Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Music to Write By

Every once in awhile, someone will ask me what my playlist was while I was writing a certain book. Or, they will show me a song on YouTube and say that it fits my book perfectly.  I love that people can think of songs that make them feel a certain way, and tie that into my book.

But honestly, I don't have a playlist for any of my books, because I don't listen to music while I write. Believe me, I've tried, because I love music, but if the music has lyrics, I'll usually end up incorporating them into my manuscript! So for me, it's either silence or classical.

However, that's not to say that I'm not inspired by music.  One of the main influences for TOUCHED is, and I'm sure you're heard it before if you've been to a wedding in the past few years, The Luckiest by Ben Folds, because it explores the topic of fate:

And I know that I heard this song about 4 gazillion times, and so a lot of the sentiment behind it, the idea of going through any torture just to see the one you love, got engrained in FAIRY TALE:

Also, whenever I don't feel like writing because I feel like I'm not good enough, I use this song as a reminder that I'm not alone in this:

So as you can see, it's usually me hearing a song over and over again that the idea behind it gets in my head and ends up inspiring some of my writing. Maybe one of these days I will be able to write to music with lyrics, but until then . . .

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Book You Want to Read

Recently, I've spent WAY too much time analyzing trends, what's been selling, what hasn't been, and trying to apply that to my own books.

That's really freaking stupid.

Okay, it's important to be knowledgeable about the business, sure. But I think I had more success in letting the best-sellers write what they wanted, and just sticking to writing what I wanted.  It was way more fun, too.

That was my one rule when I first started: I would write the kind of book that Teen Me wanted to read. I'm lucky in the fact that Teen Me and Me are actually quite similar, as I still don't consider myself a full-fledged master of adulthood. The book Teen Me wanted to read, coincidentally, is nowhere near what is popular these days, for these reasons:

  1. It was somewhat short. I remember finishing up a LONG day of homework, and the first thing I wanted to do was sit down with a book. But I also loved the feeling of satisfaction I got from finishing a book, especially when I could do it in one sitting. I didn't want overly complicated. I didn't want massive subplots. I wanted a nice little story, and  . . .
  2. It had a beginning, middle, and definite end.  No cliffhanger endings. No sequels. When it ended, I got to work in my head where it went. I didn't have to wait and agonize for the next part.  And also . . .
  3. That ending . . . it was happy. What can I say...  when I was a teen and my life was full of so much trauma, I liked happy. And I liked happy endings. Mostly because
  4. I had a very goofy side, and liked to laugh.  My books had to have a little dose of goofy in it. I'm a goofy person. I don't do angst really well. Writing serious scenes is hard for me because I am so tempted to throw in a stupid joke, to lighten the mood. 
  5. It wasn't about vampires, or witches, or anything else that's been "done" before.

If you'll notice, loooong, angst-ridden series seem to be in these days. That's what's popular. Or at least, that's what the gatekeepers, the ones who talk to teens and say, "This is what you'd like," would have us think.

But I don't think all teens like that.  I know that Teen Me would have one word for what's popular these days:  Ew.

So I am going to keep focusing on writing the book that I want to read. If it's not popular, that's okay. At least I know that Teen Me would read it, and she would be proud.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Objects in the Mirror . . .

About a decade or so ago, I had a bunch of stressful things happening in my life.  So I a) never ate and b) exercised all the time, which was a really bad combination, probably just as bad as eating too much and never exercising. Anyway, as a result, I was this little twiggy, unhealthy, size-0 thing.

But I can still remember, very clearly, sitting in the passenger seat of my husband's car as we travelled, looking at the reflection on the side window. Of the flesh of my thighs, spreading out across the seat.

And I thought, "Ew. I'm fat."

But I was a size zero.

Now as a healthy and normal size 8, I'll look at pictures of myself back then and think how positively skeletal I was. How sick I was.

This is something I remind myself of when I'm writing. When I read my work back to myself and think, "Wow, this stinks."

We are too close to ourselves, and to anything we create. We can not see it accurately. At least, not without stepping away from it for a few weeks or months.

