Friday, March 15, 2013


Goddess Fish Book Tour

SAVING CASEY by Liza O’Connor
A young adult suspense thriller

-What book and/or experience made you want to be a writer?

I think I was born with stories in my head. Before I could even write, I would round up my friends and tell them elaborate stories. Unfortunately, I insisted them to all be true, which the kids believed, but when they went home and told their parents about giant spiders and alligators eating my siblings, oddly, the adults came to a very different conclusion. ‘Don’t play with Liza anymore.’

In my teen years, I amused my friends by writing of my interactions with imaginary characters. Sadly, a mother read one email, assumed my characters to be real, told all the other parents, and they all responded the same, ‘Don’t associate with Liza anymore.’ A sad story, right? However, on the upside, it taught me how to make new friends and gave me lots of time to write and be adventurous. It also gave me time to read the classics, which I believe every writer should undertake, even if they plan to write science fiction or comedy.

-What genres do you write?

The list would be shorter if you asked what genre I don’t write. I have written Historicals, Contemporaries, and Futuristics; books for early teen, young adults, new adult and the adult adults. I’ve also written both fantasy and paranormal. However, Saving Casey, my debut publication, is a Young Adult Contemporary Suspense Thriller which will make you laugh, cry, and yell. So don’t read it at work or school. I’m tired of getting my friends in trouble.

-Blurb for Saving Casey.

Eighty-year-old Cass wakes up in the body of a troubled seventeen-year-old girl named Casey, which all believe has survived a suicide attempt. Cass intends to turn the girl’s life around, only it’s harder than she expects. All Casey’s troubles have now become Cass’s and someone wants her dead.


The scene where Troy admits he loves Cass.

“Any chance you’d be willing to go to a different doctor to get another treatment on your face?”

“I really like Dr. Grey.”

“I know, but we can’t take the chance. You’d visit a doctor in Montana after office hours.”

“Does he have the equivalent experience and skills as Dr. Grey? Because I already have nightmares where I’m blind and irreparably scarred.”

“He won’t touch your eyes. He’ll just work on the cheeks.”

“And if I’m scarred, causing little children to scream at the sight of me, will you still love me?” She expected him to flounder with his response because it required him to actually admit he loved her, something he’d refused to do. To her shock, he replied at once.


“No hesitation?”


“So explain why you’ll love me without hesitation if I’m hideously scarred, but won’t even kiss me when I’m just ghoulishly tattooed?”

“Simple. Dan wouldn’t mind if I’m the only man in the world who still thinks you’re beautiful. But as long as millions of better alternatives exist, Dan would never forgive me for stealing your future.”

She hated it when he nailed the truth. If she were really seventeen, she would agree a hundred percent. Sighing heavily, she muttered, “I’ll see the doctor.”

“He’s not going to leave you scarred, Cass.”

“I hope not, but if he does, I’m holding you to your word.”

“You have it.”

She smiled at the turn of this conversation. “So you think I’m beautiful?”

“Inside and out,” he replied. “We need to change the conversation now.”

“Why? I like this conversation.”

-For other aspiring writers, any tips?

Get out and experience life, so you have a base to write from. Then write the story as it wants to be told, even if it breaks some rules. Finally, join a good supportive critique group, then write, rewrite, and write some more.

-What’s your favorite book/genre to read?

That’s like asking me which child I love best. Sci Fi, Historical Mysteries, and Contemporary Suspense are the main contenders, depending upon my mood.

-What’s your favorite thing you’ve ever written?

I think, my critters favorite is Saving Casey, which is why they insisted I stop writing and finally try to publish. (Writing is so much easier and more fun than publishing. Although I must say, I love the editing process where all the imperfections I couldn’t see on my own get banished.)

I cannot choose between my many novels. I love each one, otherwise I wouldn’t have written it to begin with.


I live in Denville, NJ with my dog, Jess. We hike in fabulous woods every day, rain or shine, sleet or snow. Having an adventurous nature, I learned to fly small cessnas in NJ, hang-glide in New Zealand, kayak in Pennsylvania, ski in New York, scuba dive with great white sharks in Australia, dig up dinosaur bones in Montana, sky dive in Indiana, and raft a class four river in Tasmania. I’m an avid gardener, amateur photographer, and dabbler in watercolors and graphic arts. Yet through my entire life, my first love has and always will be writing novels. I love to create interesting characters, set them loose, and scribe what happens.

