Archive by Author

TWIST AND BOUNCE: How a story got twisted

25 Sep

I’m kind of mad at my fellow Chick Tracey because she already came up with the idea to cheat and use TWIST and BOUNCE in one post. *stamps around pouting*

Okay, so I’m not really mad. It just shows we’re brilliant (or that we put things off–in my case, WAY off)!

OLIVIA TWISTED debuts in less than two months! *Cue freaking out*

This month, I thought I’d share some of the ways I twisted the original characters of OLIVER TWIST to make it a contemporary story, giving you a little insight to the world of OLIVIA TWISTED.

CHARACTERS

Olivia (Liv) Westfield (Oliver Twist)
Olivia, like Oliver, is an orphan. While Oliver lived his young life in a workhouse, Olivia is raised in the foster care system. Like Oliver, she yearns for love and, regardless of a rough life, is still innocent at heart. But though Oliver never really did anything illegal on his own, Olivia made some wrong choices. Sometimes making the wrong choices helps guide a person to making the right ones later.

Z (The Artful Dodger)
I think I might’ve had a tiny crush on the Artful Dodger when I was a little kid and saw the movie Oliver! Just a tiny one, mind you, before I realized he probably should take a bath. So maybe that influenced my decision to make Z the hot bad boy who rides a Ducati. But I always liked how the Artful Dodger took Oliver in hand and was a friend to him (albeit a friend with underhanded motives). I thought this was the perfect opportunity to brew a romance with Liv (I like brewing things, you know). His internal turmoil begins when he starts thinking about someone else besides himself for once in his life.

Nancy (Fagin/Nancy)
Oh, poor Nancy from the original story—what a horrible hand she was dealt in life. Seriously. But I really liked her and the way she fought against everything to help Oliver, even though it led to her demise. I made her the “mom” of the Monroe Street gang because I always thought she deserved better. Though sometimes her decisions are a little messed up (hello, Bill Sykes).

Bill Sykes (Bill Sikes)
Every party has a pooper, that’s why we invited you: Bill Sykes. Yes, Bill is the leader of the hackers (and, cough cough, other homes of ill-repute). He was evil in Oliver Twist. He is evil in my story. Evil can be so much fun (*rubs hands together evilly*)!

Sam (Charley Bates)
Yes, I could’ve named her Charley after the Artful Dodger’s sidekick. But Sam is the type not to do anything because someone told her to. She was Sam to me from the very beginning, and her character is quite happy with that name. Sam is the fun-loving friend and partner of Z’s who befriends Olivia right off the bat. Sam is much closer to Olivia than Charley was to Oliver, though, like Z, her motives aren’t always well intentioned.

BOUNCE over to my website at www.vivibarnes.com to see more on how I twisted the classic. Then BOUNCE over to www.oliviatwisted.com to check out the new trailer for Olivia Twisted, which debuted this past week on www.Hypable.com (there’s still a couple days left to enter to win a signed book and swag)!

Dizzy yet? 😉

Add OLIVIA TWISTED to your Goodreads shelf.

Pre-order OLIVIA TWISTED from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million

OliviaTwistedCover

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FLARE! Shine bright, o talented ones!

1 Aug

So I’ve been half-watching (cuz you know – laptop’s always on the lap, duh) these amazing competitions on So You Think You Can Dance and America’s Got Talent, and these people have some serious talent! These days, we’re accustomed to watching the ones who “aren’t good enough” get booted off these shows, but HELLO—even the ones who go home are sometimes incredible!

Which makes me think about some of the reviews I’ve read on some incredible books lately. There are simply amazing books that have made me laugh, cry, and everything in between. Then I go on Goodreads to find out that not everyone feels the way I do. It’s truly shocking when I see a one-star review on a book I thought was fantastic! Sometimes I wonder, “Did you read the same thing I did?”

But it happens. With my book debut just three months out, I admit that this thought has plagued me. Especially considering the company I work for in my day job, I’m used to having happy people around me constantly. Very happy! (See if you can figure it out.) Now I’m putting myself out there—wait, not me, just my book—and who knows what will happen. I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure that most authors feel this way—nervous about reviews, hoping the gifs aren’t too horrible, and hoping no one throws virtual rotten eggs at your door.

