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M.J. Stevens – Author and Creative Spirit

A young woman trying to make sense of the world

Month

August 2014

Little Update

Hi everyone!

Sorry if I’ve been MIA this last few weeks but I’ve been quite busy. I’m working on getting DIVIDED ready (which includes: Proofing, ordering, turning it into an ebook, website set up, convention prep …) 

I will be attending Brisbane Supanova in November with my copies of DIVIDED and of course BOUND and will be hoping to see some of the people that were at Gold Coast in April. And new people of course!

I’ve also been reading reading reading! I call the time that I am writing a book; like full on writing for 3 months “Blackout” it’s where I have trouble absorbing new stories, even movies, because my mind is listening to itself. That sounds super psycho. Anyway, so I am jotting out Liberated but I’m taking my sweet time so I can read more.

Currently I am enjoying The Winner’s Curse and the next book on my list is The Maze Runner before the movie release! It’s all happening on my goodreads

If anyone is going to Oz Comic Con in Brisbane, let me know! I’ll be there on Saturday. I normally cosplay but this year I’m going “Normal”. I will be photographing cosplayers though 🙂 

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My DIVIDED proofs are here!

If you follow my Facebook, then you will know that my proofs for DIVIDED came yesterday! They’re so pretty. It’s great to see your book in print before you order to check for mistakes and printing errors. I am really excited to have these books here. I can officially start my preparations for Supanova!

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Writing Funny

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I love a good joke. In fact, I live for jokes. Nothing is better than a laugh. However, cracking a yarn in real life is different to writing it down on paper. It’s sort of like when you and a friend go out for lunch and something hilarious happens, you go home to tell your partner and end up saying, “I guess you had to be there.” 

Not everyone writes funny well; some people know this and don’t try, others think their funny when their not. There are different kinds of chuckle worthy ways of writing. Some examples are below:

The Straight Joke

This is when you plain and simply write a joke. “What is black and white and read all over? A newspaper. Ha. Ha. Harrrrr.” These jokes can be funny and tacky at the same time. They’re great for characters with a really basic sense of humour. Just makes sure you get them right so the readers can scoff along with you.

The Funny Description

“His eyes look painted on, they’re not blinking or moving. As he stares into my soul, sending shivers up my spine, he reminds me of a disturbing manufacturing reject doll someone gave to charity because it was terrifying children. Now it’s back for revenge.” – Divided, M.J. Stevens

Man I hope you found that funny because it’s mine!! I love describing things in weird ways. Just go with it and see what comes of it. The world is full of freaky people and when you describe them, half the time they come off kind of funny.

The Smarty Pants

There is nothing better than getting a character to use and overly smart word, and then have others make fun of them, or have everyone burst out laughing. Dialogue is such a fun place to make easy and funny images for readers.

Body Language

Only half of our communication is through words. Use that body language! How does she stand? What kind of face would he make? What does she look like when she is stuck between that overgrown bush and barbed-wire fence? For every comic you need a straight-man, someone to play off the jokes, whether they support them or shut them down, it’s funny.

Read me

It always helps to read your jokes aloud. See if they sound funny to you. And when you’ve edited it many, many times: leave it and come back a few weeks later. If you read it and laugh to yourself, forgetting how clever you are, the chances are readers will too.

 Happy Writing!

Bound Offer

Special offer! $5 off BOUND!

Hi everyone!

If you haven’t got your paperback version of BOUND, now is the time!

Prepare for the launch of DIVIDED (The Guardians #2) and read BOUND (The Guardians #1) Follow the adventures of Mellea Wendorn, an average girl working hard to make a life for herself, when she suddenly gets mixed up with the powerful, beautiful and dangerous Montarus family, The Guardians of Selestia. BOUND is YA Sci-fi/Fantasy, fast-paced, exciting and refreshingly free of love-triangles. 

Each copy comes signed to you, or a person of your choice, AND with a bookmark: totally free!!

Bound Offer

‘No good deed ever goes unpunished, Mellea …’ Mellea Wendorn hasn’t exactly had a normal life. Misfortune seems to follow her, and her family, wherever she goes.

However, when Mellea stops to assist a mysterious young man suddenly her prior hardships seem trivial.

His name is Leo. He is a Successor, a child of the Guardians of Selestia. He is royalty. He is handsome. And he wants Mellea completely to himself.

