<![CDATA[Yvonne Ventresca - Blog]]>Mon, 27 Nov 2017 16:37:36 -0500Weebly<![CDATA[NaNoWriMo and IWSG Blog Hop]]>Wed, 01 Nov 2017 20:58:04 GMThttp://yvonneventresca.com/blog/nanowrimo-and-iwsg-blog-hopHelpful Links Picture
Happy November! Here are a few helpful links to start the month.

For NaNoWriMo participants: How To Start a New Book by author April Henry and Building Self-Care Habits: Refilling the Creative Well to Write Your Best Work by Jamie Raintree. 

(If you are unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo or undecided about trying it, I have a post here, plus a nice photo of me and my mom.)

For introverts: People Who Prefer To Be Alone Have These 6 Special Personality Traits. (I'm not sure how much of this is based on science, but it's a feel-good read.)

For readers: the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators has compiled their annual free recommended reading list of books written by SCBWI members.

For complainers: The 21 Day No Complaint Experiment. (I would probably be on day one of this forever.)

IWSG Blog Hop

Every month, the Insecure Writers Support Group poses an optional question that members can answer in their blog posts.  Special thanks to Alex Cavanaugh for founding IWSG, and to this month’s awesome blog hop co-hosts: ​Tonja Drecker, Diane Burton, MJ Fifield, and Rebecca Douglass. (Be sure to stop by their blogs and say hello!) 

This month’s question is:

Win or not, do you usually finish your NaNo project? Have any of them gone on to be published?
I participated in NaNoWriMo once and completed the 50,000 words. I think it can be a worthwhile experiment and the sense of community support during the month is helpful. I'm still untangling the mess I created (also known as Revision), so that novel is currently unpublished. 

Even if you choose not to participate in NaNoWriMo, the concept offers some interesting productivity principles that can be applied to other projects (or other months):
  • Set a concrete goal.
  • Publicly declare that goal. (Whether this works because of accountability or shame, I’m not sure. But it does change the dynamic from just promising yourself.)
  • Find other people trying for the same goal, if you feel like that will help. (You are all suffering together!)
  • Monitor your progress on a regular basis. (NaNoWriMo includes daily word count tallies.)
  • Consider changing the way you approach a project. For example, I normally edit as I write, but NaNoWriMo encourages participants to keep going, without revising, until they reach the word count goal.
  • Check the results at the end of the project. If you encountered obstacles, think about how you can avoid them in the future.
Best of luck to those who are participating!
Random questions of the month: Are you a complainer?
​Is daylight savings time something you complain about?
<![CDATA[Writing Contests, #BookGiveway, and Tom Petty]]>Mon, 16 Oct 2017 23:02:35 GMThttp://yvonneventresca.com/blog/writing-contests-bookgiveway-and-tom-pettyWriting Contests Picture
The Leyla Beban Young Authors Foundation is hosting a writing contest ($1000 for exactly 1000 words), open to writers in grades 6-12 and their teachers. The deadline is February 1, 2017. Visit their contest page for more information.

Sub It Club posts an excellent round-up of monthly contests and pitch opportunities. You can check out the details on the Sub It Club blog.

We Need Diverse Books is holding a middle grade short story contest for a $1000 prize and publication in their Heroes-Next-Door-themed anthology. Open to unpublished diverse writers 18 years of age or older from all diverse backgrounds (as defined on the WNDB website). Length is 4000 words or less. Deadline is October 31st. Complete information is available here.

The IWSG (Insecure Writers Support Group) has compiled a reference list of contests on their website.​

Goodreads Giveaway

Special thanks to my publisher, Sky Pony Press, for hosting a Black Flowers, White Lies giveaway on Goodreads. Enter before Oct 23rd for your chance to win a hardcover copy. I'm not good at touting my own book, but BuzzFeed said "This suspenseful psychological thriller definitely won’t disappoint" and according to Justine Magazine, "Prepare your fingernails, because tension mounts quickly as Ella’s reality is chipped away piece by piece . . . This one will keep you guessing."

Interesting Links

Writing article: Creating Compelling Consequences for Characters by Mary Kole

Decluttering article: "Americans are pack rats. Swedes have the solution: ‘Death cleaning.’"

Tom Petty interview: I saw Tom Petty in concert more than any other musician. If you're a fan, you might enjoy this 2009 interview.

