Winner of the Writer's Companion

The winner is ...


The Anonymous OfficeInmate!

I will contact you with the email address you posted and request your mailing address.

Thank you to all who participated.

Writer's Companion excerpt

The Writer's Companion, helpful for both beginning and experienced writers, covers the writing process from plotting and planning through writing and editing to querying and finding a publisher. I've studied many great books on writing but nothing as comprehensive as this guide.

You will reference these 600 pages of material again and again, manuscript after manuscript, long after you've made millions and topped the best seller lists. I highly recommend this book for every writer and writing hobbyist.

Renée Miller, one of the authors, shares a modified excerpt. Together, Renée and Carlos share some interesting thoughts about the future of publishing.


Thanks for having me, Rita. I always love visiting your blog.

I considered posting an excerpt from the Writer’s Companion that discussed how to do this or that but decided that’s rather uninteresting and not very interactive. Then I recalled the Oracle. As an afterword and closing brooch for the Companion, we wanted to be reckless and play the game of prophesy.

Prophets engage in a risky business, in particular if they survive their prophecies. Most prophets we know of would have had to eat their words if they were still around, though it strikes us as crafty that most weighty prophecies entailed such a long time lapse that the prophet was safe from having to face the hordes of his peeved followers. Others—doomsday prophets in particular—weren’t so lucky and had to swallow a bitter pill (and often run for dear life) when the event didn’t pan out.

In writing the Companion, we researched the publishing industry’s history as well as recent changes. To say the foundations of what used to be are shaky would be an understatement. The question is, how will this pan out for writers? What will the new publishing model be when the dust settles? What’s the future of the publishing industry?

In our opinion, there’s a difference between a forecast that contravenes physics and scientific observation and a prediction founded on logic. Most of the conjectures in Huxley’s Brave New World and Orwell’s 1984 stem from logic. Naturally, with so many variables and unknowns, a logical prophecy doesn’t have more weight than an educated guess.

Our oracle, firmly grounded on state-of-the art resources (crystal ball, tealeaves, Ouija, I-ching and a deck of funny-looking cards), predicts that within the next ten years:

1. E-publishing will overtake traditional publishing.

2. E-publishing with reputable publishers will be as hard to access for new writers as

traditional publishing is at present times.

3. E-publishers will only accept submissions through literary agents.

4. E-books will be rated by an agency, as to their literary and editorial merits.

5. POD will shrink down to a tenth of its present size.

6. Two-thirds of traditional book retailers will have disappeared.

7. The number of readers will remain unchanged.

8. A large percentage of successful writers will issue from the East.

9. Most of the Internet free services to writers will be subscription only.

10. Traditional writers will be on the road to extinction.

We suppose that our readers might agree with some of these predictions and disagree with the rest, perhaps all. In our defense, we attempt to justify the logic behind each forecast in the Writer’s Companion. What do you think? Are we way off base? Share your predictions for the industry over the next decade. We should come back here in 2021 (as long as the doomsday prophets are wrong yet again) and see how close we all came.

I’ll be sharing the basis behind each prediction over on The Edge starting on Sunday. Come on over and share your thoughts. Yes, even if they’re negative ones.

And thank you, Rita, for allowing me to post my insanity.


Thank you, Renee!

Later next week, I will post a giveaway for a copy of the Writer's Companion.  So be sure to come back for more goodies.

Sex in YA Books

When you hit thirteen, you become an adult-in-training. Puberty is the waking of sexuality. We cripple our teenagers if we try to sweep adult issues under the rug. We do them no favors by controlling their thoughts or banning books that contains sexuality.

I can’t even remember how many books I read on the sly when I was a teenager, including Lord of the Rings, Lord of the Flies, and The Eye of the Dragon. None of them were racy or evil, but they were banned from the house all the same. So I kept them in my school locker and read them during study hall.

Rather than banning books, the smarter thing to do is to read the book as well and to keep an open dialog with your kids about issues that the book raises. When it comes to sexuality, there are many topics to discuss: making responsible decisions, knowing what true love is, dealing with making the wrong decision, facing consequences, surviving rape, feeling pressured... What better way is there to learn than to face the problems through the eyes of characters in a book and learn from their mistakes?

