Follow Friday

Happy Friday Book Bloggers! It’s that time again…
To join the fun and make new book blogger friends, just follow these simple rules:

1. (Required) Follow the Follow My Book Blog Friday Host { Parajunkee.com } and any one else you want to follow.
2. (Required) Follow the Featured Bloggers.

3. Put your Blog name & URL in the Linky thing at Parajunkee.
4. Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say hi in your comments.
5. Follow Follow Follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few.
6. If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the Love…and the followers.
Q: How many books do you read in a week? And in what format do you read them, or listen to them?

 
Lately it seems I am only getting in one book a week. The good news is that with so many great blogger reviews I’m at least managing to make the most of my reads! Happiness! Since this is a holiday weekend I’ll get some extra reading time… on my iPhone.
It seems this is the most common place for me to read anymore. It definitely has its drawbacks, but when I’m dashing through the airport (because I’m always late) my Kindle is just one more thing to carry. I do my best to be a conscientious traveler (IE- not the girl who holds up security or argues about carrying on a giant bottle of shampoo) and this is just another way for me to travel light and still get in a good read!

For the Love of… Editing?

Snapple Real Fact #832: Brain waves can power an electric train.
(How cool is that? I have no idea how it works, but that doesn’t make it any less awesome!)
So, earlier this week I mentioned that I’m passionate about good editing. It wasn’t a dig at the book I was reviewing. It was just me jumping up and down on my soapbox. I mean, if you don’t get to spout off every now and then, what’s the point of having a blog?
Okay, so what you really want to know is why I am so passionate about good editing? (To be fair, if you’re asking I have to assume you either don’t read that much or you’ve never read a terribly edited book!) So, why good editing?
1. Readers deserve it. They’re paying for the book after all. Typos and incorrect word use are a distraction and detract from the story.
2. In the face of an ongoing quest to legitimize indie books and their authors, examples of typos, spelling errors, and poor formatting are fodder for traditional publishing houses. Yes, the very same publishing houses who would tell you the only good books are the ones that make the shelves of big box retailers.
3. There are a lot of great writers out there working to provide us (the readers) with books that may never make it in the mainstream market, but which are wonderful in their own right. I’d hate for their hard work to be diminished by blanket stereotypes regarding the quality of indie books.
Believe me, I get it. Indie authors operate on a shoestring budget. It can’t be easy to be your own publisher, publicist, marketer, and all around guru of all things publishing related. It’s undoubtedly overwhelming. (See? I’m tired just writing about it!) But with an infinite number of freelance editors just a mouse click away, it’s one task I’d be more than happy to farm out!
I’ve always loved to read. And I’ve always love to write. But that doesn’t mean grammar is my thing. Just ask my 10th grade English teacher, who btw, you’ll find moonlighting at FYE in the mall.

Review: Hollowland

Snapple Real Fact #760: Dolphins sleep with one eye open.
(And you thought you couldn’t get a good night’s sleep!)
Well, it seems we all survived the apocalypse and the only zombies that showed up at my house were in Amanda Hocking’s Hollowland, which by the way was an excellent read. I don’t usually do the reviewing thing, but I figured what the heck.  I’m expanding my reading horizons, so I might as well expand my blogging repertoire as well.
The DL on Hollowand:
Hollowland is the first book in The Hollows series by Amanda Hocking. For those of you not familiar with Hocking, she’s an indie author who recently reached millionaire status by self-publishing and selling her books on sites like Amazon (where I consequently picked up my copy for $0.99).
Description:

“This is the way the world ends – not with a bang or a whimper, but with zombies breaking down the back door.”

Nineteen-year-old Remy King is on a mission to get across the wasteland left of America, and nothing will stand in her way – not violent marauders, a spoiled rock star, or an army of flesh-eating zombies.