Do you have any favorite concert memories? Share in the comments.
<![CDATA[IWSG Blog Hop: Using Personal Experiences in Fiction]]>Wed, 04 Oct 2017 19:00:00 GMThttp://yvonneventresca.com/blog/iwsg-blog-hop-using-personal-experiences-in-fiction


​If you're taking part in the YA Scavenger Hunt, go to my previous post for Team Red and the opportunity to win some awesome giveaways! (If you've never tried this hunt to win book prizes, you might like to check it out.)

Helpful Links

Happy October! Here are a few helpful links to start the month.

Productivity article: 7 Productivity Tips I Really Use (Because They Really Work) from productivity expert Laura Vanderkam. 

Writing contest: IWSG is holding its annual anthology contest! Short stories in the mystery/crime/thriller genre are due November 1st. Complete info (theme, submission instructions) is available at the IWSG website.

Writing articles: 6 Tips for Writing Fiction Based on True Events by Lorie Ann Grover and Write What You Know: Bringing Personal Experience Into Your Writing by TJ Cooke. (Both of these articles tie to the IWSG Blog Hop's monthly theme, below.)

IWSG Blog Hop

Every month, the Insecure Writers Support Group poses an optional question that members can answer in their blog posts.  Special thanks to Alex Cavanaugh for founding IWSG, and to this month’s blog hop co-hosts: ​Olga Godim, Chemist Ken, Jennifer Hawes, and Tamara Narayan. Be sure to visit their blogs and say hello! 

This month’s question is:

Have you ever slipped any of your personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose?
Yes, I have fictionalized information and situations in stories on purpose. For example, in Black Flowers, White Lies, Ella's mother is about to remarry, and right before she leaves on her honeymoon, a rift occurs between Ella and her mom. I needed a reason for them to have a falling-out and wanted the mother to be caught in a lie.

​I thought about my experiences with my kids and times when I lied to them. There weren’t very many. I didn’t think sneaking candy from their Halloween stash counted. But then I remembered one big lie that I told.

My daughter once won a goldfish at our local carnival, a black one with bulgy eyes that she named Bubbles. She had Bubbles for over a year during elementary school, but the day before we were supposed to leave on a family vacation, I found Bubbles floating upside down. Now she was really attached to this fish, and I didn’t want to put a damper on our trip by breaking the news that day. When she found the empty gold fish bowl, I explained that the pet store would be taking care of her fish while we were away. The lie went smoothly and then I had another devious-mom idea.

I could replace the fish with a new bubble-eyed goldfish and we’d never even have to tell her!

I called pet stores when we got back until I found a black one, and then I brought it home. There was one problem. My daughter observed in the first ten seconds that this Bubbles was noticeably smaller than the original. “Look at Bubbles,” she said, and I thought for sure I was caught. “He must have missed us. He sure wasn’t eating enough while we were gone.”

I got away with the deception and Bubbles #2 lived a long, happy fish life.

Back to Black Flowers, White Lies. I needed the mom to tell a significant lie. One thing that Ella loves is her cat, Oscar, because Oscar is an important link to her father, who passed away right before she was born. When Oscar dies, Mom adopts a replacement, Oscar the second, without telling Ella the truth.

Unlike me, Ella’s mom gets caught and that’s a major betrayal in trust. It’s a traumatic incident in the story and it sets up the possibility that her mother is deceiving her about other things, like the true cause of her father’s death. This triggers a series of important consequences. 

That's one example of how I fictionalized a personal experience. And I did eventually tell my daughter the truth about Bubbles, in case you were wondering. :)

Now, on a lighter note, what's your favorite Halloween candy?
​Three Musketeers are one of mine.

<![CDATA[YA Scavenger Hunt #YASH]]>Tue, 03 Oct 2017 19:00:00 GMThttp://yvonneventresca.com/blog/ya-scavenger-hunt-yash8494627Welcome to the YA Scavenger Hunt for Team Red!Picture
Welcome to Spring 2017 YA Scavenger Hunt! This bi-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors . . . and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for the team prize--books from Team Red! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for a few days. If you'd like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.

​Scavenger Hunt Directions

Directions: Below, you'll notice that I've hidden my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the RED team, and then add them up.

Entry Form: Once you've added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.

Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian's permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by Sunday, October 8th at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.