I just have to keep in mind that as with the crazy talent I see on these shows, everyone’s opinions differ. It’s not personal, it’s just business–or whatever.

So yeah, this is probably the closest I’ll get to a review-paranoid post (no promises). I am just grateful to know I’m in good company, regardless of what happens!

So go forth and shine, o talented ones, and don’t fear the reaper of rejection. Can someone remind me of this later?

DIVE! When you suck at blogging, blog more

18 Jun

So I’ve come to a realization about myself. I suck at blogging. Really—it seems hard to come up with one smart thing to say each month (how do you bloggers do it?), and I use the word “smart” loosely. So what does one do when one sucks at blogging?

I bet you didn’t guess start a new blog.

But that’s what I’m doing. In addition to my role on this blog as one of the 4 Chicks (‘cause I’m not going anywhere!), I’ve started a blog on my own website. Diving into new waters, as it were. And that one I need to really keep up with, since I don’t have 3 other friends to cover for me do the dirty work post in my absence. I can’t guarantee it’ll be earth-shattering posts every time, but I’ll try to say more than um…um…

Although that may very well be part of it.

Vivi crazy

My usual expression

Seriously, though, I know I’m not the only one out there who is pulled in a million different directions every day. The problem is that I love every one of those directions, be it hanging out with family, writing, revising, working. I just never seem to have the time to devote one hundred percent to each one. I mean, unless you’re a Twilight vampire (and if you are, bite me—literally), who does? That’s why I posted a picture of me pulling my hair out, because I seem to do that more often than not.

My sister-in-law recently told me something that stuck with me – give 100% of yourself to whatever you’ve got scheduled at any given time, and not worry about the other items on the list. For example, when working, don’t think about the revisions sitting on your desktop. When with your family (and this one has become much more important to me), don’t think about the work you have to do later. This has actually helped me become a little more focused, and I’ve been able to accomplish more. It didn’t hurt that my son gave me an acrostic poem for Mother’s Day and my computer/writing was listed at least three times (and more than any other theme). So yeah…Momma needs a new attitude.

As for my blog post – it’s on www.vivibarnes.com, and I’m giving away something related to my upcoming debut novel, OLIVIA TWISTED. So come on over and dive in! And leave a comment below if you have any tips to share on how you balance everything OR suggestions for what I can talk about on my new blog. Because anything is better than um…um…

Have a great week!

PADDLE! Row your way through the marshes

11 May

In my quest for adventure in 2012, I tried kayaking for the first time and absolutely loved it. It was in a very calm bay off the Gulf of Mexico at North Captiva Island, and the water was so calm and clear that you could see all way to the bottom. The water was also very shallow at that time of year; in some areas rowing was like slicing warm butter with a sharp knife, but at one point, we had to dig down and push through the marshy grasses to make our way through. Sometimes I wanted to paddle back to the open water, but I kept going and was rewarded with a view of the bay that took my breath away.

The process of writing is very much like rowing. Sometimes it’s clear sailing and easy-peasy, other times it feels like you’re pushing a kayak through three inches of water and marsh. It’s easy to give up when you get to the marshy part. Been there, done that. For me, it’s revisions. I’d rather just barf up a lovely first draft and move along to the next story, just like I did on papers in high school (where my first draft was my last draft), but writing novels doesn’t quite work like that.sports

With Olivia Twisted, I revised the opening paragraph alone three times and the entire story…well, who knows how many times. It went from 55K words to 88K, and I have no idea how many it’ll end up with when I’m done. And there were many times I wanted to just give up so I could go back to doing what I love most – drafting – but I paddled on. And I got to where I hated it and thought I sucked as a writer and so on and so forth (by the way, in my opinion, when you feel like your manuscript sucks and you suck as a writer, that’s when you know you’re close).

Obviously, I’m glad those phases didn’t last long enough to make me quit, but the point is to keep going. Paddle through the marshy blahs and get to where it’s smooth sailing again. Because the view on the other side is definitely worth it!

