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Hi, I'm Jamie. I'm a writer, reader, and huge TV junkie. I just might post about all three here on this blog. Have a look around. And if you want, drop me an email and tell me what you think. Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Comma Crazy? Then read like Ben Stein!

Okay, so if that title didn't scare you away, welcome. This post is gonna give you a sure-fire way to understand exactly where you should be placing the dreaded COMMA--and where you shouldn't.

About a month ago, I was fortunate enough to snag an internship at a publishing house (score! though, that score! would be SCORE! if it were a paying position...but I digress), and since then, I've had the pleasure of reading several submissions from some very talented writer hopefuls. Overall, said submissions have been well-written, with interesting plots and some great characters. But in almost all of them, the one thing that's been consistently lacking is, you guessed it, comma placement.

Now in no way am I saying I'm a genius when it comes to commas (or writing, plotting, characterization, grammar...you get the idea). But I do think that the method I use helps (at least, it helps me). And I thought "Hey, this could maybe help other people, too." Hence, today's post.

Well that covers the "Comma Crazy?" part of this post's title, so let's move on to that whole "Ben Stein" thing, shall we? Now...this is where it gets interesting (or weird, depending on your level of sanity. Note: if you're not a tiny bit crazy, you may wanna stop reading.)

Ben Stein. We all know him, we all love him (if you have no clue who I'm talking about, you should really stop reading--and go watch Ferris Bueller's Day Off--RIGHT NOW.). We've seen him in everything from Ferris Beuller to Win Ben Stein's Money to kid shows like The Fairly Oddparents. The man has been everywhere, and we've enjoyed him immensely. 

And why, you might ask, is that? The answer is simple:

That Voice.

You might not recognize him walking down the street, but I guarantee you that if he spoke, you'd have no doubt. Mr. Stein has one of the most recognizable voices in the world, a raspy monotone that leaks into every part he plays. And it's that monotone that drives this post today.
(come on, who doesn't remember this?)

As writers, I'm sure we've all heard that reading your work out loud helps with things such as pacing, sentence structure and dialogue, right? But there's also a way for this tip to help with those horrifying little slashes known as commas. Sure, you might notice comma placement while reading aloud. But chances are you won't, since most of your focus will be on the aforementioned things. So I suggest giving it a read again.

Only this time, Read Like Ben Stein.

Yes. You read that right. If there's a particular line in your WIP that you just can't get to sound right, it could very easily be because of your commas. A comma not only helps with the way a sentence is structured, but also with the way it sounds. Putting a comma in to give a pause can add emphasis or dramatic affect, which will certainly help boost the mood you're going for in a scene, no?

So give that dry, humorous, brilliant monotone a try. Using monotone will help you avoid putting your own pause in, thus forcing you to rely on those commas. It will make it painfully clear if you've stuck one in the wrong place, because without dramatic inflection in your voice, your scene will sound like a really badly-structured one if those commas are incorrect.

But a word of advice?

Don't do this in front of others. If you do, you may get this reaction:

Might I suggest following the man himself, Mr. Bueller's lead, and just use the shower. You know, like a normal crazy person. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday...REBIRTH!

The lovely Jill (a fellow Alabamian!) over at Breaking the Spine created the Waiting on Wednesday meme for us bloggers to showcase books we're waiting on. 

This week's selection was just announced by the author yesterday (or the day before? ugh, my days run together!) and I cannot WAIT to read it. It's more of a novella (or short), but it's the prequel to one of my all-time favorite novels (which just so happens to have been optioned for film, which makes me crazy happy!), so I'm over-the-moon excited! Please be sure to add to your TBRs...

by Keary Taylor
pub date October 2012

product description from goodreads.com

One week ago I thought I knew exactly how I was going to spend the rest of my life: looking at the gray walls of a prison cell. Figuring out how to survive the apocalypse wasn’t something I’d planned for.

Yet here I was, getting a second chance at the end of the world.

Rebirth is the 10,000 word prequel to the novel Eden.

GAH!! Okay, if you've never read EDEN, you have to--it's awesome! (a dystopian with robots and hot guys? Oh yes!)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Release Day...THE STAR CHILD by Stephanie Keyes!

Just wanted to wish a very Happy Release Day to my friend Stephanie Keyes, whose debut novel THE STAR CHILD is out today!!

Here's a bit about the book:

by Stephanie Keyes
pub date: TODAY!!

product description from goodreads.com

The world is about to be cloaked in darkness. Only one can stop the night.

