writer’s brain to cut it out. It doesn’t matter if everyone else hates the novel if you love it. You have to believe in your idea and what you’ve been working on—and presumably you do if you’ve chosen to put so much time and effort into it. You have to keep writing and pressing on through all of the chaos of writer’s brain, all of the doubt that tries to creep in, and you just have to finish. In all likelihood, even if you do end up hating it in the end, you will have enjoyed the process and learned from it, and there’s so much value in that alone.

The writer’s brain is also impetuous and selfish. Demanding and dramatic. You must write now! it clamors. Now! There’s no time to do that reading right now—I have an idea, I must get the words out and onto a paper now! it screams. I am inspired! I must create! Again, “Calm down, writer’s brain!” you chide it, but it just jumps up and down eagerly, clamoring for attention like a four year old on a pixy stix high.

Sometimes you need to just go ahead and write down whatever idea you have because it’s probably going to sit there and nag at you until you do--or worse, get lost back in the black hole of your writer’s brain again.

Even though the writer’s brain can be kind of crazy, in the end it can also be kind of fun…after all everyone needs a little eccentricity in their life, no? Besides, if the alternative is engineering brain or something more drab from the left brain side, I think I’ll stick with the creative writing brain. ;)

In summary: writers are kind of crazy? But awesome.

Do you have the same problems with writer's brain? How do you tame the craziness? 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

What’s in a name?

**This is a blog post I wrote back on November 16, 2011 before I even had this lovely writing blog, but I was doing some more naming today and found it to be appropriate, so I decided to post it and add to it a bit with some more recent perspective.**

By InverseHypercube (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Naming is annoyingly hard. What’s in a name? Well, a lot. A name can tell you quite a bit about a person/character. With a name comes history and meaning, and can set the tone of a novel. 

So back in November, when I was first starting to nail down all of the elements of my novel, I had been trying for days to come up with the perfect name for one of the main characters. Luckily the name for the primary character came to me instantly and easily one night while I was falling asleep, but this other name put up quite a struggle. I Googled, I brainstormed, I name generated, I crowd-sourced it on Facebook, polled my friends, but still nothing was sticking. But finally, somehow I landed on one I like, or rather, I landed on two. By then I had decided I needed two names for this character...of course. But with the perspective of the last few months, I know I settled on two that fit perfectly.

Reading Divergent author Veronica Roth's post about names yesterday got me thinking more about the fact that I had gone with two names. As she discussed, names can be very powerful and when a character has multiple names, "this usually signals the beginning of some kind of transformation, or indicates that a transformation has already taken place." This is precisely what happened with my naming look forward to that. ;)

But until I settled on the fact that the character needed two names and what those names were, it was just creating a wall for me. I couldn’t write anything more without knowing who I was writing about, and that started with the name. I could already see the character in my mind and knew their personality and physical description, the only thing that was evading me was the name. But after I got the name down, things fell into place nicely. 

For some of the other characters, the names came easily, but for others, I went through the same process, trying to figure out what name best suited their personality. Luckily, none of the other names were as much of a struggle as that one character's.

All of this happened right before finals. Finals are always my best time for productivity it seems. I always want to write the most when it’s the most impractical. Maybe I'm a glutton for punishment, maybe I just love a challenge. Despite exams being only two weeks away, I was in full-on writing mode and loving every minute of it. The good news is that both finals and book writing went quite well, so it worked out.

Back in the present, after finishing my draft, I still had a couple of pesky name gaps where I had just left a blank and needed particularly some last names to be filled in (one of which was for that same tricky character as before!) so I had to get back on the name train--Googling, brainstorming, name generating, researching. But I think I finally found names that I'm really happy with and that have a lot of significance too, which is always awesome. I just don't know how parents do it though--naming is hard!

How have your naming experiences been? What are some of your favorite unusual names or favorite names of characters in books? I still particularly love Mara Dyer of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, and Peeta of The Hunger Games (speaking of which--wasn't the movie amazing??). Oh, and Jace from The Mortal Instruments Series.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Editing--on the Beach!

Let's be real--if you're going to edit, it may as well be on the beach! But as it seems, Spring Break doesn't last forever, so now I'm back to the real world and law school.

But editing on the beach was pretty awesome. It was great to just have a whole week free where I could read, write, and relax.

