My Writing Journey So Far…

In May, I participated in an online auction for Diabetes Research where the prizes consisted (almost exclusively) of publishing related items: i.e., ARCs of novels, book collections, author meet-and-greets, and editor/agent critiques. I was fortunate enough (by making a hefty donation to the cause) to win a critique by a senior editor at a small publishing house.  The critique is of the synopsis and first 3 chapters of my unpublished manuscript; however, since the critique has not come back to me yet, this post is not about that. What I want to write about today is a question that the editor posed to me when she sent me her instructions on how to submit my materials. What she asked from me was this:

“When you submit, be sure and tell me anything and everything about where you are.  Are you new, have you been working on your craft for a while, a frequent contest finalist, are you self-publishing? […] Are you getting requests easily but then polite declines from editors who look at your work?  Is this a new genre or sub-genre for you? […] Please offer any context or information that could be helpful so I know where you are in your writing career.”

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw this request. I was floored by the fact that she was willing to not only ready my writing, but to learn about me and my journey. Writers don’t often have the opportunity to share our journey with editors and agents when we submit our work. We have to cut those things out of our query letters and let the agent focus on the manuscript itself. I have been working on BLOOD OF ESTA for ten years, so it was refreshing and exciting to be able to share a decades worth of struggles and successes with an editor. I am glad she will get to understand were I am at in the process while she reviews my work.

So without any further adieu, I will share with you the same journey I shared with the small press editor.  Continue reading My Writing Journey So Far…

Book Review: The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner (Maze Runner, #1)The Maze Runner by James Dashner

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I give The Maze Runner between 3 and 3.5 stars. It gets 4+ starts for the overall concept, plot and world building. But only 2.5 stars for writing quality, character development and story structure.

I felt that the voice was bland, overly passive and highly repetitive. Most of the characters were one-dimensional, which made it hard to distinguish who was who. Most of the Gladers seemed highly interchangeable as characters, even the Keepers. Only Thomas, Minho and Chuck had any depth. Terasa had the opportunity for depth, as the only girl in the crew, but she was as one-dimensional as the rest. As a result, I couldn’t really connect with the characters at all. Not being able to connect with the characters made reading The Maze Runner a bit of a chore.  Continue reading Book Review: The Maze Runner

Book Reviews

I’m not really a fan of New Year’s resolutions, but I am keen on the idea of mid-year resolutions. Since we have reached the mid-point of 2014, I have resolved to blog more. One way I plan on keeping this resolution is by posting reviews of the books I am currently reading. I just finished James Dashner’s The Maze Runner  and will post my review tomorrow. Most of the books I review will be speculative fiction (since that is mainly what I read and write). I’m starting with a traditionally published novel (actually, the first few reviews will be of books from big publishing houses), but plan on reviewing self-published and small press books as well. If I stick to my plan, you can expect a new review every two weeks.

Intro to My Writing

Part II of my in-depth interview with myself will discuss my journey as an aspiring writer. You’ll have to wait another day or two for that to be posted. In the meantime, enjoy an excerpt from my novel “Blood of Esta.” I’ve pasted the prologue below.




N. M. Carrara

Thirty Years Earlier

Montivi, Sansolo

Rayina Esta’s hair, once an iridescent red and black, clung to her hollow cheeks. She looked down at the newborn cradled in her wasted arms. The blue-grey light of the approaching dawn illuminated the child’s face. It was still slick with afterbirth, having been pulled from Rayina’s dying womb only a moment before. Her time on this earth was ending. The whispers of the Earth had told her so months ago. The moment the Mietmoda had succeeded in killing all other members of her race, Rayina knew she too would die. But she fought with all of her power to keep the essence of her soul inside her dying body long enough to hold her baby girl one time.  Continue reading Intro to My Writing

Top 5 Things I, as a Coach, Look for in a High School Cheerleader

jlhs JYFC

Cheerleading. Why “cheerleading” isn’t considered a word is beyond me. My spellchecker always wants to make it cheer-leading or cheerleader. I try to abide by my spellchecker as much as I can, but I just can’t on this one. I will always write it incorrectly as “cheerleading.” Make it a word already, Merriam-Webster Online.

Now that I’ve finished my rant, cheerleading is my main hobby. It consumes most of my free time. I volunteer coach, and manage, the cheer program for my town’s youth league (that would be the black and red “Jackson” logo on the left). And I’m an assistant coach at one of my town’s two high schools (see the lion head logo on the right). There was once a time when cheerleading only spanned a few months out of the year. That time no longer exists. Now I’m lucky if I get one month off. But I can’t really complain–I love this damn sport (and yes, I also incorrectly call it a sport). Cheerleading is my abusive relationship.  Continue reading Top 5 Things I, as a Coach, Look for in a High School Cheerleader

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