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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Say It With Me: NAN-O-WRI-MO!!

For the last two years I have attempted the NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month, contest. Let me explain what that means, exactly. You create your account/login and input the information about your story. You can choose "Writing Buddies" to share the journey with too. (Usually you pick people you know) Then the madness begins November 1st. For the whole month of November, you do nothing but write. You don't edit, you don't re-read- you WRITE! The goal is to complete an entire novel, start to finish, in one month!

I must admit, when I first signed up (two years ago) to participate, I thought, "This will be so easy!" Boy was I wrong! The first NANO, kicked my rear! I found that even when you have good intentions to write, life keeps you busy! I felt that events around me all conspired to keep from the computer! With a husband, children, school & church responsibilities, I couldn't find the time! Needless to say, I failed, miserably!
So when the second year rolled around I again sounded my battle cry, "I will complete the NANOWRIMO!" And, although I came closer, I failed again. The reason for this failure was two-fold. I, once again, found it hard to find time to write, AND I didn't have my story solidified. I was flying by the seat of my pants (which, for me, is not my favorite thing). I started drifting off in a direction I didn't like and ultimately abandoned ship!
So what will keep me from a third doomed attempt, you may wonder? In truth, I don't know. But I will say that this time I'm even more prepared. I have a solid story line, outlined and all. The characters are alive in my head- conversations and scenes always taking place. I have a better schedule to keep me on track and I have announced to everyone (my Facebook family and friends) that I am doing it! This all gives me the adequate push to keep going!
Another positive: I will be attending a Writer's Retreat November 7-9th ( I will be a class presenter as well. Starting the month off engulfed in writing will help me get focused and hopefully stay that way throughout the month.
I think it is wonderful that there are organization, programs, and contests out there like NANOWRIMO, that keep writers going! The field is saturated with Authors of all sorts and it can be intimidating to jump into the fray. However, when we are given the talent to write, we should share that gift with others!
My new story, Abandoned Grace, has been a wonderful experience putting together. It started out as another, completely different (genre and all) story line. But when I began to learn the history of a small town, north of where I live, it fascinated me! Technically, it would be considered Historical Fiction, but it is also a scary thriller about a sociopath! So I am currently going to deem it a Thriller.

I will post throughout the month about my journey- as well as posts on Facebook. I truly hope I can finish this time and feel the joy of completing such a large feat!
I also plan to submit my story to Xchyler Publishing when I am finished. They are currently accepting open submissions through the end of the year! How exciting to be able to submit to the publishing company who already published my work! I hope to end the year on a high note- already completing my goal for 2013 (to get published). I look forward to the chaotic, taxing, wonderful, month of November!

Monday, July 29, 2013

My Bookmarks Have Arrived!!

I came home to a wonderful surprise today. A box was waiting on my chair in the office when I got home from camping for the week. I quickly tore into the box to find my bookmarks! I cheered, laughed, and cried.
As I get another step closer to my release party (August 3rd) and book launch party (Sept. 17th), the reality of my dream coming true becomes more real. I am a published author! Almost as soon as I say the words, I quickly diminish the accomplishment by saying to myself, "It's only a short story" (which my husband hates that I do). Yes, it's only a short story; grouped together in a book of other short stories but it's still a big deal! My writing was liked well enough to be published, I won't diminish that!
Next weekend is my Facebook book launch. It's exciting to share my book with everyone. I look forward to being part of all the fun games and activities and giving out my own prizes. I found nail polish called Silver STUNNER- perfect for my story. I found a manicure set and small backpack to put it all together in. I'm excited to give that prize away. I also have bookmarks, posters, and a really cool ring to give away too. Let the games begin!
Join me on Facebook from 11 am to 2 pm PST. Follow my adventures on Twitter: @SHHyatt and "Like" my Author page on Facebook: Author Sarah Hunter Hyatt.
The support I have received from family, friends, and complete strangers has been amazing! So thankful for amazing people in my life!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

That's MY Name on that Cover!!

I have been anxiously waiting for the cover release for the upcoming Anthology that my short story is being published in. Today, it was released!!
I had already seen a preview of the cover but wasn't able to share it yet, so getting the "Ok" today was amazing! I want to shout out to everyone, "That's my name on that cover!" I'm excited to be a part of this project and to be a part of such an amazing team of writers! It's been fun to learn about each Author and their stories. All of them are so unique, it'll be fun to see the reviews! So, without further delay, here it is, the cover:

The release date is set for July 31, 2013. It may change but for now, that's the target date. The next BIG step is getting ARC's (Advanced Reader Copies). I hope to be able to get some people to read and review it as a pre-published push. 
I guess it's just an exciting thing to know that your dreams have come true! I have always wanted my name on the cover of a book. Now, it's a reality! My next goal- getting a full novel published! 
To learn more about the upcoming book (and more about my AWESOME publishing company) visit: 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

You Win Some, You Lose Some- And That's Okay!