Kellen St. James has spent his entire life being overlooked as an unwanted, ordinary, slightly geeky kid. That is until a beautiful girl, one who has haunted his dreams for the past eleven years of his life, shows up spinning tales of a prophecy. Not just any old prophecy either, but one in which Kellen plays a key role.

Suddenly, Kellen finds himself on the run through a Celtic underworld of faeries and demons, angels and gods, not to mention a really ticked off pack of hellhounds, all in order to save the world from darkness. But will they make it in time?

And here's a bit about the lady herself!

Stephanie Keyes holds an undergraduate degree in Management Information Systems as well as a Master’s in Education. A seasoned, facilitator, Mrs. Keyes worked in Training and Development for an international telecommunications corporation for twelve years; spending the first eight years of her career as a Software Trainer and Technical Writer and the last four working in Human Resources and Employee Development.

In May of 2012, Mrs.Keyes left the corporate world to focus on her family and her writing full-time. She also operates a freelance graphic and instructional design business, Sycamore Road Design.

Inkspell Publishing will release her first novel, The Star Child, on September 21, 2012. She is now currently at work on the second book in The Star Child Trilogy, The Fallen Stars.

Keyes lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two children, and Riley the dog.

Contact Stephanie
Website: www.stephaniekeyes.com 
Twitter: www.twitter.com/StephanieKeyes 

Please wish Stephanie a very happy book birthday today, and be sure to pick up a copy of THE STAR CHILD at B&N or the Inkspell website!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday...FIREBLOOD by Trisha Wolfe!

The lovely Jill (a fellow Alabamian!) over at Breaking the Spine created the Waiting on Wednesday meme for us bloggers to showcase books we're waiting on. 

This week's selection is by someone I consider a friend, who just happens to be a major talent. The cover was just revealed, and it's awesome--as is the synopsis. If you haven't already, please add to your TBRs...

by Trisha Wolfe
pub date 10/2013

product description from goodreads.com

To save a kingdom, Zara must choose between a prince who could be the answer and a rising rebellion that threatens to take control.

When Zara Dane is chosen to marry Prince Sebastian Hart, son of the man who ordered her father’s capture, Zara knows she must fight to save everything she loves from ruin.

Being betrothed to the prince means a life trapped behind the towering stone walls of the Camelot-forged realm. Under the watchful eye of the prince's first knight, Sir Devlan Capra, changing her future becomes difficult.

When an unlikely rebel reveals the truth about the deadly secrets that fuel King Hart’s twisted world, Zara’s path to rescue her father becomes clouded by deception. The Rebels clear her path by forcing Zara’s hand with an ultimatum: sway Prince Sebastian to join the Rebels, convincing him of his father’s evil nature, or they will take him out.

But Zara is uncertain about a future under the Rebels’ command and where the prince’s heart truly lies. She must decide who to trust, what to believe, and what she’s truly fighting for before the king destroys all of Karm, including her heart.

Doesn't that sound amazing? Ugh, October 2013 is so far away!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Monday Must Reads...HOLLOWED by Kelley York!

Not familiar with this little feature? It's simple, really. Monday Must Reads! is a feature I created to showcase books that I think you, well, Must Read (ha!).

This week's selection is a great paranormal read, and the first in what promises to be an exciting series. It's written by an amazingly talented author, whose debut novel still stands as one of my all-time favorites. If you haven't already, trust me when I say that you simply Must Read...

by Kelley York
pub date August 15, 2012

product description from goodreads.com

All 18-year-old Briar Greyson wanted was to figure out this whole living-away-from-your-parents thing. Apartment, steady job, cool roommate? Check. Noah, her adorable (albeit elusive) boyfriend? Check. Everything in the life of Briar was pretty good.

Then she and her roommate are attacked on their way home one night. Briar wasn't supposed to survive.

Instead, according to the two guys who saved her, she's turning into the things that attacked her: a vampire. Totally crazy and Not Okay. Now Noah's secrets are coming to light, and he wants Briar dead. Then there are the vampires who attacked Briar to lure out her sister.

Her sister...who died years ago.

(Didn't she?)

The city's body count is rising, and Briar wants to help put a stop to it. But first, she has to figure out who the real enemy is: the vampires, the boy she loves, or the sister she thought she'd lost.

This was such a fun read that paranormal lovers will enjoy!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

I! Am! Sparta! (well, my brain is)

As I'm typing this, my brain is fighting me on every word (literally...I've written and deleted this first sentence three times.). It keeps grabbing hold of the letters and refusing to let them out. It has unleashed a full-on assault, complete with spears and swords and 300 Spartans ready to give their last breath to win.