Black Flowers, White Lies

If this is your first time to my blog, I'm Yvonne Ventresca, the author of TWO YA novels: PANDEMIC and the psychological thriller, BLACK FLOWERS, WHITE LIES. In BLACK FLOWERS, WHITE LIES, strange events make Ella question what’s real. Is it a haunting or a breakdown? She desperately needs answers, no matter how disturbing the truth might be.

In addition to the Team Red prize, I'm offering an Amazon gift card giveaway. Look for the Rafflecopter at the end of this post. 

Scavenger Hunt Guest Post Featuring CM McCoy

CM McCoy: Also Colleen Oefelein. Colleen is a retired Air Force officer and chemical engineer, an author, blogger, and an associate agent and PR manager at Inklings Literary Agency. She also teaches Irish Dance. A disabled vet, Colleen has interviewed with PEOPLE Magazine, 20/20, and INSIDE EDITION, where she promotes writing for mental and emotional health. She also runs Totem Head's Annual Writing Contest for Kids, now in its eighth year. Some of her off-the-wall talents include speaking in 10-codes (from her time with Alaska State Troopers), and flying helicopters. 

More about CM McCoy's EERIE

Hailey Hartley has just enrolled in the world's premier supernatural university. It's a school she's never heard of, located in a town called The Middle of Nowhere, and run by a creature that's not supposed to exist. But at least she got a scholarship...

Hailey's dreams have always been, well...vivid. As in monsters from her nightmares follow her into her waking life vivid. When her big sister goes missing, eighteen-year-old Hailey finds only one place offers her answers--a paranormal university in Alaska. There, she studies the science of the supernatural and must learn to live with a roommate from Hell, survive her otherworldly classes, and hope the only creature who can save her from an evil monster doesn't decide to kill her himself.     ​Buy the book here.

EERIE Fan Casting

​Hailey: G Hannelius. This is the ONLY actress who could pull off Hailey's unintentionally comic quirkiness. I absolutely adored G in DOG WITH A BLOG.

Holly: A young Holly Marie Combs completely embodies Holly's level-headedness in the face of a horrifying monstrosity.

Fin: If only Jensen Ackles were 20 years younger! His Dean on SUPERNATURAL may go a tad bit over the douche line sometimes, and yet we love him, just like Fin.

Asher: Alex Roe of THE 5TH WAVE fame could totally pull off the brooding and conflicted killer that is Asher.

Giselle: Giselle is so hugely grumpy and stand-offish, yet critical to Hailey's survival. She's snarky and deadly, yet endearingly vulnerable. Only a female John C. McGinley (Dr. Cox of TV's SCRUBS) would do. If you know of an actress who could pull off such a huge character, leave a comment! I maaaaaay have a cool prize for the best suggestion ;-) 

Professor Woodfork: I imagine the ageless professor as an Anthony Stewart Head (from Buffy) only without the British accent. 

Cobon: If that creepy reverend from POLTERGEIST II (Julian Beck) were still alive, he'd make an awesome half-rotted, yet gentlemanly Cobon. 

Thank you, CM McCoy, for that exclusive content! 
Don't forget to enter the contest for a chance to win books! Find my favorite number (in RED) earlier in this post. Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the red team and you'll have all the secret code to enter for the grand prize!

Continue the Hunt

​To keep going on the YA Scavenger Hunt, you need to check out the next author on Team Red: Lindsey Loucks.

​Bonus Giveaway

In addition to contributing to the YASH giveaway, I'm offering my own personal giveaway as well. One winner will receive a set of eight custom designed Black Flower Notecards (inspired by BLACK FLOWERS, WHITE LIES) and a $10 Amazon Gift Card. (This prize is open internationally, but please note: Any winner outside of the US will receive the $10 Amazon Gift Card only.) Good luck!
<![CDATA[Banned Books Week #WordsHavePower]]>Thu, 28 Sep 2017 14:33:26 GMThttp://yvonneventresca.com/blog/banned-books-week-wordshavepowerFrom September 24th through September 30th is Banned Books Week, the American Library Association's celebration of the freedom to read. Banned Books Week has special significance to me because my own high school banned books while I was a student there, and this became the 1982 Supreme Court case Island Trees School District v. Pico.

