Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Desolate Mantle Launches Today! Yea!!!

Good Morning, All!

How is everyone doing today? Well, I'm fabulous because today is release day for Desolate Mantle! Yea!!!

This book has been in the works for more than 2 years, so I'm so relieved to finally get it onto the market.

Find it HERE on Amazon!

Tonight is the launch party. I'm hosting it online as a Facebook event and I'll be giving away tons of prized, including copies of Desolate Mantle, copies of my other books, and Amazon gift cards. So come join us for some fun and a chance to win some cool prizes.

Here's the event link if you want to join. I'd love for you to come:

So I guess that's pretty much it. Just the announcement today, but come join us for the launch party. It'll be fun and you could win something super-cool! :D

(Oh, btw, I made a somewhat last-minute decision to make book 1, Dark Remnants, permafree. It hasn't gone free on Amazon yet. It takes a little time for Amazon to price-match and like I said: last minute decision. Totally on me. So you can always wait for Amazon to price match, buy it on another platform if you have the right devices, or if you don't want to wait for a .mobi contact, feel free to contact me personally and I'll send you one. :D)

Wish me luck!

Friday, September 9, 2016

2 Techniques for Coming Up With Premises

Good Morning!

So about a week ago, I had a friend ask me how I come up with story ideas. This is a friend I talk to often and so she knows I always have way more stories in my head than I actually get around to writing. So her question was really more about how I can come up with so many things that can potentially turn into books. We also briefly discussed how to fill out a plot.

For me, it's not very different from coming up with full premises. I have ideas for certain things--often they're situations without full stories attached, or lines of dialogue I think are awesome and want to incorporate. There are hundreds of these little nuggets floating around in my head or in various untidy notebooks that litter my work space. So when I need to round out a plot or character, I often draw on these little idea. Generally I have to find some way to mold them to the story I'm already telling, which can change them a lot from what I had in mind at their inception. But I'll tell you, lovely readers, this is often where the magic happens. 

So how to come up with these premises or little idea nuggets? In my mind, there are two major ways to do it. Either on purpose (sort of forcing it, if you will) or just paying attention to the things that you find interesting. Let me explain.

1. On Purpose - I talked about this a lot in THIS POST and it's a technique I learned from the wonderful Clint Johnson. I know from my description above about forcing it, many people will balk. But I don't mean "forcing it" in the sense you're probably thinking. This is really just about being creative on purpose.

My prowling wolf painting.
Basically, you grab a pen and paper (I find it's much more effective for this exercise than typing on a computer) and you relax your mind. Start with something simple. Mundane, even. The rug on the floor. Maybe that rug has a pattern. What about it? Maybe hidden in the pattern is a prophecy. Maybe the prophecy foretells the end of the world. See what I mean? Just let your mind go. Make associations, do NOT make judgments. Write everything down and just go. If you get stuck, look at something else around you. I'm looking at a painting of wolves on the prowl. Maybe the wolves hold the key to the prophecy. Maybe the wolves are the caretakers of the secret... 

You'll find once you get started that you can go until your hand cramps (or your kids jump on you, your alarm goes off, whatever yanks you unceremoniously out of the Zone). It's such a great exercise for getting the creative juices flowing. Even if what you come up with in any given session doesn't turn into a best-selling novel, you can still come up with nuggets to sprinkle into your writing. Fill in gaps. And occasionally round out stories that win Pulitzer Prizes. (Disclaimer: Have I ever used this technique to win a Pulizter?...No. Other awards yes, but the Pulitzer no. ;D)

(Blurred some plot
stuff out. ;D)
2. Then there is simply paying attention to what interests you. This may seem like an obvious thing to say, but you'd be amazed how few people actually tap this source for story ideas. (The serious writers that do are the ones who carry little notebooks with them everywhere they go.) Of course, it's totally possible these days to do it on your phone as well. I've definitely used that technique before. (The pic at right is notes for Dragon Magic that are on the "notebook" app of my iphone.)

So my friend asked me to give her an example of something I thought was interesting that might turn into a story. Well, I think most of my books have at least something that would qualify, but the example I gave her has to do with a book I'm currently reading and a story I'm not actually writing at present.