Want to buy Saving Casey? Get it at the Bonobookstore, amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

NOTE: Saving Casey will be reduced from $5.99 to $2.99 for the duration of the tour (March 5th-April 11th) at Amazon, B&N, DP/Bono, ARe, Coffee Time Romance, BookStrand and Smashwords.

Also check out Saving Casey videos—the trailer and the Abridged My Crappy New Life series.

Want more from Liza? Check out her blog and website here. Connect with her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

Hey readers,

Me personally, I’d be terrified if I woke up in someone else’s body. Thank you, Liza, for the awesome interview!

Don’t forget to follow the rest of the tour for more about Liza and Saving Casey.

And of course, don’t forget to comment for a chance at some awesome prizes!

Liza will award a $25 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Other random commenters at blog stops will receive: $5 Amazon GCs or tattoos like Casey’s/offer to place tattoos like Casey’s on a jpg picture supplied by winner.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Giving a Good Critique

Hey folks,

I just wrapped up another round of critiques for school—my mini writing group. As usual, my recent writing activity has inspired another “about writing” blog post. Last week I yammered on about the importance of writing groups. This week will stem from that and give the next logical step in the process.

Giving a helpful critique

Since I started pursuing writing seriously a year ago (it’s been a year…?), I’ve gotten many critiques. These have ranged from extremely helpful, to not helpful, to downright mean. Writing is a roll-with-the-punches profession. You’re going to get hit. Be prepared to stand back up.

However, the hit does not need to be spiteful or mean. A good critique should be a series of dull punches, not a shot to the jugular. It’s small wounds that heal quickly, and that’s what I’m going to talk about. How to inflict a series of small wounds that will heal fast and allow for forward motion.

NOTE: All references to violence are strictly hypothetical. Do not smack your critique partners.

Now, because I love 3s, I’m going to divide the helpful critique into (you guessed it) 3 parts.


Start with something positive. It can be anything—character, setting, style—as long as you say something good before you launch into things that need work.

This, however, may vary. Say you have one of those selections that, try as you might, you couldn’t find anything wrong with beyond a few small punctuation errors. Do not start rambling about how this piece was the best thing you’d ever read. Use specifics. Say what worked and why it worked. If nothing else, doing so will help the others in the group understand why Person A’s piece was so well done and how to make there’s shine as brightly.

Now, let’s say you have the opposite. “Oh my gosh, what is this person thinking trying to write?” Don’t say that, not if you value your face. There is always a grain of good in even the worst submission. Find it. If you have to reread ten times, find that bit of good—premise, story arc, punctuation. When you find it, start with that.

Starting with something positive primes the receiver for what’s to come. You’ve told them that, in fact, they are not hopeless. We all believe we’re hopeless at one point or other. Occupational hazard. The critique group is there to help.


You’ve said your “good” peace. Now what?

Now dive into the meat and potatoes. Mention any issues you came across—plot, believability, dialogue, etc. But, and this is very important...


I once had someone tell me “I would have put this down on page two.” Ouch, right? Yes. That was my first real critique session. That burned. As I learned more about writing and critiquing, though, I realized that the real problem wasn’t that someone actually said that. No, the problem was that they never said why they would have put it down on page 2. Being mean is not okay. Being mean and not backing up your words is also not okay.

Always back up your critique—explain why you commented on what you commented on.

“Start a new paragraph when a different character speaks.” (Good advice, but tell them why.) “It’s understood formatting, and it allows the reader to keep track of who is speaking.”

Not only have you corrected an error in the manuscript, you’ve given the receiver knowledge that they can apply to their future writing and to future critiques they give.

Another good technique is to employ questions.

“On page 4 you reference the stork. Since this isn’t Earth, does the stork myth exist on your world?”

This method puts the control back in the writer’s hands. It says “this isn’t a problem unless you say it is.” Because, after all, we are in charge of our own writing.


End with a bang. (You did not know I was going to say that.) No, seriously, end strong. I’ve ended with suggestions for revisions (always with the disclaimer “this is totally up to you). The object is not to tell the writer how to write their story. You can also hold back a good thing from the intro and save it for the ending. Start positive, end positive. A third ending that I’ve never used but seen successfully employed is the “reference material ending.” “If you’ve ever heard of [insert craft book author here], he/she writes [title]. It’s a great reference for [craft element that needs help].

There you go—another 3s from the Lockbox. Take these important life (writing?) lessons and fly with them. And may all your critiques be constructive.

As always, thanks for reading.

