A Year’s Worth of Learning

May 28, 2008 at 12:08 pm | Posted in Bria, dialogue, editing, format, self-editing, Tina Ferraro, writing | 9 Comments

Somewhere — under the bed, behind a bookshelf, on a flash drive at the back of a drawer — you have the first draft of your first manuscript. Go pull it out.

No. Seriously. Go Pull It Out.

OK — If you’ve been following the Purple Hearts, you know I only began writing (again since college) a little over a year ago. Every time I turn around I feel as if I’m learning something new. I’m currently taking Margie Lawson’s ‘Deep EDITing’ course. Run as fast as you can to go take that class! Self-Editing is vital to success.

So, in an effort to see what I’ve learned, I pulled the first 10 pages of my first draft of my first manuscript. Pull yours out and let’s see, shall we?

1. OPENING: Amazingly enough, I started in the correct place – go me! Not as impressive, I opened in the wrong POV. I started in the POV of a secondary character watching the MC as a boy. It makes sense in a lot of ways BUT, it creates an incorrect view of who the story will be following and will easily confuse the reader.
2. POV: Since we’re talking POV, let’s look at that. Two Word: Headhopping (yes, I know that’s 1 word, but it’s a shout out to our girl Tina Ferraro!) I got dizzy following it. I’ve since learned how to pick out scene POV, stay consistent, and transition to the next one.
3. FORMATING: You’re supposed to format these in a specific way? Font? Margins? Spacing? WOW! What looked easy to read a year ago now looks like a train wreck of ink on paper. If you’re looking to see how to set up proper formatting, we did a post on it HERE.

4. TELLING: Surprisingly enough, this wasn’t as horrible as I expected. The opposite was actually true in many places – showing where I should have been telling. Sometimes, you need to just place a one line tell in there to keep the pace, flow and cadence of your story moving. I’ve learned a lot about how to balance that.
5. VAGUE: Just because something is clear to me, doesn’t mean it’s clear on the page. I’ve gotten a lot better at spotting those, at being a reader separate from myself as a writer when looking at my stuff.
6. PUNCTUATION: It’s true. Bad punctuation does distract from the story – no matter how good it is. Dialogue punctuation seems to be a specific problem the more people’s stuff I CP. HERE is a post on how to properly punctuate dialogue.
7. SENTENCE STRUCTURE: Often when trying to get the story on the page, my first attempt looks like this:

Brennid VERB. . . . He VERB. . . .DISCRIPTIVE SENTENCE. . .He VERB. . .She VERB. . .They VERB. . .

How boring! I had to move things around, shake them up and often make passive statements active. A great way to see your structure is to find replace your main characters’ names and “he” and “she” so they’re a bright, bold color. How many kick off a sentence? 


8. PASSIVE: Speaking of passive sentences – Not only does making your sentences active make the reader more involved and the pace quicker but it also forces a hard look at sentence structure.

So, that’s my first year Big Learnings. How about you? What’s changed in your writing this year.

Let us know so we can learn it too!


Heartlette News: Tina Ferraro Book Sense Pick For Spring 2008

February 22, 2008 at 11:40 am | Posted in books, Honorary Heartlette, new releases, news, Tina Ferraro, writing, young adult | 2 Comments

We’re lucky in our friends here at Purple Hearts, but there’s nothing lucky about Tina’s being named to the Spring 2008 Book Sense Children’s Pick list.  It has everything to do with her being hard-working, talented and witty!

She was one of only 7 authors listed under teen reads. Here’s what they had to say:

HOW TO HOOK A HOTTIE: A Novel, by Tina Ferraro (Delacorte Books for Young Readers, $8.99, 9780385734387 / 0385734387) “Ferraro captures the high school voice perfectly with this enjoyable romp about a smart young girl’s desire to make money, only to come up with a slightly harebrained plan that is not what she bargained for. A good, fun read for girls 14 and older.” —Maureen Palacios, Once Upon a Time, Montrose, CA

Check Tina’s Guest Blog out HERE and her author’s website HERE.