And why, you ask, has my brain turned on me over the mere attempt to write a blog post? 

Because it wants me to focus on the two WIPS currently fighting their own war in my head. Which brings me to today's post (funny how ironic that is, huh?)

About a month or so ago, I wrapped up final edits on Blood Awakening, the second book in my Blood Prophecy trilogy. (No clue what I'm talking about? Check out book one here). It was a great feeling knowing I was finished, because my publisher had tasked me with some huge changes (like...cutting out entire chapters. Chapters, people!). At first glance, it seemed insurmountable. But, like all us writers, I buckled down and did the work--and the book, in my opinion, is much better for it. After I was done, I rewarded myself by taking a week off from writing  and doing nothing but reading (I can almost hear writers past gasping from beyond). I devoured several books that had been perched on my TBR shelves during those 7 days, letting my mind cleanse itself from the stress of revisions it had been under. It was, in a word, awesome.

That mini-vacay helped me return to the trenches ready to fight. I had to dig into the first book of my second contracted series, which is due in December, so I had no more time to waste. I was stoked to create this dystopian world that had seized my thought process about six months ago, to flesh out the characters that I so vividly saw in my head. I eagerly sat at my computer and opened up my .doc, my fingers aching to begin.

And, as luck would have it, those characters? That world that wouldn't let me leave only a few months ago? Yeah, they were MIA. Nowhere to be found. Gone. And in their place were some new characters, a new world, a new idea. And this idea forced me to write it. It, like my brain at the beginning of this blog post, had its own set of eager Spartans ready for battle. And these soldiers even had shields to block those dystopian words from getting through. And spears. And swords. 

And an even bigger need to win.

Thus began the battle still raging in my head. It isn't a battle of good vs evil, of light vs dark, of Spartans vs Persians. No, it is a much worse battle.

A battle of me vs me. A battle that no matter the outcome, I know, deep down, I will still come out a winner.

That doesn't make the overall war any easier, though.

What about you? How does your mind cope with dueling ideas? How do you handle that internal writerly conflict?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday...LIFE & DEATH OF LILY DRAKE!

The lovely Jill (a fellow Alabamian!) over at Breaking the Spine created the Waiting on Wednesday meme for us bloggers to showcase books we're waiting on. 

This week's selection is one I came across while perusing the Inkspell Publishing website (seriously, how fun is it to do that?). It popped out at me with its striking cover, and after reading the description, I was sold! Please, add to your TBRs...

by T Michelle Nelson
pub date: October 2012

product description from goodreads.com

For Lily Drake, slaying vampires is easy...Dating them is the hard part.

Lily Drake is your everyday hard-working single mom…until a gorgeous vampire shows up on her front door who she mistakenly assumes is her blind date for the evening. As one crazy scenario after another unfolds, Lily finds herself falling in love with two vampires, slaying the evil ones, and being prophesied as the savior of the entire undead race.
Deciding between pizza and Chinese take-out will no longer be one of the hard decisions facing Lily Drake once she is emerged into vampire society. Humanity or immortality? That doesn't hold a candle against this question - which of the two handsome vampire cousins?

The Life and Death of Lily Drake is not your typical vampire love story. It’s a tale about the humorous mistakes a woman makes simply trying to survive not only life, but the dating scene. How will Lily manage working full-time, taking care of her young son and fighting the undead at every turn?
Lily will have to figure it out, but who better to save the world than a mom? 

Hot vampire cousins, blind dates, and a single mom vampire slayer? I am so there!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Never Forget

Today marks eleven years since 9/11. Wow. It's so amazing and crazy how time moves when you're not paying attention, huh? I'm sure like most everyone, it feels like yesterday when I watched the events of that day on TV, numb and scared and in shock. But it wasn't yesterday. 

It was eleven years ago.

Eleven years, and yet the feelings I had from that day can come rushing back just like new. If I let them, they'll make me sad and depressed and hating the world, just like I did on 9/11. I could easily wallow in despair today, cry and ask Why? like I did all those years ago.

But I'm not gonna let that happen.

I'm gonna fight those feelings, like I have every year since that day. I'm gonna remember the love and bravery and triumph that came out of those horrible events. I'm gonna remember the lives lost all across our nation, both the victims and the heroes.

I'm gonna remember...

Monday, September 10, 2012

Monday Must Reads...WANT by Stephanie Lawton!

Not familiar with this little feature? It's simple, really. Monday Must Reads! is a feature I created to showcase books that I think you, well, Must Read (ha!).