I know some writers operate without critique partners. I am really not sure how they do it, and I'd love to know.  I will occassionally think something I write is awesome and learn from my trusted friends that it is not. More often, I will think something I wrote is terrible, and learn that it actually isn't so bad. But I really have no idea, most of the time, where my stuff rates on the Suck-o-meter. Even after five books. No idea. I doubt I ever will.

I don't think it helps that writing is so subjective, and that one person's trash is another person's favorite book of all time. Often I'll send a book in after edits, thinking it needs another couple of drafts, only to be horrified that it was accepted and moved on to copyedits. I want to scream, "No, not yet!" hold it to myself as tight as I can, do a takeback. But it's too late. I try to comfort myself, "My editor is a pro, she knows when a book is ready."  But most often I wallow in the thought of all the changes I could've made, that would have made it so much better.

It's so easy to see the flaws in yourself. So easy.

It's impossible to write a book without flaws, at least in someone's eyes.

A decade or so ago, I always had my husband, pulling me from the brink, telling me that I was perfect, just the way I was. Not that I was too thin, or too fat. In his eyes, I was more than my weight. I was perfect.

And now I have critique partners that do the same thing for me. So someone says my books are too short. So someone says my characters are whiners. So someone says that scene was too unbelievable. They tell me my books are more than that one character, or that one scene. And while my books may not be perfect to everyone, they may just be perfect for someone.

And that's enough for me. It should be enough for anyone. I hope it's enough for you.

And I hope you find yourself a wonderful critique partner. They are worth SO much.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Stuff. Yeah, I know that makes this entry sound so compelling, you have to read it.

Some have looked at my rather blank Events page and asked me when my next signing is, and well . . . not for a little while, I guess. I'm speaking to librarians early next month, but after that . . . big black hole of signings!  I had a really nice one with Josh Berk and Elisa Ludwig last weekend, and it was lots of fun. The Exton BAM is great.  Here's a pic (big thanks to Michelle for her pic-taking skills):


I may have more eventually, and if I do, I'll post my schedule here.

I also wanted to make a mention to certain fans of mine.  Notably, foreign fans. I am getting the NICEST emails from readers outside the US who are interested in seeing my books in their country. Actually, a lot of them. A lot lot lot of them, so many that I'm having a bit of a lag responding to them all. If you are one of those people, I want to thank you so much for your interest, as it means so much to me that my book has captured your attention.  For awhile, I tried to keep up with these requests. Unfortunately, now, my pocket book is so small (I am a writer, after all), and I'm unable to send mail overseas. I really, really, apologize for this, as I welcome all your emails and am so flattered by your interest.  But I also have a family to feed. :) But again, thank you! Right now, you can find some of my books in the US, Canada, Hungary, Germany, and Italy... but I hope that one day my books will be available in your corner of the world, too.

I hope you all are having a lovely September.

XO, Cyn

Monday, August 27, 2012

Bow Down Before Me, Fools!

It has come to my attention that some of the world thinks that I am an egotistical jerk because of my response to the person who contacted me regarding the titling of Dead River.

Why, yes, I am. I am SOOOOOO important, being published by a Big-6 publisher, and you all, if you are not, are nothing.

I've found there is no way for me to say who my publisher is without looking like a big, conceited blow-hard, which is why I deleted part of the post. (Thank goodness for screen shots!) Actually, here's the thing: Being published by a major publisher does not make an author feel better than anyone else-- in fact, usually, it scares the crap out of them.

I know, boo-hoo-hoo, you got paid to write and aw it's so awful. Go shut up now, Cyn. I'll admit, that part is awesome! But:

Firstly, when it happens, you think that you're a fluke. You think that just about anyone in the world, even a few monkeys working in a room round the clock for a year, can ALSO be published by a major publisher, if only the stars aligned correctly.

Secondly, because of the first point, you live in fear that you will never have another book published. You likely got an okay advance, and so your life is devoted to making sure that advance earns out to please the "Big Publisher Gods" that you "work" for.  You become a slave to the numbers, because you want to make this your career and you want your bosses to be happy with you and not think you're a big turd. 