And the Winner is. . . .

February 8, 2008 at 5:46 pm | Posted in books, contests, Honorary Heartlette, Tina Ferraro, writing, young adult | 3 Comments


 Congratulations, Rachel. Email me at briaquinlan@aol.com with your address and we’ll make sure you get Tina’s newest book, How To Hook A Hottie.

 I know you’ll love it as much as I did – you’ll have to let us know!

Book Giveaway – How To Hook A Hottie, by Tina Ferraro

February 7, 2008 at 5:02 pm | Posted in books, career, contests, Tina Ferraro, writing, young adult | Leave a comment
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One more day until our February Honorary Heartlette Tina Ferraro gives away a FlanTastic copy of her latest book How To Hook A Hottie.

If you haven’t checked out her guest post, you can see it HERE and enter join the fun to win your own copy.

 Good Luck!

Book Giveaway – How To Hook A Hottie, by Tina Ferraro

February 5, 2008 at 2:13 pm | Posted in books, contests, new releases, Tina Ferraro, writing, young adult | Leave a comment

Three more days till our February Honorary Heartlette Tina Ferraro gives away a FlanTastic copy of her latest book How To Hook A Hottie.

If you haven’t checked out her guest post, you can see it HERE and enter to win your own copy.

 Good Luck!

What Makes a Hottie?

February 4, 2008 at 7:27 am | Posted in character, hero, Jessica, Tina Ferraro, writing, young adult | 5 Comments

In having Tina Ferraro with us this week, we thought it might be a fun topic to talk about hotties.

I’ve had this conversation with my guy-friends and girl-friends alike – what are the qualities you find attractive? And it’s almost always a chicken-and-the-egg kind of discussion . . . you notice someone because you find him attractive, but then you get to know him and are attracted to his other qualities, which then makes him even more physically appealing . . . and those other qualities are what keeps you attracted. Or you get to know him and you learn about all those un-redeeming qualities and, on second glance, you wonder what the heck ever attracted you to him in the first place.

Either way, would you have even given him the time of day without the initial hot little zing that the first glimpse sends shooting from your tummy to your toes?

I admit, I am a sucker for tall, dark, and handsome . . . devilishly, deeply brown eyes . . . a crooked smile . . . beautiful teeth . . . has a great set of hands . . . and is someone who looks good and is as comfortable when he’s dressed up as he is when he’s casual.

I have to say, though, I think hotties come in all shapes and sizes. A bald muscle-man is just as yummy as a lean, nerdy-intellectual-in-glasses. It’s all about how comfortable he is with himself and how he treats the girl in his life.

And how adorable is it when he has some sort of idiosyncratic habit – maybe he crinkles his eyebrows when he concentrates, or ducks his head when he’s embarrassed, or stuffs his hands in his pockets when he doesn’t know what to say. Maybe his voice drops to a softer, hushed, intimate tone when you’re alone together . . . something that speaks more about the way he feels about you than any words can relay.

I love a guy who is intelligent with a smart sense of humor. Someone who has opinions based on experience, not someone who spouts off just to hear himself talk.

But I’ve also learned it’s not all about the packaging. That he’s at his hottest if he’s well-mannered, holds the door for me, or offers to help me carry my bags. That he shows concern, looks out for me, gives me space, or is there for me when I need him most.

My favorite kind of hottie is the one who makes the best kind of friend.

So in the spirit of hottie week here at the Purple Hearts, what makes your hottie list?

Post a hottie comment to any of the blog posts this week to be eligible for our end-of-week drawing to win a copy of Tina Ferraro’s How to Hook a Hottie.

Thanks for visiting! Keep writing!

Honorary Heartlette – Tina Ferraro

February 3, 2008 at 11:03 am | Posted in books, career, contests, Honorary Heartlette, Tina Ferraro, writing, young adult | 44 Comments
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Why YA?


