16 November 2014

Becoming Beauty

Hi everyone. Today we have the talented and lovely Sarah Boucher. Her debut novel, Becoming Beauty, just came out. Go buy it. Now.

Normally I would tell you all to be nice, but Sarah is pretty tough. Do your worst!

1-What did you have for breakfast this morning? What do you WISH you had had for breakfast?
I didn't have bacon. 
I wish I'd had bacon. Lots and lots of bacon.
I love bacon so much that when I see animal rights activists'* pictures of sweet little piggies tagged with Why would you ever want to eat this??? I want to reply, Mmmm...bacon! 
(*No offense to animal rights activists: Go Animals!)
2-What color of car makes you roll your eyes or blatantly make fun?
That's a little tricky because I've had a revolution in taste over the last few years and have fallen in love with bright colors & patterns. Pink, maybe? And any color of Smart Car and/or large dudes driving Smart Cars.
3-Tell us about your dream closet? Would all of your shoes get special beds?
Actually, one of the selling points of my condo was the large indoor closet with built-in shelving for shoes. When I stepped in there the first time, it was as if angels were singing. I think I said, "This is where my shoes will live!" Yes, I'm that girl.
4-If you and the main character in Becoming Beauty both had more money than you knew what to do with, who would end up with more shoes? Handbags?
Yes and yes. Bella and I share a love for fancy things. However, she'd probably invest in more jewelry while I'd expand my collection of maxi skirts and maxi dresses. No matter what we spent our money on, a shopping spree with Bella would be a blast! And really, really expensive.
5-What are your feelings on unshaven men? 5 o'clock shadow?
Uh, hello. This is what it see when I turn on my iPad:
Hello, nurse! Let me add that both main men in Becoming Beauty are beardy fellows, so I'm obviously not adverse to the idea of beardliness, though the idea of kissing it is another subject.

6-You seem to cook a lot. Is this your secret plan for taking over the world? One stomach at a time?
It's my secret plan for everyone looking normal, well-fed, lovable, and maybe a little plumpy. Really though, baking is something I learned from my mom & settling into the cooking groove relaxes me when everything else goes haywire. Plus, at the end you have something delicious to eat. Hopefully.

7-On a scale from 1-10, how snarky are you? What about your main character? Feel free to expound. I'd be disappointed if you didn't.
Wow. A snarkiness scale. I wouldn't even know how to rate myself...
What I will say is that being raised with five brothers doesn't make you into a pretty, pretty princess. And since Bella is composed of the best & worst of me, she is quite sarcastic. However, where I try to make people laugh, Bella speaks her mind, even to crotchety, old Beasts. Bella's not nearly the people pleaser that I am.
Now If you'd given me an awesomeness scale...

8-In terms of dessert, how did typing the final sentence of Becoming Beauty taste?
Can we go with the Triffle/Shepherd's Pie Rachel made on Friends?
"It tastes like feet!"
The final line of what was then Bella, has been hacked to pieces and rewritten at least 20 times. Some people struggle with beginnings or middles, but crafting that last sentence and tying things up in a neat bow without sounding completely stupid was definitely a challenge. 

9-Take 150 words and sell us on your book. Okay, maybe 200. Make it count.
The Beast has lived in isolation for years, nursing his wounds and hiding his shame from the world.  His seclusion is destroyed by the arrival of Bella, his new maidservant, who proves she isn’t the Beauty her name would indicate.
With a less-than-sweet nature and an inborn sense of entitlement, Bella refuses to be cowed—even by someone as imposing as the Beast. In no time, Bella finds herself railing at and casting insults at her new master, while pondering ways to escape.
Caught between the two is the Beast’s sole companion, Jack, who has remained loyal to his master throughout the years, but is intrigued by Bella’s spirit. 

For the first time in her life, Bella must choose to set aside her dreams of becoming the pampered mistress of a wealthy household to help others escape the pain of the past. But she may find the price too high to pay.

10-What part of Becoming Beauty will take your reader's breath away? (Spoilers are up to you.)
There's some primo kissing that doesn't quite make your ears pop, but might make your toes curl deliciously. And there are definitely some reveals regarding the Beast and Jack and Bella's feelings toward them that I had fun writing and watching my writing group read. When people say, "If you leave [insert character's name here] out in the wind, I'm going to beat you!" it actually makes you feel more empowered than not. Making someone love, hate, and go on a journey with your characters is what all authors aspire to.

About the Author
Sarah E. Boucher spends her days instilling young children with the same love of literature she has known since childhood. After hours, she pens her own stories and nurses an unhealthy obsession for handbags, high heels, baking, and British television. Sarah is a graduate of Brigham Young University, who currently lives and teaches in Ogden, Utah. Becoming Beauty is her first novel.

Contact Sarah on her website SarahEBoucher.com, or find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, or Goodreads.

I told you to buy the book.
Have you done it?
Let me make it easier for you.

Becoming Beauty is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and books & things. Add it to your Goodreads shelf today!