Thirdly, because you are not Suzanne Collins, you did not get as much promotion as you would have expected from a large publisher. In fact, you probably got next to nothing. And so while you are sitting at a signing twiddling your thumbs and watching people snatch your bookmarks away and use them as tissues, you think of all the money that YOU YOURSELF put into those bookmarks, and wonder if you should have spent ALL your advance money on promoting yourself, instead of half of it. You set up a blog and a website and a facebook and twitter account even though you don't like all that crap and are a very private person, just because you know that's what they expect of you. You wrack your head trying to think of things to tell people that are interesting, so they don't forget about you and your books, and meanwhile because you are a social nitwit you make it seem like you are a conceited jerk who hates reviewers and writers and basically anyone who might read your book.

Fourthly, also because you are not Suzanne Collins, when your editor tells you to change this, you change it.  When they tell you to go to this place, you go there. When they tell you to spin around in circles while patting your head and rubbing your belly, you do that, too. Because they know what they're doing... they work for a well-known publisher, after all. And I could be a monkey. I don't pretend for one moment that I have any sparkling knowledge or talent that nobody else has. This isn't about "art", and about how sparkly and wondrous and unique your prose is, and how like murdering baby chipmunks it would be to alter it. It's about business. It's about you-and-your-work-are-not-divine. It's about what will sell. And the team at a publisher works hard to figure that out. So I couldn't change the title of Dead River if I wanted to. It's in my publisher's hands. If they thought it would sell better if it were called Poop River, I'd go with it. Reluctantly.

Those are what I can think of off the top of my head. I know I am hugely fortunate to have been published by a major publisher, and NOT the other way around-- it's a dream I've had since I was a kid. Despite the above, it's still wonderful. And it's one I know that anyone can experience, should they choose, with the right amount of luck and patience.  And maybe a monkey.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Proper Care and Feeding of Trolls...

I don't have a green thumb at all. Every plant kept in my presence will usually wilt to a stalk. It's not that I possess a Medusa-like ability to just glance at something and make it lifeless... it's just that I'm scattered and usually forget. I ignore.

However, I've learned that while this is a terrible curse with plants and pets, it's actually a gift when it comes to trolls.  Trolls do not like being ignored. When you're not paying attention to them, they die quickly.

The problem is, it's easy to ignore a plant. It's not so easy to ignore something that's going "Look at me! Look at me!  Wanna fight?"

But that's the best thing to do. Because some people just live to get a rise out of people. That's all the exist for. It's a pretty pathetic existence, but perhaps they're used to being ignored in their own lives. This is their attention-grab.

Yesterday I made the mistake of responding to a troll. You see, I get a few emails a day from people I don't know, and I try to respond to all of them. I feel a little guilty when I don't, and I usually enjoy corresponding with readers. If you read yesterday's blog post, you'll see the email. It was slightly rude, insinuating I was unprofessional, but I've been called a lot worse in my life, and his concern was one I'd once had. So I felt I could respond and explain what I'd learned from my experience. I know had I been in that situation, I'd have appreciated the knowledge.

Well, the situation escalated. After I received an argumentative response to my email, I emailed and stated that I would not be responding to further comments.  It was obvious at that point that he was just looking for a fight. As I was moving to block his email, I received a barrage of emails, calling me a rash of insulting names which I can't even repeat here since I only skimmed and then deleted.

That was not my first run-in with a troll, but I felt the same as I had the first time, like that was 20 minutes of my life I'll never get back. A total waste of time. You can't fix stupid, and you can't reason with someone who is looking for a fight simply because they like fighting. The best thing you can do is walk away.  If I'd been smarter, I wouldn't have answered at all and would have referred this person over to my publisher, who would have ignored him. That's what, in hindsight, I should have done.

The proper care and feeding of trolls is simple. Don't. Because if they capture your attention, they'll capture you. They'll win.  So don't let them win. Ignore them, and let them die.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Two Books, One Title...

I received this letter this morning:

RE: The Novel Title "Dead River"

Are you aware that the title of your new novel is the same as another novel published February 2010?

Professional courtesy would call for you to change the title of your novel to avoid confusion even though the genres are different.

Most all professional writers do due diligence and check titles of published novels so these conflicts do not occur.

