Tag Archives: books

Not a Pitch Wars mentee?

Hi YA Bookcasers!

Audio version: 

Welcome to the end of August and the almost-start of October, my favorite month of the year (can anyone say Halloween?). Pitch Wars has just come to an end (if you don’t know what that is, you can find out more here), and while some hopefuls have snagged a mentor, there are some wonderful writers who have missed out. However, that doesn’t mean your chance to build your writing career is gone. Not at all. It means you’ve taken a healthy step in the right direction. Continue reading Not a Pitch Wars mentee?

Preparing for Pitch Wars

Hi YA Bookcasers!

It’s so nice to see you here. As many of you might know,  I’m a Pitch Wars mentor who’s taking a year’s sabbatical due to work and personal writing restraints. However, that’s not going to stop me from helping where and when I can. So let’s get to it. Today, I’m going to talk about how to prepare for Pitch Wars!

Continue reading Preparing for Pitch Wars

How to answer “Have you published your book yet?”

Hello YABookcasers,

Ah, where to start? It’s the question so many writers dread. Some of the lucky ones have their books either published, or they’ve snagged a deal and have a release date. I’m afraid this post’s not quite for you. No, this post is for the writers who haven’t published, gotten their deal, snagged an agent, submitted their book, or even finished it.

So how do you answer the infamous “Have you published your book yet?” question. Well, this post could help you…

Continue reading How to answer “Have you published your book yet?”

What happens outside of your book?

Hey YABookcasers!

All of us pretty much know what we want to happen in our books (unless you’re in the new ideas or first draft stage – if so, I recommend you check this post out on YATopia).

Either way though, this post is for you, and it revolves around what happens outside of your book. You have this wonderful world between your pages, and characters that have lives and wonderful, awful, and strange things happening to them. But what would it be like if the plot wasn’t there. What would your universe and characters be up to now?


Continue reading What happens outside of your book?

#PitMad – for writers & readers (plus a giveaway!)


Hey YABookcasers,


I know #PitMad on Twitter is about to hit tomorrow, and that hundreds of new writers in search of agents and publishers are going to be pitching their novels in hopes of getting their books in bookstores. But not only is this a wonderful place for new writers to pitch their work, it’s a great place for readers to scan and see what trends in fiction seem to be on the rise, and what type of books to expect on the bookshelves in the coming years. Continue reading #PitMad – for writers & readers (plus a giveaway!)

Book Review (with audio) – How to Hang a Witch

Hello my wonderful YA Bookcasers!

I’ve made an upgrade to our posts: audio versions of the posts! Click on the link to hear if that’s your preference:


Recently, I finished a book called How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather, and I must say, it inspired me to start off my first book review post on our new website! This is a *spoiler free* review.

Here’s the blurb: Continue reading Book Review (with audio) – How to Hang a Witch

#PitchWars mentor – Twitter Pitch Advice

Hey YABookcasers!

It’s that time again. In just 8 days, #PitMad is going to strike and I’d like to give you some advice from a Pitch Wars mentor! It’s one of the most exciting times of the year, and everyone is revving up to go. For those of you who know the drill, you know there’s going to be a lot going on, and that you need to really stand out to be noticed. The same goes for people entering for the first time, but don’t let that dissuade you, because a great Twitter pitch is all it takes to get noticed – there’s no preferential treatment as everyone only has 140 characters to pitch their work. Check out the rules here on Brenda Drake’s site (the wonderful creator of all things #PitMad).

As a Pitch Wars mentor (on a year’s sabbatical this year though!), I know Continue reading #PitchWars mentor – Twitter Pitch Advice

Grand opening – new website!

Hey fellow YA Bookcasers!

You might have noticed a change. The YA Bookcase blog has now been switched over to my shiny new website (what do you think of our new place? I think it’s rather spiffy, but I might be be a teeny bit biased!). I felt it was about time we upgraded, because as the famous hair shampoo commercial says, “We’re worth it”!

We’re all grown up, but Continue reading Grand opening – new website!