Review:
A pleasant surprise! What worked for me? The kickass heroine (I love women who can take care of themselves!) , just the right amount of levity to counterbalance the parade of deadly zombies, and the touching relationships that emerged among the central characters. As Remy and her ragtag band of followers made their way across the country, it was difficult not to get sucked in. After all, who could resist a zombie eating lion name Ripley?
Hocking did a nice job developing most of the characters and it didn’t take them long to find their way into my heart. Yes, it’s an unlikely tale of a zombies, but the characters were real and it was easy to identify with their problems, some of which were every day (read: boys!) and some of which were more, well, apocalyptic. I laughed and I cried which is more than I can say for a lot of books.
All in all, a good read. However, I do wish this book had been more thoroughly edited. I realize this was published before Hocking reached her current status and long before her book deal with St. Martin’s (Oh, did I forget to mention that selling a half million e-books will get you signed?), but good editing is something I feel passionately about.
With better editing, I’d have paid more than a dollar for this one. I couldn’t put it down and I look forward to seeing the next book in the series. Yeah, there were some flaws, but Hocking’s a young writer and I’ve followed enough NYT best-selling authors to know that with time (and practice) will come a more polished product. What can I say? I’m a sucker for underdogs. Recommended for zombie lovers and romantics everywhere!
J.J. Bonds

Follow My Book Blog Friday

Now for the Follow Fun!

Q. It’s circle time. Time for us to open up and share. Can you tell us FIVE quirky habits or things about you? We all have them…

J.J.’ Quirky Habits:

1. I read on my iPhone… While my perfectly good Kindle is sitting in arm’s reach. My last three books were read entirely on my phone. I read at the airport, in the car, at the grocery store, on my couch. It drives my husband crazy.

2. I refuse to know how much I weigh. When I go to the doctor’s and am *forced* to get one the scale, I close my eyes or turn around backward. Why ruin a perfectly good day with that information?

3. I’m an obsessive cleaner even though I hate it. I clean my house every weekend, top to bottom, and complain the whole time. (Ask my husband. He will confirm.) I have no idea why I do this.

4. I iron everything. Including jeans. Call it a fear of the inevitable wrinkle.

5. When I’m nervous, upset, bored, or just being me, I pull out my eyelashes. It’s the number one habit I can’t seem to break and actually has some long clinical name I can’t pronounce or spell.

Happy Friday!
J.J. Bonds

Zombie Apocalypse

Snapple Real Fact #910: Less than 2% of the water on Earth is fresh.

(Hmm… My Brita just moved up on my list of favorite things. JK. I’m not a complete twit. I get it. 98% of the water on Earth is saltwater or other. And yes, mom, I realize that even tap water is filtered before being pumped out to the masses. Still doesn’t mean I’m going to drink it without my Brita.)

Talk about a perfect storm. And no, I don’t mean the five days of rain in the forecast or the ongoing flood watch.
First, my sister sent me a link to the worlds’ first (and probably only) zombie proof house (Check it out at www.all-that-is-interesting.com ).  Anyone who knows me knows that my husband is OBSESSED with zombie preparedness. So while she probably thought this was hilarious, we found it kind of, you know, interesting and enviable. Come on… It’s a win/win. He gets a zombie proof house, I get an indoor pool!
Then, I’m warned that 5/21 (which is most notably my husband’s birthday) is scheduled to be the end of the world. Sorry prophets, no time for that. I’ve got a To Do list that’s far from fun size!
And now the CDC is getting in on the action with a ‘Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse’ blog post. How cool is that? Very, I think. I love zombies! Okay, but seriously. I commend the CDC for finding a relevant way to connect with the public. Kudos. BUT… there were some big, glaring oversights in the post (says the wife of a zombie preparedness expert!). They hit all the highlights for disaster preparedness, but I have to tell you… they’re amateurs.
For example, I know that one of the first things you do is fill up all of your bathtubs with water because those couple of gallons the CDC wants you to pack away in the basement will run out. And when society breaks down, clean water will be one of the first things to go.
Oh, and most notably missing from the blog is an actual means of self-defense. Really? Just one lousy utility knife? Chances are you’ll get your brains sucked out before you have a chance to use it! I recommend something a little larger and more menacing, but that’s just me. 
So, in light of all this glorious zombie-mania, here’s my contribution to the crazy! Enjoy!
Top 5 Favorite Zombie Movies:
1.      Resident Evil
2.      28 Days Later
3.      Zombieland
4.      Shaun of the Dead
5.      Dawn of the Dead
(Disclaimer: Most notably missing is George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead because it’s kind of a given!)
J.J. Bonds

Weekend Love

Snapple Real Fact #687: The average cat can jump five times as high as its tail is long.