As most of you who follow me know, I'm just a little bit fascinated by serial killers.

Just a little bit. ;D

Some time ago--I'm not even sure when or where I first heard it--I learned a little something about the Butcher of Kingsbury Run. He was a prolific serial killer in Cleveland, Ohio in the '30s. The book I'm reading is a non-fiction about the case (In the Wake of the Butcher by James Jessen Badal). But I'm honestly not interested in the Butcher solely bc he was a serial killer (I've read about tons of those) or even because he was never caught (though that does up the interest factor a bit). What REALLY made me interested in the case was finding out that Eliot Ness--yes THE Eliot Ness who brought down Capone and founded the Untouchables--presided over the case. And this was years after his success with the Chicago mob.

Ness was known for being traditional to a fault, extremely moral, and unrelenting in both his strictness and effectiveness at rooting out police corruption. So what would a man like that do with a case that involved an elusive serial killer? How would he handle body parts bobbing in the river every few months, and not being able to stop it. A case like this isn't something you can control or predict. I think it would be an interesting character sketch to explore how a man like Ness (ladybug to Capone's aphid) would react to a situation like that. And then there's the fact that it was never solved. Unlike in Chicago, Ness never got his man.

THAT'S the kind of stuff that fascinates me. THAT's the kind of stuff I want to learn and write about.

Now, chances are EVENTUALLY some piece of writing will come from my research on this, but I have a lot more to do, especially on Ness himself. (The book I'm reading is really more about the facts of the case.) But the point is, I just read a single line about how Eliot Ness eventually presided over the Butcher case and went, "Huh. That's kind of interesting." Boom. A story is born. Don't underestimate the power of tiny tidbits that catch your attention for a few seconds. Write them down, or you'll never know the potential they could have had.

So, what techniques do YOU use to come up with story premises or fill out already-existing plots?

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Insecure Writers Support Group: Time

Good morning and Happy Hump Day! 

It's IWSG day! Thanks to the wonderful Alex Cavanaugh for always bringing us together! Check out THIS PAGE for more info or if you want to participate! 

I wasn't sure what to write about this month, and it's interesting that the question for this month concerns finding time to write, because I thought I might do my post on that anyway. I think I've talked about it before, but it was all I had this month. :D

September 7 Question: How do you find the time to write in your busy day?

I think it's just about prioritizing and planning ahead. With the way my schedule is now, I can't get any work done until I put my 2-year-old nephew (who I tend full time) down for a nap. Then I get a couple of hours of quiet before he wakes up. It never feels like enough time to actually accomplish much. 

But then in the evening, I get more time, too. So I can plan on having a couple of hours in the afternoon and then a little bit bigger chunk in the evening. 

The only downside is that after chasing the bouncing baby nephew around all day (his name is Lyric but I affectionately call him Booger or just "the boogs") I'm often exhausted and not in a mood to write. 

But if I plan beforehand to get certain things done, the mindset can usually override the exhaustion. And if not, I can take a twenty minute nap to recharge before diving in. 

As cliche as it is, it's really just about the mindset. If you put your mind to it, you can do anything. And it's true. Determine that you WILL make time to write, and you will. Even if it's only ten or twenty minutes here and there. At least you'll be making progress. :D

How do you find time to write?

Monday, September 5, 2016

Why Do Serial Killers Fascinate Us So?

Good morning, All! How was everyone's weekend? Good I hope. I'm actually quite proud of myself. I was very productive this weekend. Not that I got EVEYTHING I need to do done (I have a running list of tasks right now) but I definitely made a dent. ;D

So today my post is actually HERE, over at Author Fiona Mitchell's blog. She's hosting me in anticipation of Desolate Mantle being released next week. So hop on over to her blog to read the post, and be sure to thank her for hosting me while you're there. She's awesome, and a very gifted writer.

Desolate Mantle: Release Date 9/13/2016

Click HERE to attend the online launch party, or for more information.