Since April 1st, I've been working hard to get my (soon-to-be-published) short story, "Stunner," in proper shape. I have had some major re-writes and several edits, which have taught me a lot about my own writing strengths- and weaknesses. I have truly enjoyed the process as I take another step closer to the final book reveal (minus a few tears and lots of chocolate). I've also met some amazing people that have really helped me learn and grow (even when facing some major growing pains). So I know that I am fortunate to be part of an amazing team of authors and a wonderful publishing company!

After first submitting “Stunner,” I was excited for the next upcoming writing contest, "Extreme Makeover," a paranormal anthology. I love writing paranormal! I have read ghost/creature stories my entire life, so getting to submit my own story was a dream come true. I even had the perfect story to submit! Then life happened. First of all, the story I wanted to submit, called "Diamond Point," is meant to be a full novel. No matter how I tried to shorten it, I couldn't get it to fit the parameters and still be the story I wanted. It's a complex ghost story, chuck full of actual historical events. With all the research and energy I put into it so far, I couldn't bring myself to cut half of it. So now I was back to square one. I needed a new story. 
I have several little blurbs written down of story ideas and I started playing around with a few. I even wrote almost 6,000 words of a story I ultimately abandoned. The one I ended up going with was a tough one and yet the only one I could fit together in my head. But, unfortunately, it was doomed from the beginning. You see, my main character was already dead. Hmm, I'm sure your thinking, "yep, you lost me." But I wanted something edgy and unique. The problem is, I ran out of time to show it.
The busy life of a wife and mother kept me from getting to the computer as much as I needed and wanted to.  I also have a few (minor) health issues that keep me down from time to time. Throw in a weekend trip with my sisters and the deadline was upon me. I was only halfway done and no time to complete it. I was devastated! This genre is my niche. I was supposed to rock it and show off my creativity. Instead, what stared me in the face was a sub-par story line and characters that didn't get the chance to take shape. 
In my desperation, I took to Facebook and shared my sad news of failure. I was upset that I wouldn't be able to submit. But, because of the wonderful people at Xchyler Publishing, they reached out to me. Two of the editor's encouraged me to submit what I had anyway. I was both grateful and petrified! 
On my flight to Salt Lake City, (for the fun-filled weekend with the girls) I feverishly typed away, trying to edit and fix what I had, hoping it wasn't an utter disaster. Once off the plane, I went through the pages for one last look. The time was now or never. Should I press that enter key and face rejection? If I didn't press enter and let the date slip by, I could pretend that I “just forgot.” I went back and forth for over an hour. In the end, I pressed enter. My half-written, lacking story was on its way. I prayed that either the email would get lost among the billions of files on the web or that someone reading it would see through the catastrophe and spot the diamond in the rough.
Today I found the answer. The winners were announced for the upcoming anthology and my name was not listed. I winced (doing a mental, Doh!) but then felt relieved. Rejection is part of being an author. Deep down I knew that the short story I submitted was not my best work. It wasn't the tale I had hoped to enter and thinking of all the work needed to make it “readable,” made me shutter. I was saved from many headaches, several tears, and clearing out the local store of chocolate bars.
What I’m anxious to receive now is the feedback. One great thing about the submission process at Xchyler Publishing is that you get feedback about what was liked and what wasn't; what worked and what didn't  To me, that is priceless. It is a tool that will help me learn what I can do to improve. I’m looking forward to the constructive criticism and growing from it. Not all authors get the reasons for rejection, so I look forward to seeing what needs to change.
In the end I don’t regret submitting my story. Everything I do as a writer is a learning process, so the worst that can happen is that I’m told “no,” and that’s okay.
Check out Xchyler Publishing and upcoming writing contests by visiting: And check out my author page on Facebook: Author Sarah Hunter Hyatt.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Well Over Due: Book Reviews on "Shadow and Bone" and "Throne of Glass"

I have been wanting to write book reviews for a while now. I have thought about what I wanted to write about and the books I have read recently. Both of these books are worth reviewing and I want to share my thoughts about them both.
Let's start with "Shadow and Bone" by Leigh Bardugo.