(Name Redacted)

My response was this:

Dear (Name Redacted):
I am aware of this. However, I believe "most all professional writers" are aware that book titles can not be copyrighted. And because there are millions of books on Amazon, with thousands being added every day, it is a very common occurance for books to have the same title. I am actually surprised there are not more books entitled "Dead River", considering there a quite a few Dead Rivers in the United States, and it does make for a very creepy title.

 The book you are referencing came out awhile ago, and it's not the same genre, so there can be little confusion. I would like to point out to you my novel SLEEPLESS, which came out in 2010. If you check it on Amazon, you will see MANY books with that title. Ironically, two of them are the same genre as mine. Yet, I have never once had my titles confused with theirs. Another book of mine, TOUCHED, which came out this month, shares its title with another book in the same genre, coming out later this year. I consider those to be closer matches than what you have provided me, and yet, as I have learned, there is little reason to be concerned.

 I am fortunate to be working with a major publisher who regularly consults the market and makes determinations for me as to what my titles should be. If they have any concerns over conflict, believe me, they would address them.

 Thank you for your concern.

 Cyn Balog

FAIRY TALE (Delacorte, out now!)
SLEEPLESS (Delacorte, out now!)
STARSTRUCK (Delacorte, out now!)
TOUCHED (Delacorte, out now!)
DEAD RIVER (Delacorte, April 9, 2013)

What are your thoughts about two books having the same title?

UPDATE: The person who contacted me earlier responded. The response is so laughable that I should probably not feed the troll, but sometimes I can't help myself.

Of course titles can not be copyrighted, you missed the point. This is not a legal issue but a professional one.
I already stated below, the genres are not the same, however, there still could be confusion having the same title ...
Your publisher may want to do a better job next time.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Glamorous Release Day

TOUCHED releases today.


I have read so many release day stories, which included book signings, travelling to bookstores, parties with cake and friends and champagne and all those good things.

But me? Today, I'm going to work. I'll eat lunch at my desk. I'll come home and take my daughter for her yearly physical. I will go to bed. I will not have received any congratulations from anyone in my "real" life about the release of my book. All the people that I deal with on a daily basis do not know it's release date for me. They know I'm an author, but they don't read, so they don't really care.

So that's release day. Pretty much just like any other day in my life.

But here's why I'm grateful. I have some really great online critique partners and friends that have helped me with TOUCHED, and I know that the book never would have made it into print without their help. Heather, Teri, Maggie, Mandy, Karen, and Brooke, I'm looking at you! Also, I owe the team at Delacorte and my agent, Jim, a huge debt of gratitude for putting up with my craziness. And I can not forget the bloggers who have taken the time to review TOUCHED and my other books on their blogs. And lastly, but most importantly, to all the readers... thank you. My day may be very ordinary, but I'm still releasing A BOOK, my 4th one, and to me, that's extraordinary, and all because of you.

ETA: I've learned that Barnes & Noble IS carrying TOUCHED!! This has made me so happy. Thank you to everyone for the congratulations, for helping me to spread the word, and most of all, for reading my work. It means so much to me. 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

YA Fest ReCap!

Well, the first YA Fest is history, and I think it was a huge success. It was last year, while I was planning to attend the Rochester Teen Book Festival, that I told Jen Murgia that I was excited about the event, but lamented that there weren't any YA events in the Lehigh Valley. "Wouldn't it be cool," I said, "If we could have one RIGHT HERE?"

Walking in to the festival yesterday morning, it was like Jen and everyone involved, had plucked the dream right out of my head and made it a reality.  I got a little teary-eyed, seeing everything they had done.  First-time events are rarely perfect, and of course there were minor bumps, but all-in-all, the event was as perfect as I could have ever imagined.  Just a whole slew of people (and yes, it was packed!) who enjoyed YA and books as much as I do.

Me and Jen (and all our neat swag!)

Josh Berk and Jeff Hirsch signing books and chatting with fans!

MasterBerk Theater Live was a hit. Even Magic Sea Otter would agree. We also learned that Jeff Hirsch and Margie Gelbwasser are shameless liars and that Jon Skovron will stop at nothing in the name of research. And, we now hold the world record for the largest number of YA authors reading from a YA book at once, or something like that. Yay, us! Here's the video:

Jen got her very own Angel Star!