In the most dangerous city in the country, one controlled by the sadistic Sons of Ares gang, Kyra Roberts recently crossed paths with detective Gabe Nichols. She dismissed any liaison with him as impossible, but telling him the truth may prove inevitable...Walking the Slip Mire nightly, dressed in her disguise and trying to infiltrate a homicidal gang, Kyra sees plenty of things she can’t explain. When she begins to suspect a serial killer might be at work, she decides to approach Gabe again.Gabe has plenty to keep him busy: a bizarre missing persons case, a new development in his brother’s cold case, a new neighbor, and the grisly murders that are a nightly ritual in the Slip Mire. When Kyra shows up unexpectedly, he jumps at the chance keep her around, but it’s harder than he bargained for. She’s not an average source any more than she’s an average Mireling. Gabe wishes she would be sensible about her own safety.Their partnership crumbles, but when things become even darker than usual in the Slip Mire, they’ll need one another get survive a hellish situation. If they can’t work together to shoulder their burdens, they’ll find themselves utterly alone. In Abstreuse, it’s not a matter of not coming out of the darkness, but of being absorbed by the darkness itself… 

Happy Monday, Everyone!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Desolate Mantle Launch Party!

Good morning and Happy Hump Day, Everyone!

Couple of things today:

Some of you may have noticed that Bastions of Blood was supposed to be released 8/16 and wasn't. Unfortunately my publisher decided to push the release date back a few months. :( So I'm sorry to those who are waiting for it. I have no power over these decisions for my traditionally published books. I'll post the new release date as soon as I have it.

So those who were so impressed I was releasing two books in two months, yeah not so much. But that's okay.

Meanwhile, Desolate Mantle is still coming out on September 13, 2016. I've scheduled on online launch party for the day of the release. There will be fun questions, contests, prizes (gift cards and free books) and lots of crime fiction chit chat. It'll be super fun.

Click HERE to see the event or if you want to come. (I'd love to have ya! :D)

Also, (website)
Also, (email list)

Finally, both my JFP e-books, The Botanist and Citadels of Fire, are on sale for $1.99 right now. I'm not sure how long they'll be at that price (sort of indefinite right now) but it won't be forever. So if you haven't read them and want to, now's the time! 

 That's it for now. Have a great Thursday!

Monday, August 22, 2016

3 Ways Poetry Can Enhance Your Novel

You know what I've been thinking about lately? Poetry.
I know, right? I'm as shocked as you are. I've never been much of a poet. I mean, I rhyme couplets with the best of them, don't get me wrong. But I took a poetry class in college, thinking it'd be a breeze for me, and found out I sucked.

And granted, that was a college level poetic forms class. Really what I discovered is that I hate conforming to rigid rules in my writing. Some people flourish. I just feel like it stifles my creativity. There are certain genres I don't write for the same reason.

As with anything in life, if I really wanted to be good at poetry--form or otherwise--and I put my mind to it, applied myself, practiced, I could become good at it. I don't have the drive or patience. Basically, I just don't wanna.

But lately I've noticed several different works that have used some kind of poetry--poems, songs, prophecies, if we're talking high fantasy--that really enhance the story.

The example I'll use is a film. It's called Interstellar. Has anyone seen it? If you haven't, it's fantastic and I'd highly recommend it. One of my faves. During the highest-drama parts of the story, when there's the most suspense, the highest stakes, they add a voice-over of Michael Caine (who has a beautiful, calming voice) reciting the Dylan Thomas poem, "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night."

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Something about the juxtaposition of those two things was just so compelling. The first time I watched that film was on a small screen with a terrible internet connection, but I was still completely entranced by it.

So why does adding poetry, lyrics, limericks, etc work so well when they're done correctly? 

1. It can be used as a contrast. It's hard to show high-action drama but also bring across a calm, emotional theme. If you stop in the middle of your action scene to philosophize about theme, it's gonna kill your story. Editors will gleefully take a red pen to that crap. But using poetry accomplishes both at the same time. (Okay, it's harder to do it at the exact same form in book format than in film form, but you get the idea. It's easier to insert a few lines of poetry in an action scene without disrupting the flow of action. Or you can put it right after the scene to reinforce the theme you wanted to get across without being preachy or "telling" your reader something.)