Did you know that books are still being banned today? According to the ALA website, "Five of the 10 titles on the Top Ten list were removed from the location where the challenge took place. On average, OIF (Office of Intellectual Freedom) finds that 10% of challenges result in the removal of the book."
Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association, ala.org/bbooks/NLW-Top10
Some terminology from ALA: "A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. A banning is the removal of those materials. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. As such, they are a threat to freedom of speech and choice."
For more information about Banned Books Week, visit ALA's website.
American Library Association, ala.org/bbooks/NLW-Top10
<![CDATA[IWSG Blog Hop for Sept and Helpful Links]]>Wed, 06 Sep 2017 11:00:00 GMThttp://yvonneventresca.com/blog/iwsg-blog-hop-for-sept-and-helpful-linksPicture
Happy September! Here are a few helpful links to start the month.

Productivity article: "Forget About Setting Goals. Focus on This Instead"

Writing contest: YARN's Halloween fiction contest (open to teens and adults who write YA)

Parenting: "Getting Your Legal House In Order Before Your Adult Child Leaves for College"

IWSG Blog Hop

Every month, the Insecure Writers Support Group poses an optional question that members can answer in their blog posts.  Special thanks to Alex Cavanaugh for founding IWSG, and to this month’s blog hop co-hosts: ​Tyrean Martinson, Tara Tyler, Raimey Gallant, and Beverly Stowe McClure. Be sure to visit their blogs and say hello! This month’s question:

Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing? For example, by trying a new genre you didn't think you'd be comfortable in?

​Yes, it was a surprise to realize how much I enjoy writing short stories. I find it satisfying to complete a project over a shorter time frame, because novels take so looonnnnggg.

My first published short story, “Escape to Orange Blossom,” appeared in the integrated dystopian anthology, Prep for Doom. Next, “The Art of Remaining Bitter” was selected for inclusion in IWSG’s anthology, Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life. Later in the fall, I have a short story featuring my first adult protagonist. “Justice for Jaynie” will appear in a new Sisters in Crime anthology, Thirty Shades of Dead. Details to follow in a later post.

​In other good news:

I love autumn! What's your favorite thing about this season?
<![CDATA[Book Giveaway and IWSG Monthly Blog Hop]]>Wed, 02 Aug 2017 10:00:00 GMThttp://yvonneventresca.com/blog/book-giveaway-and-iwsg-monthly-blog-hopPicture
Welcome to my blog! If it's your first time here, I blog about writing, productivity, and the creative life. And on the first Wednesday of the month (today!), I participate in the Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG) blog hop.

I'm co-hosting this month, along with Christine Rains, Dolarah at BookLover, Ellen at The Cynical Sailor, and LG Keltner.

​In honor of the hop (created by IWSG founder Alex Cavanaugh ), I'm giving away a copy of the newest IWSG Anthology, Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life. I'm proud to have my short story included ("The Art of Remaining Bitter"). See giveaway details below.

Every month, IWSG poses an optional question that members can answer in their blog posts. This month’s question:

What are your pet peeves when reading/writing/editing?

This is going to sound geeky, but I love the Oxford comma. There was an article in the NY Times about a lawsuit earlier this year that hinged on the comma. Here's a fun explanation about why it matters:

Source: tremetapicture.com

Do you have any grammar pet peeves?
Say hello in the comments and let me know if you are participating in the blog hop.
For more info about IWSG, visit the website.

Now for the giveaway: One winner will receive a copy of the newest IWSG anthology, Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life. (This prize is open internationally, but please note that any winner outside of the US will receive an ebook version instead of the paperback.) Good luck!
<![CDATA[Interesting Links and Liebster Award]]>Mon, 31 Jul 2017 23:27:40 GMThttp://yvonneventresca.com/blog/interesting-links-and-liebster-awardThank you to author Nick Wilford for nominating my blog for the Liebster Award!
Before I answer his questions, I wanted to share a few interesting links I’ve found lately.
And now on to Nick's questions. (You can read his answers on his Speculative Fiction-themed blog here.) 