My fourteen year-old niece recently read my work-in-progress and commented to her father (my brother) that “Aunt Tina really understands how teenagers think.” My brother, grinning, responded, “That’s because Aunt Tina still is a teenager.”               

This story greatly amuses me. For on one hand, I’m a responsible adult who manages my writing career, the comings-and-goings of my husband and our three teenagers, and some community service projects. But strip all that away, and I’m a person who is giving herself the happy teen years now that she was too cranky to appreciate the first time around.               

For ever since I made the change from writing adult romance to YA romance, I’m having more fun than an adult should be allowed. There’s nothing better than shutting out my real world of property taxes, laundry, and my impending Empty Nest Syndrome and letting myself sweat the small stuff: my complexion, my grade on a test, or what hero’s text message REALLY means. I love the idea that my whole life is still ahead of me, and is full of endless possibilities.  I could still make my first million before my first wrinkle, “hook a hottie,” and look fantabulous in tight jeans.                

Because when I’m writing for teens, I *am* a teen. Not today’s teenagers, necessarily, not trying to get inside my kids’ heads and live parallel lives. I float back to those thoughts and feelings of my own day, and I write from that perspective–while trying to create storylines, characters and sometimes odd things that would have appealed to me (like uses for an unworn prom dress, a hexagon to define romantic compatibility, and 26 much-needed tips on ways to kiss your next boyfriend). Naturally, I use my kids as sounding boards on slang, present day electronics, and trends, and occasionally a subplot or scenario will arise from something I see or hear from them. But that’s all secondary to my own creativity. The elements of my books start and end with me.                

So that’s my good news for those of you without kids or teens who are interested in writing YA. Don’t feel that put off by a lack of teen contact. You can always find one to read your first draft, chat with other YA authors, or research teen trends through books and the internet. Most important is tapping into your inner teen and remembering what intrigued you, scared you, thrilled you. And to create those characters and storylines. Times have changed, but teenagers really haven’t.                 

And if you’re like me, you’ll find yourself completely engrossed in your stories, laughing out loud at the keyboard, and looking at the world with a revitalized, fresher view. Nothing wrong with that. So excuse me if this sounds like a cliché, but when people ask me, “Why YA?” I am tempted to say, “Why not?”  Because writing YA fills me in a way no other genre does.                

And I am, like, toh-tally okay with that, okay?                                             

Tina is (very generously) giving away a copy of her new book How To Hook A Hottie to one of our commenters at the end of the week- Just let us know what you’ve done to hook a hottie to get in on the giveaway action!

Honorary Heartlette – Tina Ferraro

January 27, 2008 at 4:43 pm | Posted in books, Honorary Heartlette, Tina Ferraro | 2 Comments

Last spring I opened my RWR and saw a cute ad for the new YA book “Top Ten Uses For An Unworn Prom Dress.”

The ad, the title, the cover and the fact that it was a first time author all caught my eye. I bought and read the book that night. Not only that, but I enjoyed it so much I emailed the author.

Twenty minutes later she emailed me back thanking me for the note – how kind! It quickly became apparent that Tina is as sweet as she is smart.

Now, almost a year later, Tina Ferraro has come out with her second book, “How To Hook A Hottie” and continued the run with her quick wit, quirky heroines and who’s the hero plots.

Visit us next Sunday, February 3rd, as Tina joins the Purple Hearts and blogs about “Why YA.”

Heartlette Book Release: Tina Ferraro, “How To Hook A Hottie”

January 8, 2008 at 8:33 pm | Posted in books, Tina Ferraro, writing | 6 Comments

This new book by Purple Hearts favorite, Tina Ferraro, drops today! We are so HOOKED on Tina, we invited her to be our Honorary Heartlette for the month of February.

Tune in for her blog post on February 3, and pick up your copy of Hottie today!

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