2. It can bring theme across in a more obvious way. Building on #1, you may have a theme you want to bring across, but of course you can't just tell the reader what it is. This is a great way to actually put the theme into the story in a more-obvious way. Some writers may feel that this isn't subtle enough, but I think if done correctly, it can be very powerful.

3. Reinforcement. I keep mentioning theme, but you can use poetry to reinforce anything. Character arcs, symbols, conflicts, foreshadowing. Anything you want. In short, it's another tool writers can use to help not only tell their story, but bring it across in a powerful way.

I've already started employing this method in my WIP, which is a high fantasy. It kind of opens up a whole new world of exciting possibilities.

Have you used poetry, lyrics or something similar in any of your stories? How did it go for you?

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Book Release Dates, Follow Friday, and Friday Funnies!!!


1. Bastions of Blood, Book 2 of Kremlins will be released August 16, 2016. That's only 2 weeks away. Yeah! I will be holding an online Launch Party. Visit THIS LINK for more info or if you're interested in attending. There will be prizes including free ebooks, signed print books, and gift cards

2. Desolate Mantle, Book 2 of Street Games, will be released September 13, 2016. I will be holding an online launch party for that one too. Details forthcoming. 

Follow Friday:

Gain new followers and make new friends with the Book Blogger Feature & Follow! If this is your first time here, welcome! You are about to make some new friends and gain new followers -- but you have to know -- the point of this hop is to follow other bloggers also. I follow you, you follow me.

The Feature & Follow is hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee of Parajunkee's View and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it'll allow us to show off more new blogs!

How does this work? First you leave your name here on this post, (using the linky tools -- keep scrolling!) then you create a post on your own blog that links back to this post (easiest way is to just grab the code under the #FF picture and put it in your post) and then you visit as many blogs as you can and tell them "hi" in their comments (on the post that has the #FF image). You follow them, they follow you. Win. Win. Just make sure to follow back if someone follows you!

What are your favorite podcasts, bookish and non-bookish?

Oh dear. I'm afraid I have a very boring answer for this question: none. I don't usually listen to podcasts. I wish I did as I constantly come across dozens that sound fascinating, but I'm far too busy to spare the time and I currently don't spend enough time in the car or in other places that lend themselves to audio entertainment, so I rarely if ever indulge in such thing. Wish I had a more entertaining answer this week. :D

Friday Funnies

Welcome to Friday Funnies! Because everyone needs a good laugh on Friday.

This is by far the funniest thing I found this week:

It's a TERRIBLE pickup line. Please don't use it on anyone--man, woman, animal... but I did laugh for about ten minutes, and still chuckle whenever it randomly pops into my head.

Happy Friday, Everyone! Hope you all have a fun and safe weekend!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

IWSG: Political Correctness in Our Time

Welcome to my Insecure Writers Support Group post. We post the first Wednesday of every month. Brought together by the wonderful Alex J. Cavanaugh, our purpose is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds! Sign up HERE and visit many other blogs to connect with other writers.

Political Correctness in our Time

So I was surfing Pinterest last week (one of my favorite past times) and I came across the article entitled something along the lines of "5 Signs Your Story is Sexist." I was intrigued so I clicked to read. My first eye-roll happened only the second paragraph. (I don't remember who wrote the article off the top of my head, or what blog it was on. I'm sure I could find it if I looked, but I'm not going to bc I really wasn't impressed with it.)

I won't go over every point the post's writer made, but let's just say there was no way to satisfy her where sexism is concerned. Basically, if you show a female character in any kind of negative light EVER, you're being a sexist. And on the flip side, if you have a male character in any traditional male gender role, EVER, you're being a sexist. 

Don't get me wrong. There were some interesting points that really made me think, but overall, how the hell do you write a story without showing SOMEone in a negative light? 

Answer: You can't.

And I suppose I just really started over-thinking this (I do that) and stressing out about it. Because anytime anyone puts a negative comment on...anything--blog post, FB post, book review, etc.--a host of other Negative Nancys are sure to follow. And it never ceases to amaze me how many people jump to "follow" in the political correctness arena. 

But we just have to remember that readers want compelling stories. And stories are neither compelling nor satisfying if there isn't a clear-cut villain, plenty of character flaws, and the villain doesn't experience poetic justice at some point. So the people who want to read our stories won't take this negative angle.