YA writers have a responsibility to address these issues. Using flawed characters and difficult situations, writers can help YA readers learn from the characters whose worlds they travel through.

In Going Bovine by Libba Bray, Cameron has sex with a girl from his high school, and when it is over, he feels hollow inside because he never loved her. A great opportunity to learn that sex without love is not satisfying.

In Beauty Queens, also by Libba Bray, one of the girls loses her virginity but discovers afterward that she was used. From the experience, she learns that she has value. How many girls out there make this same mistake? Reading this book and talking about it with an adult would be one of the best ways to avoid making this mistake or to learn how to recover from such an experience.

In White Cat (Curse Workers) and in Red Glove (Curse Workers, Book 2) by Holly Black, Cassel must turn down the girl he has loved since they were best friends as kids. Why? Because her emotions were magically altered to make her love him, and he loves her too much to use her. To protect her from himself, he goes so far as to tell her he doesn’t love her, even when it breaks her heart—and his. Heart wrenching and beautiful.

In Speak by Laura Halse Anderson, a freshman in high school crawls into a shell, refusing to speak, finding every opportunity to hide in the janitor’s closet, failing when she used to be a straight A student, skipping classes, wearing baggy clothes, fighting nightmares. Why? Because she made the mistake of drinking at a party that summer and got raped. Nobody knows. Not the parents or teachers who think that she has a discipline problem. Not the classmates or ex-friends who shun her. Not the art teacher who encourages her. The story carries you through her road to healing. A must read for mothers to share with teenage daughters.

It was hard to make the decisions I did about the content in my book Tears. One beta-reader told me that the detail was too graphic for a YA book. There actually is no on-scene sex in my book. Not even a foreplay scene that fades to black. There are a few kissing scenes that don’t lead anywhere. But the only way readers know that Jaak and Chester have sex is because Chester gets pregnant.

What my beta-reader referred to was Aren’s admiration of Lelea and his vivid imagination about what he would like to do with her:

He would choose a warrior woman to be his mate—like Lelea. Now there was a woman, strong and shapely. She could stalk her prey, wield a knife, shoot even better than he could—she had kicked his ass—and he liked how her nipples perked up under her skintight suit.
Tears by Rita J Webb, page 181

Aren stood behind the two girls in the doorway to the cargo bay. From his angle, he could see nothing but a gray wall and a corner of the metal door on the ceiling—and two perfect butts in tight jumpsuits. He liked Lelea’s better. Maybe because she was shorter; the right height for him to grab it.
Tears by Rita J Webb, page 199

A gun belted to her waist, Lelea strapped a rifle over her shoulder and a knife to her leg. Aren liked how she carried herself. The soft, weak girl he had first met was gone. Was this the real Lelea? A soldier like Jadon?

But then he had fought her in the cave back on Lantis. It had to have been her.

She wore a bodysuit, and her nipples stood out under the cloth. He should look away, he knew, but the perfect curve of her breast…

If only the shirt hung loose, then he could see the pink nipple hidden underneath as she bent over. He imagined it hard between his teeth.

Catching his gaze, she winked. Aren glanced away, his face burning.

Her hand on his shoulder. “Never be ashamed of the wildness that makes you a man.”

His gaze darted back to hers. Her smile ignited a fire within him.
Tears by Rita J Webb, pages 215-216

The last thing I want is to offend, so I almost cut it all out. However, I stopped to think about what it was I wanted to relate to my readers:

1) There’s no shame in healthy sexuality.

2) Fifteen-year-old men think about sex.

3) Men of all ages think about sex.

Ten years of marriage taught me that. A woman who tries to keep her husband’s balls in a jar by the bed will likely have a husband who can’t do much more than watch football and scream for the wench to bring his beer.

I really believe that if you cut away someone’s sexuality, you cut away part of their soul. You leave them crippled inside—man or woman. And so I left the offending passages as they were.