Vlog: 5 Things Writers Need

I read this guest post back in August about ten things you don't need to be a writer, and it inspired me to talk about the opposite. What DO writers need? I've got five things.

What would you add to the list? 

Twitter-sized bites: 
.@Ava_Jae vlogs about five things you need to be a writer. What do you think? (Click to tweet)  
Persistence, patience & support are 3/5 things @Ava_Jae says you need to be a writer. What do you think? #vlog (Click to tweet)

Book Review: OTHERBOUND by Corinne Duyvis

Photo credit: Goodreads
I always love when I read a book from a nice person on Twitter and it turns out that along with being really super nice, they’re actually totally awesome at the whole book-writing thing, too.

Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis is one of those examples.

Before I go into why, however, here’s the Goodreads summary:
“Amara is never alone. Not when she's protecting the cursed princess she unwillingly serves. Not when they're fleeing across dunes and islands and seas to stay alive. Not when she's punished, ordered around, or neglected. 
She can't be alone, because a boy from another world experiences all that alongside her, looking through her eyes. 
Nolan longs for a life uninterrupted. Every time he blinks, he's yanked from his Arizona town into Amara's mind, a world away, which makes even simple things like hobbies and homework impossible. He's spent years as a powerless observer of Amara's life. Amara has no idea . . . until he learns to control her, and they communicate for the first time. Amara is terrified. Then, she's furious. 
All Amara and Nolan want is to be free of each other. But Nolan's breakthrough has dangerous consequences. Now, they'll have to work together to survive--and discover the truth about their connection.”
So I began reading Otherbound thinking it would be a cool fantasy story with a diverse cast and an interesting premise. I was right, but wow, I didn’t realize how impressive this book would be.

The world building and magic system alone makes the unique world of Otherbound so very interesting—I’ve never seen a magic system quite like what Duyvis put together in Nolan and Amara’s intertwined worlds, and it was totally refreshing to see a fantasy world where there are consequences to magic use (can you say FINALLY?). Combined with the intricate details of the cultures (yes! more than one! thank you again!) and norms of Amara’s world and the totally fascinating epilepsy-not-really-epilepsy-like attacks Nolan gets in his reality when slipping into Amara’s world, and it all makes for one really interesting story.

I will say that there were some aspects of Amara’s world that confused me and/or I had trouble grasping, but all in all, the world building was really well done and I totally admire the way Duyvis wrote Nolan and Amara’s worlds.

Oh, and have I mentioned the diverse characters? This made me so happy. Nolan is a latino amputee with “epilepsy” (and even though we know it’s not epilepsy, the way Amara’s world affects him in a way that totally breaks your heart) and Amara is a mute bisexual girl. Not only that, but the full cast beyond the protagonists are so very diverse and it really was an extra bonus in an already fabulous book.

I totally recommend this book to those who enjoy YA Fantasy, and I look forward to more books from Duyvis!

Twitter-sized bites: 
.@Ava_Jae gives 4/5 stars to OTHERBOUND by @corinneduyvis. Have you read this unique YA Fantasy? (Click to tweet)   
Want a diverse YA Fantasy w/ unique magic & fabulous worldbuilding? Try OTHERBOUND by @corinneduyvis. (Click to tweet)

Fixing the First Page Feature #3 Giveaway Winner!

Photo credit: mae.noelle on Flickr
Quick off-schedule post today to announce the winner of the third fixing the first page feature
giveaway! Are you ready? The winner is…


Yay! Congratulations, Jenny! Except to see an e-mail from me very shortly. 

Thanks to everyone who entered! I'll have another one next month, so keep an eye out! :) 

How to Write Awesome Kiss Scenes

Photo credit: °]° on Flickr
NOTE: There's still time to enter the third fixing the first page critique giveaway! Do the thing with the rafflecopter by 11:59 PM EST TODAY (8/22/14) for a chance to win a public critique right here on Writability! 
Stop time.
Stop the world.
Stop everything for the moment he crosses the room and pulls me into his arms and pins me against the wall and I’m spinning and standing and not even breathing but I’m alive so alive so very very alive
and he’s kissing me.” 
Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi (Pages 316-317)
My characters like kissing. Some more than others, but amongst my characters at least, it’s a well-known fact that kissing is fun.