It was standing-room only at some of the author panels. Here Anne Greenwood Brown, Charles Benoit, Barbara Dee, and Michelle Zink talk about their books.

 Shannon Delaney talks to fans.

Michael Northrop signs books.

I just want to thank everyone involved, especially the Stephanie Supinski, the Volunteens, and everyone at the Easton Library. You truly made it a special day for all of us!  I hope we can do it again next year!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

YA Fest This Saturday, 8/4, in Easton PA

I just realized that I've never posted about this little event I've been helping out with!  It's called YA Fest, and it will be at the Palmer branch of the Easton Library on August 4-- that's this Saturday! 35 of the best YA and MG authors will be there.

Check out their website here.

Also, TOUCHED officially releases on August 14, but if you simply can't wait, you can order a copy from Harleysville Books here. They have VERY LIMITED copies of TOUCHED available now and at YA Fest, 10 days before you can buy them! Exciting?  Sort of.

I am still in a weird state of disbelief that my FOURTH book is releasing in only TWO WEEKS.

ETA:  I forgot to mention the MOST EXCITING PART of this event.  It's not that we were featured in last Saturday's Morning Call (even though that was cool!), but that one of the highlights of the event is going to be the first-ever MasterBerk Theatre Live!  Do you realize what this means? If you have no idea what MasterBerk Theatre is, here is a little something to dazzle you:

You don't want to miss more of that, do you?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Dead River

Dead River, my 2013 book, is up on Amazon!  It is releasing on April 9.

I get creeped out just looking at the cover and I'm a little amazed that I wrote something that would warrant a cover that makes me want to run and hide. Here's a little bit about it:

My friends and I are spending prom weekend at a remote wooded cabin on the Dead. The Dead River.

I thought it was going to be just us.

I was wrong.

Nothing is what it seems in this creepy paranormal thriller by Cyn Balog.
I just turned in the First Pass Pages on it so I am sighing with relief I don't have to look at it again. But that cover! That cover I HAVE to look at!  Eeek!  *hides under her bed*

Monday, May 21, 2012


Today, at the end of the Rochester Teen Book Festival and a two-month break from the insanity that is the internet, I have several realizations:
  1. The YA book-loving community is amazing.
  2. I love writing. I can't stop doing it. I will always doodle and come up with wild story ideas, because that is in my blood. Who I share those stories with is still undetermined.
  3. If you don't like me, my writing, or something I said, that's up to you. But that doesn't mean I should change. It means YOU should realize people have different opinions than your own, and go find something you DO like. And thank goodness we all like different things. Because if we were all the same, how boring would that be?
  4. Publishing and writing are two different things, and I can do one, or both. Or neither. And it's my choice.
  5. Any way you slice it, I am PROUD of what I have accomplished so far. There are many people who try, and few who succeed at what I've done. There will always be those who do it better. But I did it. And even if I never do it again, that's enough. I am satisfied.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Balog Bloggedy Blog Blah Blah Blah

I started blogging in 2005. If you'd like to read my old posts and find out about my path to publication, check out my old blog, over here.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Book Review Blogs

There are so many book bloggers I love, I can't possibly name them all. Anyway, when I was at a speaking engagement recently to college students, book review blogs came up, and a large number of people in the room did not seem to know they existed.  They asked for examples, and while I named only a couple in passing, in case any of the people that were in that room are reading, I thought I'd list a few more here:

Narratively Speaking
The Story Siren
Book Chic
Hippies, Beautys, and Books
Mundie Moms
The Midnight Garden
Books with Bite
WhatchYA Reading?
La Femme Readers
Windowpane Memoirs
Steph Su Reads
Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf

Oh, gosh, I could go on forever! Like I said, there are so many blogs out there, one simply can not read them all. These are not all the blogs I read, but they're the ones that come to mind right now. And while not all of them may have reviewed my books favorably, they are known for giving very fair, thoughtful, professional reviews. I can usually nod my head and "get" where they're coming from.

YA book bloggers are some of the most passionate people around, and I they are one of the reasons why YA books are so popular right now. So they are vital to this industry. And people who love books are the best people in the world, hands down.