SPROUT: Grow Your Relationships

28 Apr

lady with laptop

I love this month’s power word (okay, so I will probably say this about every power word), because it speaks to what I love most: people.

The comfort level varies for every writer on how much they share about the writing process with others. And when you get an agent or a publisher, so many of the details are confidential that sometimes it seems better to keep everything under wraps just to be safe. But for the aspiring writer, it’s a wonderful thing to hear from other writers about the process. The more the better, as no one person’s tale is the same as another’s. I will always be grateful to those writers who opened up and shared their journey with me. It made me feel more relaxed in a world that in the beginning felt like a pair of new shoes—pretty, but a little uncomfortable.

When I started writing seriously a couple years ago, I involved everyone I knew in the process. From my kids to my coworkers to my fellow Chicks (of course) to Twitter friends, at one time or another, everyone got to hear me complain about celebrate the sometimes wacky, sometimes wonderful, always wild world of writing and querying. Through writer’s block, query rejections, revisions – we were all in it together.

What this ultimately did was create a strong support system that has gotten me through both difficult and exciting times. These wonderful partners and friends celebrate, laugh, and commiserate with me. I can’t imagine this journey without them and will always be grateful.

So, if you’re comfortable with it, share some of your journey—both highs and lows—with friends and acquaintances. Let those relationships sprout and everyone will benefit.

On a related note, to celebrate this month’s power word, I spent two hours in my flowerbed tonight, planting. After lying here with sore arms, legs and back, I’ve decided gardening is overrated. I’ll stick to sprouting relationships instead.

DIG! Digging into edits

16 Mar

I’m editing. Really. I almost want to end the post here because that’s pretty much my life right now. Knee-deep in the edit dirt, since I’m talking DIG here.

When I received the edit letter and marked-up manuscript of OLIVIA TWISTED back from my editor, Stacy Abrams, I kind of freaked out for a moment. A long moment. I think my first thought was “Does she not love me/the book anymore?” It’s silly, because of course she does, but there seemed to be so many areas of opportunity. And everything I thought could be swept under the table, she caught. There were also many places where she felt I could develop certain plot lines or characters more.

Thus began the digging. As I explored each character, I realized that I had missed many opportunities to develop motivation, personality, and relationships. Some things worked, some fell flat. So I started moving around, asking my characters a lot of questions about their motivations (yes, they talk back) and adding several scenes. And reading back through it, it seems to work so much better–like it pops! So yeah, Stacy is pretty genius in my book (along with genius Nicole, her intern).digging man

Of course, as I write this, I’m still editing and staring at my deadline like a deer in the headlights (I’m from Texas originally so I know this look). That’s probably why this post is short—my brain is a little fried.

Eventually, the edits will be finished and I’ll send it back with the hopes that Stacy will like the changes. And from what everyone says, the first edits are the toughest. After that it’s like cake. Well, anytime you reference something like cake, I’m happy!

Anyone else in edit world these days? How’s it going?

REVEAL: Prophecy Girl (Angel Academy) by Cecily White

11 Mar

Hey everyone! I have a special post today. My dear agency AND pub sister Cecily White has revealed the blurb and awesome new cover for her upcoming debut, Prophecy Girl (part of the Angel Academy series), which arrives on bookshelves April 2. Check it out below and enter a Rafflecopter giveaway to win one of 3 e-ARCS of Prophecy Girl!

Prophecy GirlNEW-1600px

Amelie Bennett. . . . Ending the world, one prophecy at a time.

I was born to slay Crossworld demons.

Big black flappy ones, little green squirmy ones. Unfortunately, the only thing getting slain these days is my social life. With my high school under attack, combat classes intensifying, and Academy instructors dropping right and left, I can barely get my homework done, let alone score a bondmate before prom.

Then he shows up.

Jackson Smith-Hailey. Unspeakably hot, hopelessly unattainable, and dangerous in all the right ways. Sure, he’s my trainer. And okay, maybe he hates me. Doesn’t mean I’ll ignore the wicked Guardian chemistry between us. It’s crazy! Every time I’m with him, my powers explode. Awesome, right?

Wrong.