10 November 2014

When is a Setback Actually a Step Forward?

This is a question that I've been struggling with this week.

As many of you know, I earlier this year, had two novels published. The second in my trilogy is currently with my publisher, and I have another book-a totally unrelated novel-ready for beta readers.

Well, at least it was ready for beta readers. Until I decided to get some professional advice on the matter.

Novels are tricky things. You could give the exact same plot to five people, have them write a book on it and come up with five very different stories.

The problem with that is that I can re-write my own story ten times, end up with ten different stories, and have no idea what the best version actually is. I love them all. Like candy bars. (I'd say children, but I don't have any, and I'm allergic to cats and dogs.)

So I called an editor. We chatted for an hour regarding what my book is about and a few plot points that were either good or weak. He even came up with a fix for an aspect of the main character that I've been struggling with.

All that was good.

Then I asked him the question. The question that changed it all.

"Should I publish this as one book, or split it into two?"

The book is over 90,000 words. A bit thick for YA.

We talked about it. he encouraged me to add 30,000 words and split it into two books. Which I wasn't horribly upset with until the next day.

You see, I have an outline that is really good. It works, it's solid, it flows well and I've jammed every bit of story I could into it.

And now I have to change it.

Not only once, but twice. Now I have to figure out how to make the first part of the book-with some additions-a complete story with a satisfying but still slightly mysterious ending. Then I have to do it again for the second half.

It's like I've already painted my house once, and now I'm only using the original color on about 40% of the outside. The rest is brand, spanking new. 


But I keep telling myself that it will be fine. It will be a better story. Just as soon as I figure out what promise I'm making to the reader in the first chapter that I'm NOT following through on in the finale.

Right now it feels like a setback. Later it might feel like a step forward.

I'll keep you informed.

03 November 2014

Poker Face

Ever play that game Balderdash? You know, the one where you get a word and have to make up a meaning for it. Words like egalitarian, remonstrance and, well balderdash.

I’m terrible at this game. Horrible. Not because I don’t know what words mean, nor is it because I’m not quick enough to make up a reasonable definition for a word. No, the problem is that I can’t lie. I have no poker face.

Well, okay, I can lie, I’m just really, really, really ,really bad at it.

How bad, you ask?

Perfect strangers can tell when I’m lying.  Children know I’m lying. Dogs and cats can probably tell too.

I swear it’s genetic. In my blood. Hormonal. Maybe there’s a pill for it.

Allow me an example.

My husband and his family love to play games. Strategy games. Hard games. Games that pit the players against each other.

Now I’m not a huge fan of such games, but I’ve learned to enjoy them, or to at least enjoy the time spent with the other people playing. I’ve even won a few times. I know, crazy.

But there’s this one game. Battlestar Galactica. You may have heard of the game or watched the old TV show or the new one. Trust me, the old one is like a triple decker grilled cheese sandwich with extra cheese. The new one is odd. Both are cool in their own rights.

In the new version of the TV show, the Cylons look like humans and a few of them are running around in the human fleet. Some of them don’t even know that they’re Cylons.

So in the board game, the first half has all of the players working together against the Cylons and all of the other problems in the fleet.  However, you each get dealt a loyalty card. This happens twice in the game. One card states that you’re a Cylon. Surprise.

My husband’s family is ruthless at this stuff. They start accusing one another before anyone has even had a turn. They throw one another in the brig just for spite. One of them is an interrogator for crying out loud. Pretty much, I’m totally out of my depth.

The first time we played, I got dealt the Cylon card half way through the game. Yeah, they all figured it out before I got a turn to play. I can keep my mouth shut, I can chatter. Heck, I can probably be in the other room and they would know.  Maybe they can smell it.

The second time we played, Jon was the Cylon. He got away before they threw him in the brig. The third time we played, it was me again.

I had a plan the third time. I just kept saying, “Why yes, I am the Cylon” whenever anyone asked me about it. Then I got the Cylon card and someone asked me and I said, “What? Me? I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

I broke my own system. Because I can’t lie. It is both endearing and pathetic. In games, mostly pathetic.

The thing is, I don’t even want to be the bad guy. The other two in the family are DYING to try to kill all of us with boarding parties of robots that destroy all humans. Why me?

I swear it’s a curse. Or some universal law that I have mocked and am now being punished for. This seems to be as bad as or worse than the dice problem that I have.

Seriously, what did I do to deserve this?

Granted, I won the second time around. All humans were eradicated as the population counter ticked down to zero. Go me.

But I’m still trying to figure out how exactly those odds work. 2 out of 3 games with four players and I’m the one who gets to be a Cylon. Twice.

As this was going on, I was thinking about writing (because when am I not thinking about writing?) and it came to me that a character will have flaws that they can’t really fix. They have bad luck or can’t lie or can’t hold their liquor or whatever. And the universe of my plot is going to exploit that exact weakness/problem.

Wait. I just figured it out. I’m a character in a novel.

Hey, why don’t I have super powers? This is a lame novel!