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..., 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 

Monday, July 4, 2016

Citadels of Fire Sale! (And Happy Independence Day!)

Good Morning, All! 

Happy 4th of July to all those in the States celebrating it! Today is our country's birthday and we're so happy to celebrate Independence Day!

So I wasn't going to post this until tomorrow -- I feel kinda weird posting about sales on holidays -- but I wanted everyone to have an extra day to take advantage.

Bastions of Blood (Kremlins #2) will be released August 16, 2016. That's just over 2 months.

Inga has finally found the courage to engage in a relationship with Taras, the only man she’s ever loved, but the winter winds blow cold in Russia, and happiness is short-lived. On the heels of a triumphant victory, Tsar Ivan falls ill and nearly dies, followed by his beloved wife. Everyone knows that Anastasia’s influence on Ivan has been profound. Because she holds both the Tsar’s ear and heart, no one dares harm her. As her condition worsens, Inga sees glimpses of the sadistic creature Ivan was before he married, and knows things are about to become much worse. As Inga fears the future, Taras looks to the past, searching for the elusive answers to his mother’s death. As mystery piles upon mystery, and everyone refuses to talk, Taras begins to wonder if he’ll ever truly understand the event that has plagued him since childhood. As Ivan’s madness grows, he lashes out, and all of Russia feels the sting. Things darken in the Kremlin and the countryside fills with blood; and Inga and Taras cling to one another to survive the new nightmare. If no one reins Ivan in, they may end up losing more than their lives.
So if you haven't read book 1, now's the time to catch up! And today is even more perfect because Citadels of Fire is on sale on both Amazon and Kobo.

In a world where danger hides in plain sight and no one aspires to more than what they were born to, Inga must find the courage to break the oppressive chains she’s been bound with since birth. 
As a maid in the infamous Kremlin, life in 16th-century Russia is bleak and treacherous. That is, until Taras arrives. Convinced that his mother’s death when he was a boy was no mere accident, he returned from England to discover what really happened. While there, he gains favor from the Tsar later known as Ivan the Terrible, the most brutal and notorious ruler ever to sit upon the throne of Russia. Ivan allows him to take a servant, and to save Inga from a brutal boyar intent on raping her, Taras requests Inga to stay in his chambers. 
Up against the social confines of the time, the shadowy conspiracies that cloak their history, and the sexual politics of the Russian Imperial court, Inga and Taras must discover their past, plan for their future, and survive the brutality that permeates life within the four walls that tower over them all, or they may end up like so many citizens of ancient Russia: nothing but flesh and bone mortar for the stones of the Kremlin wall. 

So if you want to get the Citadels of Fire ebook at a steeply discounted price, hop on over to whichever platform you prefer and download it now! The sale will run through Wednesday (7/6).

Everyone have a safe and wonderful holiday!