Now my teachers think I’m the murderous Graymason destined to bring down our whole race of angelbloods. Everyone in New Orleans is hunting me. The people I trusted want me dead. Jack and I have five days to solve the murders, prevent a vampire uprising, and thwart the pesky prophecy foretelling his death by my hand. Shouldn’t be too difficult.

Getting it done without falling in love. . . that might take a miracle.

Check it out:
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/14741366-prophecy-girl?ac=1

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Prophecy-Angel-Academy-Cecily-White/dp/1620612941/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1362859744&sr=8-1&keywords=Cecily+White

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/prophecy-girl-cecily-white/1113981531?ean=9781620612941

The Book Depository: http://www.bookdepository.com/Prophecy-Girl-Cecily-White/9781620612941

EXCERPT:

Matt had snapped the leg off his chair and swung it at the air, Alec Charbonnet’s head seemed to be bent in prayer, and Lyle, in an unlikely show of heroism, held up his Theories textbook to shield a whimpering Channeler behind him. In the distance, I could hear Marcus shouting evacuation orders, but, for the most part, it was just screams. High-pitched, horrible screams.

“Lisa!” I yelled. “Get Katie and get out!”

“But—”

“I’m right behind you, I swear. Go!” I wrenched my arm out of Lisa’s grip, desperate to find some foothold in the madness.

So far, only lesser demons had come through—small creatures that scratched and bit with nasty precision but rarely killed. Under normal circumstances, they were about as threatening as a swarm of winged ferrets.

Except this was far from normal.

Through the haze, I watched Jack raise his sword in a defensive arc. His face held no fear as he parried the demon attack, deflecting blow after blow. Bright streaks of crimson appeared on his cheeks, his shirt shredded to bloodstained ribbons. He swung his blade with the force of a battle-axe, sheets of black ichor spreading down his hands. Yet as fiercely as he fought and as much damage as he inflicted, I knew it wouldn’t be enough. Until that gate was closed, the demons would keep coming.

And they’d get bigger.

We’d been warned to expect hand-to-hand combat challenges, the occasional loose fiend, trainers lurking behind corners to pounce on us for “training purposes.” But untamed demon hordes and blasts of hellfire?

No way.

Somebody had to do something.

I squinted against the heat and lifted up my hands. “Exitus,” I yelled weakly. The swirl of heat and fire tightened in my fingers for a second, then went slack.

“What are you doing?” Like a shot, Jack’s head snapped in my direction.

“I’m helping,” I shouted from my hiding spot behind the chair.

“You’re irritating them. Go away!”

“I’m irritating them?” I mumbled as he sliced through another demon wing.

Much as I ached to argue, I had to give him snaps for honesty. It was true, I sucked at the channeling thing. Once, I had tried linking power with Lyle during Fundamentals class last year. Total disaster. It had taken a solid month for his eyebrows to grow back.

Still, did Jack really expect me to sit and do nothing? He was getting slaughtered. Alone. Smalley and the rest of the faculty huddled near the exits. Even the trainers, who were allegedly hired for stuff like this, bustled safely toward the back.

I watched as another charcoal-skinned demon slid through the opening, its serrated teeth snapping at the air.

“Jack! Behind you!”

He turned in time to see the thing flying at his back. With inhuman speed, his sword came up in a glittering sweep to slice through its neck. Black blood spilled across his chest as the monster crashed to the floor in a stringy heap…just as two more like it hurtled through.

It was insane. Why was no one fighting?

Marcus and Daniel had funneled the last Channelers through the exits and were circling back to collect the Watchers and senior faculty. I recognized what they were doing. It was standard protocol for a rift-kill. First, they would clear the room and ward all the vulnerable points of exit. Only a small contingent would be left inside, one or two bonded pairs. When the demon flow had cleared, the Watcher would launch a charmed explosive device, etched with glyphs powerful enough to collapse the gate from the other side. We’d seen it a hundred times in training videos.

But this made no sense.

If I left the room now there would be no Channelers. No one to shield him when the gate collapsed.

Terrified, I stood and pushed through the demon horde to where Jack fought, his sword slicing the air like a whip. My chest was taut, and, with every step, heat seemed to billow up inside me.