Kissing, as it turns out, is also fun to write (coincidence? I think not), but when someone on Twitter asked me for tips for writing good kissing scenes, I realized I’d somehow managed to neglect this topic here on Writability. What. An. Oversight.

I’m remedying that right now.

When it comes to books, kissing scenes tend to be significant for one reason or another. Whether it’s a first kiss, a make up kiss, a crap we shouldn’t have done that (but we really wanted to) kiss, a love-declaring kiss or a kissing because we have to but wait I actually like this kiss (or something else entirely), kissing, in novels, tend to be pretty big turning points for characters.

The best kisses, I’ve found, are rife with meaning. What makes them so fun to read and write isn’t just that the characters are mashing their lips together (though don’t get me wrong—that’s fun too), it’s the implications behind the kiss. Whether it’s the yes! Finally they’re together! or noooo you two aren’t supposed to make out! what makes kissing so fun to read and write is that it means something.

Now, that’s not to say that your characters can’t ever kiss just to show affection, or because they just can’t keep their faces off each other (both are valid reasons for lip-smooshing). But chances are, in writing and in reading, the kisses that get the most page time and in-depth description are the ones that are significant for one reason or another.

As far as the actual writing and description of said kissing goes, it really depends 100% on you and your book. Whether you’re writing YA, NA or even Adult, how much description you go into completely depends on what you’re comfortable with and what’s right for the book. Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge, for example, completely glosses over the kissing and sex, barely getting into any description at all—which is totally okay. Ignite Me and Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi, meanwhile, go into way more description and include a lot of metaphors and poetic language and those make out scenes last several pages. Let it be known Ignite Me and Unravel Me have some of my favorite YA kisses ever. Which is why I shared that one above.


The important thing to pay attention to while writing kiss scenes is what the kiss means for your characters (especially your POV character). If your character is kissing some random stranger at a party and thinking about what a terrible kisser the partner is, that’s just as important to note as a love-declaring let’s be alone together kiss. Even if your characters don’t know what this kiss means, just that they’re kissing and they like it (or not), it’s important to get that across to your readers.

So next time your characters start getting it on, make sure you take some time to think about the significance behind their physical togetherness. Oftentimes an extra spike of meaning into an already awesome kiss can be exactly what you need to take it to the next level.

What books have some of your favorite kisses? 

Twitter-sized bites: 
"What makes kissing so fun to read and write is that it MEANS something." #writetip (Click to tweet)  
Do you have kissing in your WIP? Writer @Ava_Jae shares some tips on getting those romantic scenes right. (Click to tweet

On Prioritizing Your Time

Photo credit: becosky... on Flickr
NOTE: There's still time to enter the third fixing the first page critique giveaway! Do the thing with the rafflecopter by 11:59 PM EST on Friday (8/22/14) for a chance to win a public critique right here on Writability! 

Sometimes, life gets busy. There’s work, schoolwork, parenting work, house work, writing work, marketing work and life stuff, sometimes all rolled up into a week, or a day. And sometimes, finding the time to get that writing work done can be a massive struggle. 

It inevitably happens to all of us at some point or another. 

The key, I’ve found, to consistently keeping up with everything and finding time to write is to carefully prioritize your time. I tend to break things up by hard and soft deadlines. 

My hard deadlines are ones that I need to have done by a certain date. This is usually something that someone else is expecting, whether it’s school work, internship work, a revision, pre-scheduled blog posts/vlogs etc. These are deadlines that generally, I can’t move. If I miss them, there will likely be repercussions. 

Soft deadlines are ones I usually set myself. These are deadlines that I’d like to get done by a certain time, but if need be, I can move them. These are tasks I can put aside for a day or two without having to worry about it. 