(Big deal. I have a dog that can run backwards and one that can catch a treat off of her nose! Sorry, cat lovers. Ours will always be a dog house!)

Everyone loves the weekend, right? Probably you don’t care why I love it so much, but here goes anway!

1. Freedom: No day-job work (usually).
2. Friday Night Ritual: Me, my husband, pizza and Netflix. (I know. Pretty sexy. Don’t hate.)
3. Blogging: Finding the time to post on my site and catching up on my favs!
4. Reading: This weekend I read Kiersten White’s debut novel Paranormalcy. L-O-V-E-D it!
5. Writing: Unlimited time to work on my manuscript and rework potential problem areas.

So last week I did a little whining about my rejection letters. In my ongoing quest for full disclosure, I have to admit that I did have one agent take a hard look at my manuscript. Talk about highs and lows! Anyway, said agent elected to pass based on the first 3 chapters. I was beyond disappointed. I almost cried. But I put on my big girl pants and reminded myself that it’s the name of the game. There’s no crying in baseball and there sure as hell isn’t room for tears in the publishing industry. I’ve been told over and over that it’s a cutthroat business.

And I thought I was ready. I work in a pretty tough business today. I’ve had my ideas stolen, been lied to, stepped on, and stabbed in the back. Trust me. Skin gets thicker. But this feels more personal somehow. I guess because they’re my own words and no matter how dedicated I’ve been to my day job and no matter how much pride I take in my work, it’s just not as near and dear to my heart as this manuscript. For me it symbolizes the fruition of a lifelong dream and the opportunity to do something I really love.

Here’s the upshot of last weeks rejection: I got the message loud and clear. The opening of my MS needed more punch. I certainly don’t want to land in the ‘did not finish’ pile and I want the reader to want more. So I spent the weekend reworking the intro and I feel good about it. Yeah, I wish I’d figured it out sooner, but there’s no value in second guessing the past. What’s done is done. Time to learn a little something and move on.

J.J. Bonds

Happy Follow Friday!

Now for the Follow Fun!
 
 
Follow Friday is a weekly meme courtesy of one of my own favorite blogs, Parajunkee’s View. Each week PJ posts a question which I’ll repost and answer. Feel free to repost or just comment below! As if I needed another reason to look forward to Fridays!


Q. The Blogger Apocalypse made me a little emotional. What is the most emotional scene in a book that you have read lately?

A. I just finished Divergent by Veronica Roth and it definitely made me tear up a little. Since it’s a new release, I don’t want to give any spoilers, but suffice it to say the book was gripping! An awesome debut novel. Highly recommended for fans of The Hunger Games!