(On a side note, I love books like crazy, but I can not imagine how much work must go into maintaining a successful book review site. My little blog here makes me want to pull my hair out. But some of the bloggers above have been running their sites for years, and have managed to make multiple posts every week. I don't know how they do it.  I think some people might think that if you like books, it's simple to have a book blog... but that's wrong. It takes serious work! Keeping up with all the new releases, industry info, getting the books in, reading the books, keeping the lists of books organized, writing thoughtful reviews... all an exhausting labor of love, since most bloggers only get paid in books and comments.  I think I have the easy job, as an author.)

So who are your favorite book bloggers?  Give them a hug today!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The One Moment that Changed Everything

Do you have one?

When you think about it, you must have at least a few of them.... apart from the obvious (getting accepted to the college of your dreams, getting a new job, getting married, having a baby)... some moments, you can just look back on and think, "That moment changed absolutely EVERYTHING in my life." 

But it may be something simple. Like the alarm not going off.  Or having a knot in your shoelace. Those things alone may not mean much, but  even the smallest things can have the most enormous consequences.  What is a few minutes to a teen with a tyrannical first period teacher?  Or...to a person who worked at the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001? 

It is true for Nick Cross in TOUCHED. One moment in his life, one seemingly inconsequential decision, and everything begins to unravel.

And even worse, he knows exactly what would have happened had he made a different decision.

Because he can see the future . . .  sometimes. Not just one version of it, either... he can see glimpses of all of the versons, melded together, an incomprehensible mystery. And yet sometimes, too late, the pieces begin to make sense.

This is a little bit of Nick's story, TOUCHED, releasing this summer. I hope you enjoy it.

I clenched my teeth. "Green elephant. Green elephant. Green elephant."

I figured if anything could send her away, me muttering nonsensical phrases would be it. The phrase "green elephant" didn't mean anything to her, but I'd invented it when I was 9 or 10, and it meant everything to me.

"Do you want me to get you some water or something?"

Why did she have to be so damn nice? I pulled my head up and stared into her eyes, blue and endless, and

Blood on the staircase

I knew right then I was going to be sick. "Look." I tried to keep my voice even, but it came out as more of a growl. "I don't want anything from you, so just get the hell away from me."

I was surprised by two things. First, at how I could bring myself to sound like a total jerkwad, which is what I probably was. And second, at how she just nodded, as if it all made sense. She hurried up the ramp and jogged off, fastening the headphones over her ears as if we'd been chatting about the weather.

I sat alone for a moment, eyes closed, green-elephanting until the pain subsided and my mind slowed to a peaceful lull. A thousand new memories of the future bubbled under the surface of my eyes. On the bad side, there was something about blood on the staircase, and I had this strange ache in my chest. On the good side, there was kissing that girl. The rest I'd have to sort out later. I felt like I'd gone ten rounds of a heavyweight title match. I couldn't tell if it was because of the cycling or because the new memories would prove too horrifying to bear. I could change them. I could change the bad things, sometimes, by going off script.

You will climb up to the boardwalk and smile at Jocelyn. She will eye you up and down, and a couple of children and a man with a boogie board will step aside to let you pass.

Crazy Cross. That was what they called me at school, and as I felt the eyes of all the beachgoers on me, I knew it wouldn't be too long until they thought the same. As I climbed the ramp, quickly, trying my best to ignore the stares, that same sinking feeling resurfaced. For three months, I'd shed it, but now, it wrapped around me, heavy, like a winter coat.

You will bury your feet in the sand and hurry down the beach.

I groaned and stepped off the boardwalk, sinking ankle-deep into the hot sand.

You will hear the radio crackle with "Ambulance, Seventh Avenue." You will see the crowd gathered at the waterline. Chaos. Shouts. Pedro will narrow his eyes at you when you break through, and scream, "Where the hell were you?"

They will tell you there's no hope of saving the girl in the pink bikini. And you will know it is because of you. 

I have three moments in my life (other than the obvious) that changed my life completely. In my next blog entry (whenever that might be!), I'll tell you them!  And if you have any, I would love to hear them.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Bad Blogger! And a Tip for Writers, #1

Wow, it's been a long time since I posted. I guess because not much is going on. Well, to be more accurate, not much has been going on that I think you'd all be interested in.  Big difference.