Hard deadlines I try to get done first. Because I’m a person that likes to schedule my days, I usually have a to-do list of things that need to be done and things I’d like to get done. I often make sure to check off all the hard deadline items first before I worry about the soft deadlines. 

This is something I had to learn the hard way: the fact of the matter is, some days, writing can’t be a top priority. Some days there’s too much life stuff and work stuff and family stuff and health stuff and everything else to make much writing progress, and you know what? That’s okay. You don’t need to kill yourself to get your daily writing in and you don't need to write every single day to call yourself a writer (really). 

Because other days you will have the time, or some time at least, and those are the days where you can really capitalize on that time to get writing work done. You just have to make sure to get your butt in the chair and do it. 

Do you prioritize your time to try to get your writing work done? 

Twitter-sized bites: 
"The fact of the matter is, some days, writing can’t be a top priority." (Click to tweet)  
Writer @Ava_Jae shares some tips on prioritizing your time and fitting writing into your hectic schedule. (Click to tweet

Vlog: Do You Tell People You're a Writer?

So I've started doing this thing where when I meet people in person, I tell them I'm a writer. And this is why you might consider doing the same: 

Do YOU tell people you're a writer? 

Twitter-sized bites: 
.@Ava_Jae vlogs about why she's started telling people she's a writer. What do you think? (Click to tweet)  
Do YOU tell people you're a writer? Watch @Ava_Jae's vlog and join the discussion. (Click to tweet)

Fixing the First Page Giveaway 3!

Photo credit: Guilherme Tondello on Flickr
Time for another first page giveaway! :D

You guys seem to be enjoying these first page critiques, so I’ll keep doing them as long as people keep entering. Yay!

For those who missed it the first time, the Fixing the First Page features is a public first 250 word critique. Using the lovely rafflecopter widget, anyone interested in winning a PUBLIC (as in, featured in a post on this blog) first page critique can enter.

For an example of what this critique will look like, here’s the last Fixing the First Page post (and the one before that).


  • ONLY the first 250 words will be critiqued (up to finishing the sentence). If you win and send me more, I will crop it myself. No exceptions.

  • ONLY the first page. I don’t want 250 random words from your manuscript, or from chapter 3. If you win the critique and send me anything other than the first 250 words of your manuscript, I will choose someone else.

  • I will actually critique it. Here. On the blog. I will say things as nicely as I can, but I do tend to be a little blunt. If you’re not sure you can handle a public critique, then you may want to take some time to think about it before you enter.

  • Genre restrictions. I am most experienced with YA & NA, but I will still accept MG and Adult. HOWEVER. If your first page has any erotic content on it, I ask that you don’t enter. I want to be able to post the critique and the first 250 in its entirety without making anyone uncomfortable, and if you win and you enter a page with erotic content, I will choose someone else.

  • You must have your first page ready. Should you win, you need to be able to submit your first page within 48 hours of my contacting you to let you know you won. If 48 hours pass and I haven’t heard from you, again, I will choose someone else.

  • You’ll get the most out of this if it isn’t a first draft. Obviously, I have no way of knowing if you’re handing me a first draft (though I will probably suspect because it’s usually not that difficult to tell). I won’t refuse your page if it’s a first draft, but you should know that this critique will likely be of more use if you’ve already had your betas/CPs look over it. Why? Because if you don’t, the critique I give you will probably contain a lot of notes that your betas & CPs could have/would have told you

  • There will not be a round 2 (unless you win again in a future contest). I hate to have to say this, but if you win a critique, it’s NOT an invitation to send me a bunch of your revisions. I wish I had the time available to be able to look at revisions, but sadly, I don’t. If you try to break this rule, I will nicely say no, and also remember to choose someone else should you win a second contest. Which would make me sad. :(

So that’s it! If you’re okay with all of the above and would like to enter to be the third public critique on Writability, do the thing with the rafflecopter widget below. You have until Friday, August 22 at 11:59 EST to enter!


a Rafflecopter giveaway
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