This week's selection is a good one. One of my new faves, actually. It's by an author that  is one of the nicest people I've "met"--who just happens to live down the street from me! (okay, technically an hour, but still) This is her debut novel, and it's filled with awesome characters, both darkness and humor, and music. In other words...it's a winner! Trust me when I say that you simply Must Read...

by Stephanie Lawton
pub date June 7, 2012

product description from goodreads.com

Julianne counts the days until she can pack her bags and leave her old-money, tradition-bound Southern town where appearance is everything and secrecy is a way of life. A piano virtuoso, she dreams of attending a prestigious music school in Boston. Failure is not an option, so she enlists the help of New England Conservatory graduate Isaac Laroche to help her.

She can’t understand why he suddenly gave up Boston’s music scene to return to the South. He doesn’t know her life depends on escaping it. Julianne must face down madness from without, just as it threatens from within. Isaac must resist an inappropriate attraction, but an indiscretion at a Mardi Gras ball-the pinnacle event for Mobile’s elite-forces their present wants and needs to collide with sins of the past.

Will Julianne accept the help she’s offered and get everything she ever wanted, or will she self-destruct and take Isaac down with her?

This awesome description just doesn't do this book justice--believe me, it's one you're gonna love!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Booker Award!

The awesome Stephanie Keyes has nominated me for The Booker Award, and I'm thrilled! It's a simple job ahead: Pick my Top Five Books...EVER

Yeah. Simple. 

Okay, so here goes, my Top Five Books. EVER.

1. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
2. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
3. The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
4. Animal Farm by George Orwell
5.The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

And as per the "rules", my blogger nominations for The Booker Award:

Jess Leake
Mandie Baxter
Ginger Phillips
Elana Johnson
Tim Moon

Congrats, guys! And thanks, Stephanie!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday...OPAL by JL Armentrout!

The lovely Jill (a fellow Alabamian!) over at Breaking the Spine created the Waiting on Wednesday meme for us bloggers to showcase books we're waiting on. 

This week's selection is the third in one of my favorite series EVER! There's no cover yet, so I've added the cover from the first book in the series...but I know it's gonna be awesome (with a certain character on the front, how could it not be?). Please check out...

by Jennifer L Armentrout
pub date 12/11/2012

product description from goodreads.com

No one is like Daemon Black.

When he set out to prove his feelings for me, he wasn’t fooling around. Doubting him isn’t something I’ll do again, and now that we’ve made it through the rough patches, well... There’s a lot of spontaneous combustion going on.

But even he can’t protect his family from the danger of trying to free those they love.

After everything, I’m no longer the same Katy. I’m different... And I’m not sure what that will mean in the end. When each step we take in discovering the truth puts us in the path of the secret organization responsible for torturing and testing hybrids, the more I realize there is no end to what I’m capable. The death of someone close still lingers, help comes from the most unlikely source, and friends will become the deadliest of enemies, but we won’t turn back. Even if the outcome will shatter our worlds forever.

Together we’re stronger... and they know it.

I just finished reading ONYX a few weeks ago, and I seriously can't wait for December!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Giveaway Winners!!

First let me say a HUGE thank you to everyone who entered BOTH of my giveaways--you all ROCK!

First up, my CHOSEN ONES giveaway. The winner of a paperback copy of CHOSEN ONES by Tiffany Truitt is...

Congrats, A.J.! Please email me your mailing address at jmanni32 @ yahoo dot com and I will get your book mailed out asap!

Second, my 100 Reviews giveaway. This giveaway features 7 books, two of which are signed copies of my debut novel BLOOD BORN! There are two winners, and they are...

Congrats you guys! Kaci, please email me your mailing address, plus the 3 books you'd like from the following: SHINE by Jeri Smith-Ready, TOUCH by Jus Accardo, SUCH A RUSH (Arc) by Jennifer Echols, WITCH EYES by Scott Tracey, SANTA CRUISE by Mary Higgins Clark & Carol Higgins Clark. I'll also be throwing in a signed copy of my novel BLOOD BORN plus some swag! Email me at jmanni32 @ yahoo dot com.

Texas Book Lover, please email me your mailing address at jmanni32 @ yahoo dot com, and I will mail out the remaining 2 books from the above list, plus a signed copy of BLOOD BORN and some swag!

To all winners: You have 48 hours to email me, or I'll have to pick new winners :(

Thanks again, everyone, for entering my giveaways, and for those of you who have read my book and posted reviews on goodreads, amazon, b&n, etc., I HEART you all!!