Round 1 edits are complete! So it was highly productive as well--I edited a huge chunk of my manuscript, all while enjoying the Florida rays (from the safety of the shade). Now I'm in the process of going through and working on round two of edits.

Taking a box of file folders on Spring Break isn’t weird, is it? Apparently not for me…because I brought it with me to hold my MS and told my mom it was filled with file folders so I could organize things (because I like to pretend to be sneaky about working on my books). But she didn’t question that I would actually have file folders to organize things on Spring Break. My life--just your typical writer/law student nerd. ;)

Where's your favorite place to write or work on your book? If you could go anywhere to write where would it be? 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Book Recommendation: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

Can a book be this amazing? It can.

You should go read this book now, if not yesterday. Because it’s amazing. And you will love it.

“Mara Dyer doesn't think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there.
It can.
She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed.
There is.
She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love.
She's wrong.”

(I just love the style it’s written in with the: "It can" and "She's wrong.")

But it’s so much more than both of those: It’s mysterious, it keeps you reading and wondering what could possibly be going on, it’s original, it’s incredibly written, it’s spooky, but also romantic, one of the characters is British (need I say more?), and it’s hilarious. How can it be all of these things so wonderfully? You’re just going to have to read it to find out. Seriously. Go get it now. I literally was laughing out loud while reading parts of it, which is pretty rare for a book that isn’t trying to be a comedy.

The title—amazing. The name Mara Dyer? Love it. The cover—beautiful. I won’t get into the fonts because I don’t want to nerd out on you too much here. Noah Shaw—just yes (you’ll understand once you’ve read the book) ;). 

Also I have a special place in my heart for cool authors who are/used to be lawyers—law school for the win—and Michelle Hodkin is one of the few, the proud, representing. 

What’s even better is that it’s a SERIES!! I love series, because just when you find a great book, you are assured that yes, another one is either out or on the way. I cannot wait to read the next book. Let’s just say the last page of this one—amazing, perfect. But don’t peek and read it first!

The book has gotten tons of great praise left and right, so definitely check it out, you won’t be disappointed! 

Have you read The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer? What did you think? What amazing books have you read recently?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Novel Revision Process: Becoming Friends With That Red Pen

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been three weeks since I finished writing my second novel! Since then it’s been on to revising. Sitting down with the huge stack of paper that is your manuscript can be kind of daunting, but it’s also really cool to hold  that near-ream of paper and realize that you wrote that, that everything on those pages is a result of all of those hours of writing. So after all the writing, comes all the revising. Finding the best red pen is key here for all the marking up you’re going to be doing (Pentel Sign Pen being my favorite).

Electronic v. Paper revision

For my first novel, I didn’t print out a first draft, choosing instead to edit it all on the computer. I saved pushing print until I had gone through and made all of those changes to save some trees. For this second one, however, I’ve decided to sacrifice the forest (something I always feel guilty about—sorry, trees!) and I printed out all those imperfect first-draft pages. So I’ve been slowly taking my red pen to them and revising, and I must say I’ve been enjoying doing that so much more. 

It’s easier to see the words on the page and flip around and see the bigger picture, for me at least. And I can scribble lots of notes around on the page and play with word choices without actually going in and making the changes. It also allows me to write longer notes in the margins and at the end of chapters on things I want to tweak and incorporate.

The best thing will probably be getting in that secret extra round of editing when I go in to make the changes on the computer in Scrivener (the MOST amazing writing tool ever..more on that another time). Just getting that extra pass over it and having the whole thing fresh in my mind again before actually making the changes I think will go a long way.

So there are definitely perks to the electronic revision process, but right now I’m really enjoying being able to hold those pages in my hands and stack them up. Seeing all the red marks and notes scribbled on the page makes me feel like I’m really making tangible progress too.

The cool thing though is how little it’s changing, even throughout the revision process. All the ideas and scenes are kind of there so far and I’ve just been doing minor edits that I didn’t bother to take the time to do while writing because they would slow down the flow of ideas. Which brings me to writing v. revising:

Writing v. Revising 

I am generally biased toward the process of writing and don’t think of myself as particularly keen on editing. I’d much rather just get the ideas out and enjoy the process of creating rather than the technical nit-pickey editing process. I usually think of writing as the fun part and the revising as the work. For my first book I really didn’t spend too much time editing.