“Give me a weapon,” I yelled.

“Bennett, I told you to get out of here. That’s an order!”

“I’m not leaving you. Give me a sword and let me fight, or give me your hand and help me channel.”

His eyes were dark with fury as he whirled. “It’s not your fight.”

“You’re going to die.”

“Bennett, for the last time,” he said, thrashing at the blackskinned horde. “Get! Out!”

With a final hacking swipe, he flipped his sword to the opposite hand and made a grab at my arm. I’m not sure what he intended—to push me back, or maybe march me to Smalley’s office for a quick disciplinary lecture. Whatever his intention, it vanished the instant his hand touched me.

It was as if I’d been electrified, like a toaster oven suddenly plugged into the wall. All the power from the rift hurtled toward us, raw and hot and terrifying. I lifted my free hand again, black flames lapping at my outstretched fingers.

“Exitus! Concedia! Incendia!”

Every command I could dredge up from last year’s Defensive Fundamentals class sprang to my lips. White and gold sparks flew out of my fingers and a hot wind blew, whipping the curtains into tight little circles. It felt like someone had injected liquid flames into my veins, as if the building and everyone in it were suddenly bleeding fire. Crossworld energy swelled inside me, blackening my heart and everything around it.

“Holy hell!”

Jack ripped his hand off my arm but it was too late. Energy hung between us, thick and ropey ribbons of light. I could feel my power reverberating off his. My eyes slammed shut as a whip of heat cracked across my face, the darkness intensifying. Every instinct told me to duck, to run, to hide. But I didn’t. If I let go of the channel, the gate would open again, and I couldn’t let that happen. I couldn’t let him die.

With an ungodly grunt, Jack launched himself at me, his weapon clattering to the floor beneath an acidic wave of black flame. The dull ache of impact ripped through my shoulder as we hit the ground and began to roll. Maybe it was instinct, maybe cowardice, I don’t know. But as soon as I felt him on top of me, I melted. My body sealed itself to his, every part of us fitting together like pieces of an ancient puzzle. Every hard plane of his chest, every inch of his warmth against me…even the smell of him, all sweat and soap and salty blood.

He felt like home.

Crossworld energy stretched across my soul as he tucked me beneath him. Somewhere in my ribcage I could feel my spirit suffocating, helpless and weak. I wanted to will the flames into submission but my control was gone.

I was drowning.

About Cecily:Cecily

Cecily Cornelius-White, Psy.D. makes a habit of avoiding boredom whenever possible. She has enjoyed careers as a hand model, GAP salesgirl, movie projectionist, psychotherapist, yoga instructor, university professor, artist, dance choreographer, eating disorders specialist, psych diagnostician, book reviewer and copy editor. None of which are as much fun as writing novels.

She currently lives in Springfield, MO with two FABULOUS kids, and a schizophrenic yet well-mannered cat. She can swear in Klingon, take down an alien aggressor using only her mind (or a pair of chopsticks), and kill giant spiders without getting schmutz on her shirt.

When not singing to herself, she spends time creating new worlds and thinking up ways to make this one better…

Website: http://cecilywhite.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CecilyWhite

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/cecily.white.5

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6151198.Cecily_White

Cover reveal: OLIVIA TWISTED

1 Mar

I am so excited to share the cover and official blurb for my book, OLIVIA TWISTED, which debuts November 5! Thank you to the entire team at Entangled for your support, and especially to Kelley York for the spectacular cover.

OliviaTwistedCover

Olivia

He tilts my chin up so my eyes meet his, his thumb brushing lightly across my lips. I close my eyes. I know Z is trouble. I know that being with him is going to get me into trouble. I don’t care.

At least at this moment, I don’t care.

Tossed from foster home to foster home, Olivia’s seen a lot in her sixteen years. She’s hardened, sure, though mostly just wants to fly under the radar until graduation. But her natural ability with computers catches the eye of Z, a mysterious guy at her new school. Soon, Z has brought Liv into his team of hacker elite—break into a few bank accounts, and voila, he drives a motorcycle. Follow his lead, and Olivia might even be able to escape from her oppressive foster parents. As Olivia and Z grow closer, though, so does the watchful eye of Bill Sykes, Z’s boss. And he’s got bigger plans for Liv…

Z

I can picture Liv’s face: wide-eyed, trusting. Her smooth lips that taste like strawberry Fanta.