Then I realized something else about this particular article. It's common to have articles entitled this way aimed toward helping writers. (10 Ways to Make Your Villain More Believable, 5 Tips on World-Building, etc. I've written many such articles myself.) But this isn't a "write tip" article. "5 Signs Your Story is [Already] Sexist." Okay, I inserted the "already" for clarification, but this article was written to attack authors' already-published stories from a politically correct standpoint.

It fails to take into account the fact that these negative characters, be they men or women, eventually get their comeuppance. And THAT is where the true message the author is trying to send lies. Which means the article is missing the entire point of story-telling to begin with.

Always take a step back and ask yourself what an article's agenda is. If it's to help you as a writer--just offer friendly advice--then great. Take the advice. Learn from it. Incorporate it. But if the advice has a negative bent, don't let it stress you out. It's just another way for negative people to discourage you. Don't let them. 

As long as you're true to your characters and your story, and aren't actively TRYING to be bigoted (which almost none of us are) you'll find your audience. Writers, by their very nature, are better than most at seeing and presenting truth, especially that surrounding love, motivations, justice, and the character of a...character. Don't let anything get in the way of that. ;D

What are YOU insecure about this month?

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

What I Learned From a Year Away From my Writing Blog

Picture Source

So the past year has been sort of a crazy one for me. I've mentioned this briefly in other posts. I've blogged off and on a handful of times, but certainly not very regularly. And really, the thing I learned was simply what I like to blog about.

That may sound simple, but here's the thing:

Two years ago, I was an avid blogger. I had different features that I did on different days of the week. Some did better than others. But I rarely had trouble finding things to blog about. But a lot of what I blogged about wasn't directly related to my writing.

So I decided that as part of focusing on my writing, I would change my blog a bit. I would focus more on writing and my author stuff in general.

Yeah, that didn't go over too well. Not only did I not do much blogging over the next year or more, but I hardly did any of my own fiction writing at all. I'm not saying I stopped writing because I changed my blog or anything. It was just par and parcel to how side-tracked I got from my writing.

But the things I HAVE focused on in the past year have been stuff that I genuinely enjoy. I've said that I do a lot in the TWD community. Most of what I do is interpreting symbolism and geeking out about characters and story lines. That's something I genuinely love doing for stories that I enjoy.

Now that I'm actively working on my writing again, I knew I needed to get back to my writer's blog, but I immediately started feeling blocked as to what to write. But of course I never felt that way before.

So what really gave me the epiphany was going to see the new Star Trek film over the weekend. Having spent the last year teaching myself to analyze symbolism, foreshadowing, and other writer-esque things when watching stories on any-sized screen, several really amazing things jumped out at me. (And the film at large was fantastic anyway.) I realized I wanted to do a review for it. But I don't really do things like that on my blog anymore.

So then I found an article about writing a successful author blog. It was a great article that talked about how outdated most author blogging advice is. (I think that's true of most things concerning writing in general these days.) And it simply said that your blog should be a reflection of who you are. Readers want to connect with us on a real level and know that we're real people.

Picture Source
So I realized that the reason I was having trouble with ideas for my blog is that I'm trying to force my blog to be something I think it should be, rather than letting it be the most natural thing it can be.

So, moving forward, I'm not going to limit myself so much on what I post. I don't think I have the time to go back to 5+ posts per week, but my blog, while it will definitely still be writing and story related, will just be about what I'm thinking about this week and how it relates to my writing.

That will be much more a reflection of who I am, what goes on in my convoluted thoughts, and where my writing comes from. I hope to connect with many more people and on a much deeper level than I have in the past year or two.

I'm someone who loves being online and talking to and meeting people. It's one of my favorite past times. So if you want to chat or know anything about me, feel free to ask! ;D

How do you come up with blog content?

Friday, July 15, 2016

Feature and Follow Friday + Friday Funnies

Gain new followers and make new friends with the Book Blogger Feature & Follow! If this is your first time here, welcome! You are about to make some new friends and gain new followers -- but you have to know -- the point of this hop is to follow other bloggers also. I follow you, you follow me.