Humble Pie, Sour Grapes, and the Bitter Taste of Rejection

Snapple Real Fact #883: Butterflies taste with their hind feet.
(Okay, so apparently rejection could taste worse; it could be infused with the taste of feet).
Today’s topic: The dreaded rejection letter. I got my first rejection letter (Okay, more than one, but who’s counting really?). I can’t say it’s a warm and fuzzy first, but it’s a first nonetheless, and one that I hope will bring me closer to my dream of being a published author.
I won’t lie. Rejection stings. Maybe more than a little. But it’s part of the process and I knew that going into it. I knew that publishing was extremely competitive (especially in the explosive YA genre) and that the odds were far from in my favor.  I knew that I was going to have to knock on a lot of doors and aggressively work to find people who believe in my work as much as I do.
In fact, the first rejection was kind of a relief; something I was expecting and just had to get through. After that, it was all downhill. Now I’m a little afraid of my email, although I haven’t stopped checking it compulsively. I just get a little more nervous each time I hit the refresh button on my inbox.
So, here I sit, a little dejected, posting my disappointment for the world to read although sharing openly like this is definitely not first nature for me. My real first instinct is to hide that which could be embarrassing or show weakness. But I want this blog to be genuine, so here’s to honesty!
I will say that each literary agent who has elected to pass on my work has been very polite and professional.  Knowing the volume of queries they receive, I truly am appreciative of the responses, even the ones that say ‘no, thanks’. At least I know where I stand. If the first twenty say no, I’ll find twenty more.
Despite this week’s disappointment, I still have faith. I certainly haven’t given up on myself or my dream. After all, I never expected overnight success.
I guess it could be worse. I could be one of these guys (or gals): http://slushpilehell.tumblr.com.
Seriously. I laughed so hard I cried when I found this site. My husband came running up the stairs to make sure I was okay. I now follow this blog for a good laugh and a reality check.
The best advice I can give myself and others?
Keep chasing the dream. No matter how elusive it might seem today.

Now for the Follow Fun!
 
For those of you who’ve been reading my blog, this is my first Follow Friday. This segment will be a regular Friday post courtesy of one of my own favorite blogs, Parajunkee’s View. Each week PJ posts a question which I’ll repost and answer. Feel free to repost or just comment below!

Q. Circle time! Time to share. What character in a book would you most like to be, what character in a book would you most like to date?

A. This is an easy one! Since today’s Friday and it’s been a long week I can easily say I’d like to be Jolie Wilkins from Toil and Trouble. Yeah, she could be a little tougher, but right now Queen of the Underworld sounds glorious! As for the character I’d most like to date? Rourke from J.D. Robb’s Fantasy series. Sexy, powerful, and dangerous. What more could a girl want? (Other than a wonderful husband who cooks dinner, which I already have!)

Must Love/Hate Queries

Snapple Real Fact #878: Only male fireflies can fly.
(At first I was a little indignant at Mother Nature’s slight against the female of the species, but then I remembered chasing fireflies as a kid. Only the ones flying in the field got captured and placed in jelly jars… or worse!)
This week’s rant is all about query letters. What’s a query letter? Perhaps you’re better off not knowing, but since you’re probably still reading, I’ll keep writing. A query letter is a one pager designed to pique the interest of a literary agent who (if the stars align in your favor) will champion your book with established publishing houses.
It sounds so easy, right? After all, I’ve already written 300+ pages and finished my first novel. What’s another page?
Well, that one page was more difficult to write than any page in the actual manuscript. Maybe more difficult than writing all of the pages. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t challenging to condense 300 pages into 1, but that wasn’t the hardest part. The hardest part was the pressure. The knowledge that this 1 page was bound for a harried agent who probably reads thousands of query letters a month (and likely rejects 99. 9% of them). Oh, and did I mention that I was going to query the agents who represent some of my favorite authors?
Yep, that’s PRESSURE. Three paragraphs designed to make them say ‘I want more’; three paragraphs to make an impression.
Needless to say, I agonized over the query for hours on end. I agonized over it for days, actually. I changed words, bugged my proofreaders, and chugged Snapple all the while doing my best to ignore Sabot, my seemingly attention starved cock-a-poo.  The end result? One very numb butt (I really need to get cushions for my dining room chairs) and one edgy query.
I don’t know what the odds are of gaining literary representation. Probably 1:1,000,000. Probably I have a better chance of hitting the Mega Millions, but you only live once. So I’ve sent out twenty query letters and now the really hard part starts: waiting.
I’m not very good at waiting. Ask anyone who knows me. I’ve been checking my email like a crazy person since I hit send on the last email. It’s actually getting a little compulsive. My husband says this is a good exercise in patience and actually had the audacity to suggest that I limit myself to checking email once per day. (Yes, I know. It sounds like I’m married to a complete stranger… because there’s no way I possess that kind of self-control).
So, this is me (crazy/impatient) with my fingers crossed hoping that a little bit of talent and a little bit of luck will take my journey to the next level!
J.J. Bonds