But of course, this novel is different (hopefully better as it comes with two more years of life and experiences) and what I’ve found is that I really have been enjoying the revising process. It’s really cool to be able to change things and to realize you aren’t limited to keeping what’s on the page. You can tear out whatever you want and add things that may be more true to who the characters developed to be in the end. Plus, I am very detail-oriented, so editing is something that comes naturally.

Also the difference now is a change in my frame of mind. Rather than thinking of revision as a way to fix all the mistakes from the first round, I’m approaching it as a way to improve and really make this the best that it can be. It’s a cool opportunity to be able to tweak that dialogue to say what it did in my mind the first time, or to add an extra scene that might develop the characters or reveal some back-story in an important way. So it’s kind of fun in its own way. Kind of like you’ve almost solved a puzzle and if you can just fit the final pieces together you’ll reveal this beautiful picture.

But then of course there are the other rounds of editing. And the beta readers. And more editing. So by then the pieces get jumbled up a bit more and need rearranging again. But hey, as Anne Lamott said in her book on writing, Bird by Bird (which you should read), you’ve just got to take it "bird by bird."*

(*The explanatory quote from Bird by Bird: "Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he'd had three months to write. [It] was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother's shoulder, and said. 'Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'")

What’s your revision process like? What are you working on now? What have you found particularly helpful (or not) while revising? I’d love to hear!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Katie O'Shea Books: Welcome!

Hey there. Welcome to my writing blog and thanks for checking it out. :)

Why do I write? I write because it’s something I have to do. Something I love to do. Something that’s in my soul and that I can’t not do. Writing is so powerful and I love being able to create something with my words and to share it and that’s what I want to do here with you. Anyone who has read a great, an amazing book knows the power in words and how much they can affect you and change lives. I love to create and that world of writing is something that I want to be a part of, no matter on what level. I write for me, but I’d love to share what I write with you, too.

By Lin Kristensen from New Jersey, USA (Timeless Books  Uploaded by guillom) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

 (Basically, writing is this...making words come to life and creating another world on a page...kind of cool)

Ok but who am I? Right, hello there. Let me introduce myself then. I’m Katie O’Shea. Law student and writer extraordinaire…or just someone who loves to write. I’m from Atlanta, GA and love the South (even though Atlanta is secretly really the North…). I’m that overly-involved kind of perfectionist that you’re not surprised to find in law school, but also fun and creative and not too serious (maybe?). I absolutely adore music, the other half of my soul. I’m the kind of spontaneous that could just get on a train and go to Italy on a whim…for lunch…because I’m craving Italian food (and I did when studying abroad in Paris)…I love to travel. Let’s see…I love trying new things. I started baking cupcakes last year at the beginning of law school, but mostly I just like to eat them (even though I hate cake…). And I just finished writing my second novel! It’s a YA post-apocalyptic dystopian novel which I kind of love and maybe you will too one day. I wrote my first novel when I was 20, writing it little by little every night during college and it was a really cool process and something that I loved…but that you will probably never see as it was one of those self-indulgent first attempt kind of things. So if you want to know anything else…just ask? 

Why the writing website now? After reading a couple of posts from amazing authors like Veronica Roth about the importance of writers having websites I figured it was time to take the plunge. As Veronica pondered in one of her first posts pre-publishing career, “I haven't actually published anything, so what on earth would I advertise on said website? My innate awesomeness?” I too have not (yet) published anything so what to write about? I’m just going to write about all those writer-ly thoughts that I always have and the things I would write about if I were published. About two years from that post, Ms. Roth had her first amazing book Divergent published (which you should definitely check out if you haven’t read it already. Truly, you will love it.) so I guess things worked out pretty well for her. 

Being published would be pretty awesome, but mostly I just love to create and to write and that’s why I do, not to be published. If that happens someday, I’m not going to lie I would freak out, but if not I’ll just continue to love writing anyway. 

So welcome to my blog (and to my crazy writer brain) where I’ll be writing about writing and life. Thanks for joining me on this journey. I’d love to hear from you and know what you’re thinking about, writing, reading, etc. too so leave me a comment and let’s connect! 

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