The Feature & Follow is hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee of Parajunkee's View and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it'll allow us to show off more new blogs!

How does this work? First you leave your name here on this post, (using the linky tools -- keep scrolling!) then you create a post on your own blog that links back to this post (easiest way is to just grab the code under the #FF picture and put it in your post) and then you visit as many blogs as you can and tell them "hi" in their comments (on the post that has the #FF image). You follow them, they follow you. Win. Win. Just make sure to follow back if someone follows you!

What is your favorite character archetype(s)?

I have to pick a favorite, huh? I have an entire Pinterest board called Character Archetypes full of pictures of great potential characters. How about I name one from each of the genres I write?

1) Crime Fiction: Yeah, both The Botanist and Street Games have involve a detective. I know lots of people who work in law enforcement and therefore have a soft spot for cops. In both cases they're good guy cops out to catch a serial killer. And even though that borders on cliche, I hope I do enough with the character that it isn't. Cody Oliver (The Botanist) has a massive scar on his face from scuffling with a pedophile, so not a pretty boy. And Gabe Nichols (Street Games) has a dark and tragic past involving regret over a lost sibling. Always put a twist on your archetypes!

2) Historical: the only one I can think of here is my main character in Citadels of Fire. She's a main in the Kremlin palace and is definitely the mousy type. Not the strongest of female characters. Of course there's Ivan, who is an evil dictator, but he is anything but typical, and then I'm not sure real historical figures count as tropes.

3) Dystopian: I do have a wise, mentor type in Interchron. He's a white-haired man--yes, even called Doc...

...no, not that Doc. He's calm and wise, not at all erratic. But I like this trope because you can create mystery based on what this character knows or figures out that others haven't. You also have a well of knowledge, which can be convenient when dealing with a dystopian world you have to communicate to your readers.

What's YOUR favorite character archetype?

Welcome to Friday Funnies! Because everyone needs a good laugh on Friday.




Hope one of these gave you a smile. Have a wonderful weekend, Everyone! :D

P.S. I completely forgot that I was spotlighted on Author R.K. Grow's website yesterday. It's for the above-mentioned giveaway. She's spotlighting all the authors who are giving away books and she featured me yesterday. It totally slipped my mind until she tagged me on Facebook yesterday afternoon. So head over to this link for the feature, and be sure to enter the giveaway if you haven't yet. There are tons of great books being given away! Happy Friday!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

32 Crutch Words to Slice and Dice from Your Writing

I've done posts about crutch words before, but I thought it was high time I re-visited it. I didn't realize how many crutch words I had until the wonderful Wyatt Winnie (author in my weekly critique group) started calling me out on them. Thank goodness for honest critiquers. Really he only picked up 2 or 3 that I used a lot, but then I started examining my own writing and found a ton more.

So, what is a crutch word, you ask?

It's a word (phrases count too) that any given author uses a lot. Too much, really. We use them in everyday speech as well. Words like, "like," "to be honest," "actually," etc. They're words and phrases that are used so often as crutches or place holders, that they really don't mean anything at all anymore. 

And while they probably aren't AS meaningless in your writing as they are in our everyday speech, what it really comes down to is that they don't add anything in the sentence. And that's my rule of thumb while editing: if I can cut the word and the sentence still makes sense, then I do.

There are exceptions of course, especially with particular character dialogue. Maybe you want them to over-talk so sound less educated or as part of their character. Totally cool if you do. As always, cutting these words is the author's choice.

So I've made it a habit, now, when I'm editing a chapter, to edit for crutch words. The easiest way I've found is to use Word's "Find" function (or whatever program and search function you use) to find and change them on a case by case basis. 

Is it tedious? Yeah, definitely. But as with all things, it just takes practice. At first it will feel like the embodiment of why hell is full of unedited first drafts, but I've gotten to a point where I can do it quite cheerfully. 

And how do I pull that off? Because like all editing, it's a way to make my writing better, stronger, and more readable. And I enjoy that. Not only that, but you know the rule about writing a first draft and then tightening/cutting by 10%? Editing for crutch words will often do that for you automatically. I'll give examples below so you can see.