I'll be honest, I almost didn't read this book merely because of the author bio at the end of the book. When I choose a book to read, I start by reading about the author. Although it's only a glimpse into the life of the person who wrote the story I'm about to dive into, I like to get an idea of who they are and maybe where they came from.
The author bio for Leigh Bardugo did nothing for me. I seriously thought about not reading the book due to the way it was written. I don't want to go into a lot of detail; I am suppose to be writing a review of her book, not biography at the end. Let's just say that I felt that Leigh Bardugo didn't seem like she understood a "normal," every day life. 'Nough said.
Now, let's get to her book. "Shadow and Bone" caught my attention when I had Googled the best books of 2012 and that one was on the list. It was really the cover that got me curious. With a Russian look and the dramatic red against the gray and black, I wanted to learn more. So I read the back cover. Yep, I was hooked; I wanted to read more.
The world that Leigh creates is a wonderful combination of Russian, fantasy, and darkness (the evil kind). It was drawn in immediately. Some fantasy stories can be hard for me to follow along because of the unfamiliar wording. Words that I can't pronounce or don't understand make it hard for me to keep reading. "Shadow and Bone has some of that. I did have to flip back to the map a few times to make sure I knew what and where the story was but overall, it was an easy read. I really enjoyed learning about the Shadow Fold and trying to figure out what was happening to Alina and how her life would ever be normal again.
Alina is a character that I connected with immediately. It's clear that she is flawed. She feels small and unimportant. She often stands in the shadows of others. She is a quiet map maker, of little importance.
Time comes for her regiment to cross the Shadow Fold (a dark force filled with ravenous creatures called the volcra). This fold is what divides the country of Ravka. Few survive the crossing but it is the only way to reach the true sea.
A group of Grisha come for the crossing. They are powerful & magical people led by the Darkling. As the Grisha and the regiment begin the terrifying journey into the fold, they are attacked immediately by the hungry volcra. Many are swept away and the darkness is filled with screams of terror and the screeching of the incoming threat. 
Alina, is attacked and her best friend, Mal, comes to her aid, only to be mauled himself; seriously wounded. She blocks him with her body as just as she is about to be attacked herself, she sees a bright white light, sending the volcra screeching away. Alina passes out but when she wakes up, finds that she is in more trouble than she realized.
She meets the Darkling and is taken to live with the Grisha because it is believed that she is the long-awaited Sun-Summoner. 
Her adventures continue as she tries to train and control her powers. She tries to live a new life among the Grisha in a palace, wearing fine things. But where is Mal? Will she ever be able to see him again?
I really liked the progression of this book. Alina's character grows immensely and she has to learn who to trust and why. There are twists and turns and I found myself questioning who was truly the "bad guy." 
I recommend this book for teens and adults. If you like fantasy, or dystopian story lines, you will love this book! I look forward to reading more!

Now, "Throne of Glass" by Sarah J. Maas
This book was very different than I thought it would be! I wasn't sure where the author was taking me but in the end, I enjoyed this story very much.
As I understand it, "Throne of Glass" started out as an online publication. Due to the number of followers, Sarah J. Maas ended up revising it and writing the now published book. So some may be familiar with this book already.
It starts with a young woman in prison, Celaena Sardothien. She is in one of the worst prisons and is barely surviving. She is approached by the King's son, Prince Dorian, to be his champion at the King's upcoming competition. To win would mean her freedom after several years of service and lose would mean either returning back to prison or losing her own life. 
Celaena reluctently accepts and is soon at the glass castle to be trained with others to compete for the King's Champion. Celaena is watched over by Chaol Westfall, Captain of the guard. He doesn't let her out of his sight, knowing that she will try to escape or even kill.
Amid the upcoming competition, several of the competitor's begin dying. Killed is a gruesome way, Celaena now has to focus on not just winning the competition but also to stay alive long enough to win. 
I like the action scenes in the book. I was able to keep up and felt they were written well. I also liked the character of Celaena, although at times she's a little too arrogant. She learns a lot as she stays at the castle and is very strong-willed. 
There is a love triangle that forms and it becomes clear that the two men wanting her attention are completely different. The trouble I had with this triangle is that the two men were so vastly different! She was different with each of them and I wasn't sure who she really wanted to be. I wasn't too happy with her choice at the end either. But I think that's more of a personal choice.
One of the things I really liked and want to point out is that even though this is a book about a girl assassin  I felt that it was a clean book. Yes, there are murders in it and Celaena isn't afraid to kill or to think about killing but there were times when the author could have taken the story to a very negative place but didn't. One example being that Chaol asks Celaena if she had ever been raped while in prison (not quite so boldly but you get what he's asking). She tells him no, that she killed a man that tried to touch her, so one ever tried again. So it's implied that Celaena still has her virtue. I really like that! I wouldn't mind my teenage daughter reading this book because it is clean. There are a few (and I mean a few) swear words in it but other than the killing (which sounds weird to even say this), the story is a great read for teens and adults alike.

So these are the words of writer/reader who has her own opinion! I hope that it's at least helpful in deciding whether or not  you want to read these books!

My current book is a brand new book (coming April, 2013) called "Vivatera" by Candace J. Thomas. I was able to get an ARC, so I have been reading it over the last few days. More to come on this review later.

Happy Reading!