It was just a kiss. That’s all. She’s just like any other girl.

Except that she’s not.

Thanks to Z, Olivia’s about to get twisted.

Check it out:
Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17343436-olivia-twisted
Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1622660285

“Like” my Facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/vivibarnes.author

 

Enter to win a $10 iTunes gift card: 

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TANGO! Dance around the bullies and be your creative self!

22 Feb

This is an odd way to relate to this month’s power word, TANGO, but it’s something I feel pretty strongly about.

Recently, someone close to me experienced bullying at his middle school. Remember middle school? I do. I hated it. Well, that’s probably being a little harsh, since there were many things I enjoyed. But most of my friends weren’t in my “block,” and I had scoliosis, which means I had to wear a brace for a year and a half of the junior high hell (the brace wasn’t visible, but I felt like it was).

To show him he wasn’t alone, I asked the Twitterverse to share stories of bullying experiences in middle school. And WOW was I surprised when my Twitter feed blew up and I received over a hundred responses to my request. From editors to authors to even a rocket scientist, many had felt the sting of being the “odd one out.” And a common theme—many times the bully was getting bullied herself.

Then a friend sent me an email about how her previously trusted group of peers had been talking about her behind her back and treating her poorly (since she’s one of the sweetest people I know and considering her situation, I’m thinking it could be a jealousy thing). She decided to break with the group, but it wasn’t easy. They had been together for years. It made her question her own self worth, and that, to me, is unacceptable.two young girls laughing behind another girls back

When bullying rears its ugly head beyond the primary school years, how do you handle it?Maybe it happens when an artist perceives himself as blocked, as if blocking others leads to revelation or success for himself. As in middle school, sometimes it’s the bully who is getting bullied. As adults, though, it surprises me still that this happens. Why hinder when we should be supporting each other? I can’t think of anything more detrimental to the creative self than being dragged down by naysayers.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve learned to keep circles of trust around myself. No one gets into the circle unless invited—no one tangoes with me (no one puts Baby in a corner?) unless I really, REALLY trust them.  They’re the only ones who can actually affect my perception of myself. I don’t have energy for the rest.

So tango around those who aim to hurt you. Create your circles and block the bullies. The dance will be much more enjoyable for it!

ZOOM! (even if we drive a minivan)

24 Jan

My first thought when we voted on ZOOM for our power word was that I drive a minivan and zoom doesn’t exactly describe it. Though my husband would disagree by the way I drive. Whatever.

Before I started writing this post, I thought I’d use ZOOM in the definition of focus, especially since I’m knee-deep in the editing process right now.

Vivi ziplineThen I opened my phone and saw the picture of my recent zipline experience and decided to use ZOOM the way I feel at the moment—moving full speed ahead! And you know, sometimes when you ZOOM through life the sides of the road may blur, which sounds like a bad thing. However, I feel that when you’re focused and moving ahead, if you stop to notice the things on the left and right of you, those things start to pull you from your goals. For me, social media is a great example of something I need to let blur when I’m ZOOMing. I get distracted very easily by Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. Excuse me while I check my email. But if I’m flying through something at any given moment (and I have to really be engaged in what I’m working on), I need the sides of the road to blur so I can make headway. And it feels good. blurry road

This past year, I decided not to let anything stop me from what people have called my bucket list—all those things I’ve always wanted to do but something got in the way (um, okay, usually I was standing in my own way).  Were there things on the “side of the road” that could’ve stopped me? Of course! (I got a lot of the “Your parachute might not open!” To which my response was, “We all gotta go sometime!”) It was such an incredibly rewarding year that I’ve dared myself to keep going. I will take on each challenge not just by climbing but leaping. I won’t let anything get in my way, especially not my own inhibitions. I will seek out new experiences and stay positive through all the bumps and curves.

I will allow the road to blur when necessary.

I will ZOOM!

Will you?

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