Unable to escape the Guardian’s laws, Mellea must learn the ways of the royals. She is convinced her life can’t get much worse. But when a timeworn Guardian enemy arises from the shadows, Mellea must make a choice that will change her destiny forever.

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My first Vlog!

Hey guys!

My very first author Vlog is now up! 🙂

“Yo, what is up … fresh … ah, mint?” (Thoughts on writing dialogue!)

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At the moment, I write YA fiction. That doesn’t mean that in the future, I wouldn’t like to move onto more literary work. But right now, YA is where I’m comfortable. A big part of that comfort comes from my work with dialogue.

When you start writing, you need to know what makes you happy, and what makes you want to throw your laptop. Some people are amazing at writing descriptions, some are fantastic at coming up with unique places. For me, I was drawn to catchy dialogue. Maybe this is because I started writing scripts for drama classes in high school and it was my job to make them funny (I’m writing another blog on translating humour soon!).

For me, the biggest thing when writing dialogue is deciding whether or not you are going for the here-and-now approach, or longevity. Here’s an example: I recently read a book by author Julie Halpern called The F-it List. This book uses phrases and terms that are currently popping up on social media and generally around us. Personally I found it entertaining. But, what concerns me with this type of dialogue is that in two, five, ten years, teen readers are going to be googling (if google is still around) what YOLO means. It’s a bit like when you watch Happy Days

“You’re the Cat’s Pajamas … ? Did he just insult me?” 

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This isn’t right.

 I’m a self-published author and so I need longevity in my dialogue, because I never know how long it might take for readers to pick up my book. Also my first series is sci-fi/fantasy and based in totally made up world. So … I think calling someone a douche isn’t a great choice; pick accurate phrases for the time and setting.

If you’re a best-selling author with publishing houses knocking down your door, then you can afford to be more forward-thinking with your dialogue. If you’re an indie author and you want to write what is happening now, I certainly won’t bag you out, but remember that it’s always better to challenge yourself than to write what feels easy because it’s around you right now. 

Handy Tips:

1) If you’re not eighteen, but you’re writing an eighteen-year-old, try and remember what it felt like to be eighteen. Were you as confident when you spoke as you are now? Were you MORE confident and lost it somewhere? Use this to develop your protags and badies. 

2) Dialogue is only half actual speaking. Body language is the communication of the future. How does your character sit? Are they a nervous fiddler? Are they a smirking-smartass?

3) It never hurts to read your dialogue aloud. You’ll know instantly if something sounds off. 

4) Remember no one is perfect. I love writing dialogue and yet I still make huge boo-boos. One time, I had a man smack my protagonist with a briefcase and the way I wrote it, it sounded like she really loved it; instead of being extremely annoyed. 

Happy Writing!

Me (2)

 

New google form for DIVIDED

Hello!

With the dates confirmed and new website, I’ve made a new google form for DIVIDED! Please re-submit your answers when you get a chance to help me with pre-orders.

New book + Deadlines are GOOD

It’s both really good and really bad that my brain never sleeps.

I’ve finished DIVIDED and now I’m waiting for the proofs so I can do a final edit and get them ordered for November. In the meanwhile, I’m writing a new book. (The idea felt a bit like this). ShockIt’s not at all Guardian related. Don’t worry, DIVIDED ends with more closure than BOUND so whilst I’m sure you will be excited for LIBERATE you will be more willing to wait until 2015 (without killing me in the meanwhile). 

Sadly for me, I tend to think things and then it becomes set in stone. It happened with DIVIDED. “Wouldn’t it be cool if you could have it ready for Brisbane Supanova in November?” Then I was hell bent in getting it finished. It happened this morning. “Do you think this new book could be ready for March for the indie author event?” AHHH!! Now I have to do it because YES that would be freaking awesome. So the eight month challenge has started again. I usually write books in three months and then sleep for a week. It could totally happen with this new project. 

I think deadlines can be good though. I know a lot of writers who don’t make themselves have things finished by a certain time, and they never finish them. I used to be one. I was so flustered about having things perfect that BOUND took me eight years. If I had reached out for help and advice earlier, it would have sliced about four years off that. So I’ve stopped being afraid to put down the pen once I write THE END and start assessing the work and editing. 

Happy Writing!

M.J. 

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