1. If you were to write a historical novel, which time period would you pick and why?
Actually, I did start a (currently unfinished) historical short story set in 1850s Ohio. Genealogy is one of my favorite hobbies, and we have family history in Ohio, so I thought it would be fun to explore that setting.
2. Have you ever taken a creative writing class and what did you learn? 
I majored in English/Creative Writing in college (along with Computer Science), so I’ve taken quite a few writing classes. One of the main things that I learned was how to take feedback and incorporate critiques into my revisions.
3. Describe one thing from your everyday life that inspires you.
Nature – the overall beauty in even the smallest bits of nature can be inspiring when we take time to notice.
4. What's your social media outlet of choice and why do you enjoy it?
Twitter has been a choice in the past, because I like that you can follow all kinds of interesting people – you don’t need to be “friends.” More recently, I’ve been experimenting with Instagram (follow me @YvonneVentresca) and enjoy the visual nature of it. (See the link about IG tips for writers above.)
5. What's the maddest thing you've done when researching a story?
Besides the many questionable topics I've researched online, I like to research my settings by visiting them at the right time of day (if possible), so I’ve been to some deserted places at night. Here's one of them:
6. Pick a favourite book character and give one question you'd like to ask them.
Hmm. I’m drawing a blank on this one. Feel free to share your own answers in the comments!
7. What did you want to be when you were growing up?
Mostly a writer, but I also considered physical therapist and veterinarian when I was young.
8. Describe one ambition you would still like to achieve.
I’d like to run a half marathon, but an Achilles injury (and some laziness, if I'm being honest) have slowed me down.
9. What was the last book to make a big impression on you?
I loved Kwame Alexander’s Crossover, because it's an emotional story, beautifully told in verse. (It’s geared toward a middle grade audience.)

10. Name one musical artist that inspires you and say why.
Tom Petty (and the Heartbreakers), because after achieving success with the debut album in 1976, he’s sustained amazing longevity, reinventing himself throughout the years.
11. Have you ever been lost and what was the outcome of the situation?
The most memorable time was pre-cell phone, when I got lost in the Ohio woods with my cousin. We tied her pony, Lady, to a tree to mark the path home and went exploring on foot. When the pony untied itself and returned to the barn alone, we were completely disoriented looking for Lady and the right path. It was frightening at the time, but the outcome is a good story we like to retell at family reunions.

It’s your turn!
​Pick any question and share your answer in the comments.
<![CDATA[#IWSG Blog Hop for June]]>Wed, 07 Jun 2017 14:07:47 GMThttp://yvonneventresca.com/blog/iwsg-blog-hop-for-june​I spent last weekend at the NJ SCBWI annual conference, where I had the chance to tell writers about IWSG as a source of information and encouragement. I was proud to sign books there, including the new IWSG anthology, Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life.
Every month, IWSG poses an optional question that members can answer in their blog posts. This month’s question:
Did you ever say “I quit”?
If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?
I haven’t quit yet, although there are two projects (“starter novels,” so-to-speak) that I have abandoned. My debut, Pandemic (published by Sky Pony Press in 2014), was actually the fourth novel I had written. I would encourage writers not to stop after their first, second, or even third attempts at creating a story.
Special thanks to Alex Cavanaugh for founding the group, and to this month’s blog hop co-hosts: JH Moncrieff, Madeline Mora-Summonte, Jen Chandler, Megan Morgan, and Heather Gardner.

Please share your thoughts on quitting, the creative journey, and other writerly stuff in the comments.
<![CDATA[NJ SCBWI Conference 17]]>Tue, 06 Jun 2017 21:04:44 GMThttp://yvonneventresca.com/blog/nj-scbwi-conference-17Picture
The NJ SCBWI annual conference is an educational gathering of children's booklovers. Special thanks to the hardworking NJ SCBWI committee who did an amazing job organizing the event in a new venue. Being surrounded by creative people for two days always makes for a special time, and I have a bit of a sad, let-down feeling now that it’s over. 

Robin Newman, Laurie Wallmark, Darlene Beck-Jacobson, Agent Liza Fleissig, Leslie Santamara, me
Here are a few quotes from the weekend:

Stephen Savage in the opening keynote: “Each book presents new problems.” (As I work on the next novel, it was affirming to hear that each project can test us in different ways.)

Matthew Winner (with Blake Hamilton) during Building an Online Presence (with Benefits), quoting Steve Light: “Run your own race.” (Because we’re all on our own creative paths.)

Gabriela Pereira during 7 Steps to Stronger MG and YA Novels—people may read because of the plot, but it’s the characters they remember.

Scholastic editor Celia Lee’s closing advice to authors at the Editor/Agent panel: “Be nice.” :)

If you attended the conference, do you have a favorite moment? For others, is there a creative lesson you've learned that you'd like to share?