Writing a great first chapter

Yup! It’s the wonderful, spectacular, absolutely dreaded and loved first chapter. This is perhaps one of the chapters you spend most of your time vacillating over – does the first line hook? Does the page have micro-tension? What about the scene setting? Do I have a hook? Do my characters jump off the page? What about the voice?

*cue voice screaming inside your head…*


Image result for screaming

This is something I’ve been working closely on with a wonderfully talented writer & also a fellow editor with. After much back and forth, talking, brainstorming, wrist slapping, laughing, deleting, and burning of pages, we boiled it down to what we think is needed. Now, here are a few of our quick tips to get that first chapter to hold up its end of the deal.

Have a tangible goal. Your character needs to want something from the get go. Something that they need to achieve and have an all burning desire for. For example: in my WiP, I have a main character whose goal is to enter a female elite warrior guard and clear her family’s sullied name so she can feel honorable again. Did you see what I did there? I have an exterior goal (become a warrior) and interior goal (clear her family’s name and become honorable). You need to make sure you have a tangible goal. What do they want to achieve in the novel and why? Sum it up in one sentence and make sure it has an exterior and interior drive to it. If you make this evident in your first chapter, you create agency in your character that readers will want to follow.

Have a chapter goal. In general, I’m a plantster (half/half). This means I don’t have a goal immediately going in on some chapters. However, you can bet your sweet cashew nuts that I do when I revise. Take your chapter and study it. What does your main character want to achieve here? Why? What stands in the way? What will the outcome be – success, failure, to be continued, etc.? This isn’t just your tangible goal (but it will be a step toward it) – it’s the goal to drive the chapter and plot forward.

Cut backstory. This is a biggie. Backstory is a lot less needed than you might think it is. Try cutting out all the backstory from your first chapter. Look and see what is 100% vital. I mean, the story won’t make any sense at all ever if it’s not in the first chapter. Only put that back in. The rest can be filtered in as you go through the book. This first chapter needs to be tight and compelling.

Think like your character. A lot of writers can write on autopilot. I know I can. I just tip-tap away on the keyboard and out comes my story. However, sometimes I read back and see my character looks a bit…generic on the page. That’s when I sit down and try to become my character. For me, it means closing my eyes, seeing the scene. It means reading my pages out loud in the accent of my characters (hey, don’t judge!). Do what works for you. Do what works for your character. Be them. Inhabit their very core.

Have fun! Don’t forget that this is your passion, your heart, your art, and your story. Keep your sparkle in there!

I hope these quick tips helped, and thank you to all of those who read my blog! Remember, these are just my suggestions, but I sincerely hope they work for you like they’re working for me!

Happy writing!

Writing Birthday Post – Love What You Do

Okay, so the clue is totally in the name! Today is my birthday…and do you know what I’m doing? Revising. Okay, so I can hear a collective groan. Hey, shoot me, I’m a reviser, not a drafter ;-). Some of you might think I’m on deadline, or I have nothing else to do, or I’m just a glutton for punishment. But do you know what? I’m none of the above. I’m actually doing the thing I love: writing (revising!).

I want you to take yourself back. Way back. Before you started thinking about literary agents, publishing deals, critiquing, editing, marketing, brand development, book tours… Scratch that all away for a minute… You know why? I want you to remember why you first started writing. If your aim was just monetary, then this blog might not be for you. I”m talking to the writers who wanted to explore a world they didn’t know, experience something outside of their own life, pass a message to other people, soak themselves in something that wasn’t in their every day humdrum (or you might have a super exciting life, and just wanted to try something new!). Whatever the reason, I’m pretty sure you started writing because you loved it.

Yup, there are times when you stare at your screen in horror – writer’s block, revision panic, deadlines looming – but those first days/weeks/months of writing because it’s your passion? Please don’t forget those. Today, I’m ditching the serious writing hat. Instead, I’m doing what I love, just because I love it! Go on and love what you do. Throw off your serious cap, and just have fun! Trust me, it’s worth it!