One other note before I give you the list. There are a few words that I use A LOT. Words like "was," "but," and "that." With those ones I make it a rule to not use them for more than once in 100 words. So if I have a 1000-word document, I can't use "was" more than ten times. Other crutch words that are used less often like "suddenly," "very" and "Just" I try to use zero times. But every so often is okay.

All right. So here is my list of crutch words. Yes, I really do edit every chapter for every one of these. But I'm getting better at it. Once you start noticing and editing for them, you'll unconsciously use them less in your writing, which will make the editing easier anyway. Also, remember that while these will apply to MANY writers out there, each writer has their own unique crutch words as well. So maybe some of these don't apply to you. And probably you have a few that don't apply to me. Isn't variation wonderful!?! ;D

Crutch Words to Edit For:

Because they're used WAY too often and we need to find stronger ways to describe things. Also to stay away from passive voice (was walking, were talking, etc.):

  1. was             
  2. but              
  3. were           
  4. that             
  5. had 

Because 99%+ of the time, you can cut them and your writing will be stronger by leaps and bounds (these are the ones that usually mean absolutely nothing in the sentence):

  1. just
  2. really
  3. especially
  4. suddenly
  5. finally
  6. a bit
  7. for a moment
  8. very 
  9. even
  10. might 
  11. looked 
  12. almost
  13. probably

Because in writing, you either do something or you don't do it. Something is or it isn't. No half-measures:

  1. seemed
  2. began/started
  3. tried/managed

To avoid telling:

  1. looked
  2. realized
  3. knew
  4. saw
  5. heard
  6. smelled 
  7. tasted
  8. felt

Also look out for 

  1. reflexives: "my own," "himself," "herself," "itself,"etc.
  2. transitional overuses: "then," "and" or "but" at the beginning or in the middle of sentences, etc.  
  3. prepositional phrases, especially at the beginning of sentences; they tend to convey information you've already conveyed elsewhere: "before the concert..." "on the way to the market..." "while she brushed her teeth..."

I know this is a lot, but if you get in the habit of editing your crutch words, your writing will be MUCH stronger. It also gives you a great deal of self-awareness as a writer, which is empowering. And that can only be a good thing. ;D

What are YOUR crutch words?

Friday, July 8, 2016

Friday Funnies + Giveaway Reminder

Welcome to Friday Funnies! Because everyone needs a good laugh on Friday.


Just some random minion humor for you today. I'm kinda in love with Wolverine Minion, complete with white tank top and mini-claws. Love it! ;D

Here's a friendly reminder that the wonderful R.K. Grow is doing a massive giveaway wherein she's gotten lots of writers to done their books. I'm giving away an ebook bunch which includes an e-copy of Persistence of Vision, Dark Remnants, The Botanist, and Citadels of Fire to one lucky winner. So hop on over and enter. Even if you don't win my bundle there are TONS of great books being given away. Get in on the hype! 


Happy Friday, Everyone! Have a fun and safe weekend! Xoxo.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Last Day of CoF Sale + Fun Giveaway!

Hi Everyone! How's your week going? Pluggin' on through? Me too.

Just wanted to give you two fun links today. 

1. Today is the last day of the Citadels of Fire ebook sale. It's still being deeply discounted on Amazon . And remember that Bastions of Blood will be out August 16th (pre-order HERE) so now would be a great time to read book 1 in preparation for book 2's release.

(Not to influence you at all but there may be an online launch party. With plot questions. And fun prizes. Just sayin'... ;D)

2. I wanted to promote a fellow blogger's giveaway. (Of course that's partly because I have a stake in it. :D)

The wonderful R.K. Grow is doing a massive giveaway wherein she's gotten lots of writers to done their books. I'm giving away an ebook bunch which includes an e-copy of Persistence of Vision, Dark Remnants, The Botanist, and Citadels of Fire to one lucky winner. So hop on over and enter. Even if you don't win my bundle there are TONS of great books being given away. Get in on the hype! 