Monday, March 11, 2013

My Top 5 Disney Villains

Good Monday,

Yesterday was a thesis submission deadline. This semester I’m contracted to write 30 pages per month. I sent 54. Here’s to productivity.

Anyway, the final scene was from my villain’s perspective. That got me thinking about villains, which reminded me of this post I wrote about villains. After submitting my pages, I decided I was done with writing for the night. That got me to wondering if I wanted to watch a movie. That got me to considering my collection of Disney movies, which in turn got me to thinking about Disney villains.

I didn’t end up watching a movie, but I did think a lot about Disney villains. That led to realizing that I hadn’t written a purely fun blog post in a while.

So that’s what I’m doing today. I present my Top 5 Disney Villains.

-5) Jafar – Aladdin

I haven’t watched Aladdin since I was about 14. The reason I have not watched Aladdin since I was about 14 is because the scene where Jafar throws Aladdin in the water with the weights scares the crap out of me. I’m having a panic attack just thinking about it.


Needless to say, there’s a very good reason why Jafar is on this list. With my reaction above, you might wonder why he’s not higher on the list. Yes he was a jerk. Yes he was power-hungry, and yes, he turned into a genie and rained down destruction on Agrabah. He never got around to killing anyone, and really, Jasmine was onto him the entire time. Great villains keep the good guy in the dark about their true intentions.

-4) Ursula – The Little Mermaid

Her appearance on this list has nothing to do with the fact that I love her, Pat Carroll, or “Poor, Unfortunate Souls.”


Where Jafar wasn’t fooling anyone (with the possible exception of the Sultan), Ursula pooled one over on Ariel. What’s more, though it is never said in the movie, Ursula and King Triton are siblings. That means that Ursula tried to take out her niece. So why slot 4? She too never got around to killing anyone. I know. These are kid movies. Please, hold the “villain didn’t kill anyone because it’s a kids movie” argument till the end. Aside from that, Ariel was not in the best mindset when she made the voice/legs exchange. Perhaps she would have realized how evil Ursula was if she had been. The woman wasn’t exactly subtle.

-3) Claude Frollo – The Hunchback of Notre Dame

I have not seen this movie in a very long time. Despite this, Frollo still wins some kind of jerk of the year award. He manipulated Quasimodo, making him feel as if he couldn’t leave the bell tower. Frollo was also a general sicko. Don’t believe me? Watch this video of the song “Heaven’s Light, Hell Fire.” He’s a sick man. This movie was not meant for kids, but that’s an entirely different blog post. Lastly, he tried to kill Esmeralda because she wouldn’t become his sex kitten/slave/whatever. Not only is he evil, but he’s gross.

-2) Mother Gothel – Tangled

My second ever lockbox post was about Tangled. I talk about Gothel there, but I’ll talk about her again. See above, anyone who forces someone else to live in a tower and uses powers of manipulation to keep said person in said tower wins a spot on this list. As I touch on in my Tangled post, Gothel takes a chunk of the cake because she cared about no one and was willing to do whatever it took to live forever. This includes leaving Eugene/Flynn Rider to suffer and die. If Rapunzel hadn’t spoken up, that’s exactly what Gothel would have done. That wins some kind of b*tch award right there.

And 1….

*drum roll*

-1) Scar – The Lion King

Did you read my post about villains? Of course you did.

In case you haven’t, I’ll recap a tiny bit. Good villains make us hate them. Great villains make us hate them and wonder. Scar makes me wonder.

What did he do that makes him evil? Let’s see. He killed his brother. He would have killed his nephew if the hyenas hadn’t let Simba get away (it’s so hard to find good help). Putting aside the question of whether or not he controlled the weather, he brought death and destruction to the Pride Lands because “I am the king. I can do whatever I want.” And possibly worst of all, he made Simba (a kid and his own nephew) believe he was responsible for Mufasa’s death. If it’s not already apparent, manipulating the mind of an innocent does not sit well with me.

Any doubts to Scar’s evil potential? Watch this video of his single line “…and now everyone knows why” in multiple languages. Then argue with me. 

So what makes me wonder? Scar has the sense of a tortured soul. I want to write his story so badly. I have it all worked out, but…time. And copyright issues. All that aside, though, there is something in Scar’s childhood that made him this way. He’s fighting his own demons, and that is why he takes spot #1. Behind all the terrible things he did, there is a lion cub who could have grown up all right if he’d just turned left instead of right somewhere. If I ever get to write his story, you’ll see what I mean.

There they are—my top 5. Thoughts?

As always, thanks for reading.