I've been doing some small things, preparing for a visit with students at a local University, judging YA entries in a contest, and thinking about writing my next book. As I've been looking at entries from that contest, though, I noticed something coming up quite a lot.  And here it is:

Really, really dull dialogue.

I can't say I'm not guilty of this, too. I used to consider dialogue to be the EASY part of writing. But while reading other people's work, I realized there are a lot of dangers in assuming that you can just gloss over your dialogue.  Especially when you read stuff like this:

"How was school today, dear?"


"Learn anything new?"

"Not really."

This is so boring and cliche and it kills. And yet this is a conversation that happens in probably every household. But that's the problem. There's nothing memorable about it.

In pretty much every entry I saw, there was a bit of cliche in the dialogue. For example, if I read one sentence, I could close my eyes and picture EXACTLY the next line, the other character's reaction.

But you WANT it to sound natural, don't you? They tell you to just write the thing that sounds most natural.

Still, I don't think it's a good idea. Because much like reading a book when you know what is going to happen sucks a lot of enjoyment out of it, reading dialogue when you know a character's response to it isn't very fun, either.

This is what I do: if a piece of dialogue, a response to my dialogue, comes too easily to me, I figure it's likely a cliche.  The next response, the idea that comes to mind 2 seconds after the most natural response, is the one that I try to use.  So the answer to "How was school today?" is not "Fine," it's "I didn't go to school. I robbed a bank, instead." 

Sometimes it might not fit, but sometimes it might reveal something about the character saying it that even YOU didn't know. It's the age-old question. How to keep dialogue both natural and interesting?

Saturday, February 11, 2012


I know it's hard looking through the scores of ebooks on Amazon, trying to find one that's actually worth buying.  So here's a recommendation:


Ivy has always been afraid of mirrors, but she never knew why. Then one of them sucks her into the fairy tale Beauty and the Beast.

All she wants is to find her way home. But when she tries to escape, Ivy breaks the wrong spell. Now Beast is not so gentle-on-the-inside, Beauty is falling for the wrong prince, and Ivy is no closer to figuring out how to get through the enchanted forest that traps her.

With magic mirrors, dancing fairies, a sadistic pixie, and other random fairy tale twists, Ivy doesn’t know what’s safe or who to trust. Can she escape the fairy tale trap?

This is a great YA, with a fun heroine and a lot of unexpected twists. You'll love it! You can purchase it online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

About Emily:
Emily is a writer from Tallahassee who chases two crazy kids around the house all day before collapsing in front of her computer.

She writes everything from fairy tales to zombies. Emily writes what's exciting to her and just hopes someone else out there likes it.

Other little tid-bits: She's a dog person (Emily has a German Shepherd named Guybrush), she likes to run (she ran her first half marathon while 4 months pregnant) and majored in Psychology (which explains why she's a little nuts) with a minor in English (which explains the whole writing thing). Visit her online at http://emilycasey.com/.

For more from Emily on her blog tour, don't forget to visit her next stop tomorrow!  http://4theluvofwriting.blogspot.com/

(And if you're STILL looking for something to read after checking out THE FAIRY TALE TRAP, my own ebook, GETTING CAUGHT, is now only 99 cents at Amazon!)

Hope you're having a great weekend!  Stay tuned for more information about an exciting YA event that's coming to Eastern PA this summer!

Monday, January 30, 2012


I want to thank everyone for entering the TOUCHED contest! Because I had so many entries, I decided to choose two winners, who are:

Lena & Giselle!
They have already been notified via email. Thanks again for all your entries and enthusiasm over TOUCHED. I really wish I could give every one of you a copy of it.

Happy Monday!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Welcome to my New Website!

Well, the other one wasn't working for me... so on the advice of some other writer-friends, I put this site together. Please note, it is a work in progress, but if you have any feedback or ideas for what I can add to it, I'd love to hear! I hope it's more functional than the last one... and by functional I mean, something that a technical doofus like me can manage. 

I'll be funneling followers of my livejournal blog over here, but will continue to post on both for the time being.

Have a happy Monday!  And stay tuned-- I'm going to announce the winner of the TOUCHED contest this week!  Thank you so much for all the entries. 

XO, Cyn