(And have a wonderful Thursday, of course. ;D)

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Insecure Writers Support Group (IWSG)

Good Morning, All! I hope everyone had a very fun and safe holiday weekend. Mine was fantastic. It's the first summer I've spent in my new place (been here about 4 mos) and I kid you not, I had a 360 degree fireworks show. Some of the big ones were going off directly over my house. Place sounded like a war zone. It was awesome! :D 

Okay, so it's IWSG day (the day brought to us by the wonderful Alex J. Cavanaugh, where we can vent, swap stories, encourage, and help guide one another through this crazy journey called writing) and I'm actually co-hosting this month. (Yea me!) To be honest, it's the first IWSG post I've done in a LONG time (and that's partly bc I've been kinda neglecting my blog off and on for the past year) but this is the perfect way to get me back into it. 

So today I wanted to talk about something I know a lot of us are nervous about, and that we'll all have to deal with at some point in our writing journeys:

Dealing with Negativity, Hate, Bullying, and Specifically for Us Writers, Bad Reviews.

So here's the thing. The internet isn't going anyway. Online bullying--be it nasty reviews, body shaming, or just other forms of negativity--is a big problem and one that will continue to grow. As artists that put our work out there for others to see/read/experience, we can pretty much count on some negative feedback at some point. (Even J.K.Rowling has haters. I know. I feel ya. I don't get it either--they must be insane--but it's true.)

Over the past year or so I've actually become a fairly strong presence in the TWD online community. That stands for The Walking Dead, for those who don't know. Anyone who's followed me for a while knows I'm a total TWD junkie and consider myself a mega-fan. Just a guilty pleasure for me, though I'll admit that while the show airs (Oct-Nov, Feb-Mar) I get a whole lot less of my own writing done because I'm consumed with, you know, other things. Hehe.

While gaining quite a few followers in this community, I became a target of some pretty heinous hate. And it wasn't just a random, hating troll I could write off as a side effect of the internet. No, it was a woman from my own fandom who just decided to be threatened by me and started hurling all manner of insults and accusations, every one of which was unfounded. I won't go into the whole drama but suffice it to say, it was pretty bad. And did I consider leaving the online fandom? Meh. I think it goes through every person's mind in my situation, but overall no. I'm with the amazing Jeffrey R. Holland who said, "We are not of them who draw back..." (Source)

But I learned some valuable lessons from my experience and wanted to share them. To be honest, most of us writers don't get TOO much hate unless we see a great deal of success. But since we'll all sell at least a billion books in our lifetimes, we'll all have to deal with this eventually, right? ;D

So here we go (sorry that was a lot of intro):

1. Learn the difference between hate/bullying and expressing an opinion. If people are simply saying that they disagree with something, or your book just wasn't for them, that's not hate. That is simply a difference of opinion. And while this might be hard to wrap your head around the first time someone says they couldn't stand your protagonist, you should actually be happy about differing opinions. You're still getting reviews and publicity, and it shows that you've written a character that someone has opinion about. At the very least, if your character got under they're skin, your character was NOT forgettable.

2. If you are in fact dealing with a bully rather than just a (obviously misguided) opinion, learn to distance yourself from the hate. I don't mean in a denial sort of way, but rather take a step back and see the bullying for what it really is. Check out this quote:

And it's really true. If someone is attacking you personally without actually knowing you, or even attacking your story without giving any valid reasons for their dislike, they're argument immediately becomes invalid. So shrug it off. This kind of negativity is generally a form of projection. Those who watch Dr. Phil probably know what that is. It's psychology 101. 

And in my case, I found out months later that most of the things this hater had accused me of (me: "Where is she getting that from? It's ridiculous!") were things that she actually struggled with herself. Ah. Suddenly makes sense. And validation for me. (Yea!) So look at the negativity for what it really is and don't take it personally. 

Truest words ever. (Source)

3. Finally, be confident. Even if you aren't confident, be confident. This is the fake-it-til-you-make-it part. Because what you think about and dream about eventually comes about. So be confident, develop a thick skin so negativity literally slides right off your back. Be positive, encourage, and always buoy people up, no matter the situation or their reaction.

And remember, people. We are the writers of our generation. We are creating the stories and inspirations of tomorrow. And we are not of them that draw back.


Happy IWSG Day, Everyone! Hope it's a great one! 

P.S. Voting for the IWSG Anthology Contest genre runs through 7/8. Click HERE if you're interested in participating. ;D