Friday, December 16, 2016

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 152

 A few weekends ago, I had the opportunity to see Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, the spinoff movie from the Harry Potter franchise. It was good fun and kept me entertained, but I'll have to admit that it didn't capture my imagination nearly as much as the Harry Potter movies did. Perhaps it had something to do with the movie taking place somewhere other than Hogwarts (which I always thought was the best part of the franchise), but I suspect it might also have had something to do with the fact that the story was never in book form. In the original Harry Potter movies, the screenwriters and directors had plenty of material from the books to work with, allowing them to pack a lot of content into those movies. But this movie came directly from a screenplay, and so it seemed a little lean at times, depending more on special effects than an engaging story. At least that's the way it seemed to me. My daughter will be seeing the movie this weekend, so I'll be interested to see what she thinks.

In any case, the movie did cause me to set aside the story I've been struggling with working on lately and spend some time working on the Hogwarts' story that started me down the path of writing many years ago. To be honest, working on that fan fic is kind of a guilty pleasure. Since Rowling did a fair amount of telling in her books (and since I'm doing my best to match her style), I don't feel as constrained to follow the so-called "rules of writing" as I do when working on my "real" story.   It's like taking a deep breath of crisp, clean, cool air.

But it's more than just not stressing over the rules.

When I work on my Hogwarts' story, I allow my own voice to come out (since it's rather close to Rowling's) and the words just seem to flow. But when I'm writing my "real" story, the one I'd like to sell one day, I try too hard to make it sound like a "real" book instead of just having fun with it. And so the words, while functional, just seem kind of bland.  So tonight I might try sitting down in front of the computer with a bottle of wine and write whatever pleases my muse, no matter how silly it might sound, and see where it goes.

What can it hurt?

Have a great weekend and enjoy the links!


Make Settings Come to Life with Sensory Details

Formatting Print Interiors for Self-Publishing

Merchandising For Authors

10 Tips For Writing Short Stories That Sell

How to Find Your Agent Match

How to Make Readers Deeply Connect to Your Characters

Business Musings: The Hybrid Learning Curve

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Adding Emotions to Your Stories

One facet of my writing that I’ve been focusing on lately is injecting more emotion into my chapters. I rarely think about this kind of stuff when I’m writing, at least not in the early drafts, so it’s no surprise that my prose is often little more than a flat recounting of the scene. Kind of a “just the facts, ma’am” approach to the words. So I’ve learned that it’s important (read: mandatory) for me to go back over my scenes and amp up the emotions. I don’t need (or want) to make every scene an emotional rollercoaster, but I do want to enhance the natural emotions that are already present.

Sometimes the emotional tone of a scene is self-evident—for example, when the main character is being chased by someone with evil intent. In those instances, even I can figure out how to add emotional cues that show the character is afraid. The hard part is working with scenes that don’t have an obvious emotional component. Consider a scene where a simple conversation takes place between two friends where necessary information is being exchanged. Where’s the emotion in that? Boredom?

In cases like this, the trick is to ferret out whatever small bits of emotion are present and finding a way to amplify them. Does one of the characters have a slight beef with the other because of some past event? Does one of the characters think the other is crazy for taking too many risks? Just because they’re friends doesn’t mean they can’t be mad at each other every once in a while. Bring those conflicts to the fore, even if they don’t have anything specifically to do with the conversation at hand. Your reader will thank you for it.

And if the characters don’t have a reason to be upset with each other, then give them one. That's what subplots are for. Whatever you do, make sure the reader feels some sort of emotion in every scene, no matter how mundane the scene is. In fact, now that I think of it, the more mundane the scene, the more important it is that you find a way to inject emotion into it.

In science fiction and fantasy, one of the most important emotions to evoke is “wonder.” It’s what keeps readers of those genres reading. So when my main character recently arrived at a strange mansion in the middle of the forest for a meeting, I went back through the scene and played up the “wonder” aspects, letting the MC marvel at all the strange things she sees. And if that wasn’t enough, I also had the character worry about what she might have gotten herself into. Just because I know there’s no danger doesn’t mean the reader shouldn’t be worried.

So what do you do to make sure your stories have plenty of emotional content?


Friday, December 9, 2016

Goodbye, Jasmine.

Last night, we said goodbye to one of our cats.  We hadn't known Jasmine long.  We'd found her wandering around outside our house last April and we took her in, much to the displeasure of our other cats.  She was really skinny and ready to eat whatever we gave her.   She wasn't the most affectionate of cats, but she allowed us to pet her sometimes, and often slept on the kids' beds.

It was totally unexpected.  A blood clot had lodged in her lungs, and we didn't have much time to say goodbye.  Our two children, both of whom were at school functions at the time, didn't have a chance to say goodbye at all. Not a great way to start the holiday season.

Goodbye, Jasmine. You'll be missed.

Jasmine, 2016

Here are this week's links.  Enjoy the weekend.


Editing Your Zero Draft

Creating Single-Author Box Sets: Part Two

Helping Your Characters Make a Great First Impression

Three Ways to Make Your Writing Come Alive!

How to Use Fiverr to Create a Book Trailer

Archetypes for the Supporting Cast in Your Novel

A Surefire Way to Add Conflict to Your Story

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Insecure Writer and the Month of December

Today is December's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

What makes me an Insecure Writer this month?


Two Decembers ago, I told myself I’d have my story finished by the end of 2014. Last December I made a similar promise for 2015. Guess what I’m promising myself this December? Arg! My writing pace has certainly increased over the past twelve months, but thank goodness I have a day job.

The IWSG question for December is: In terms of your writing career, where do you see yourself five years from now, and what’s your plan to get there? 

Based on the previous paragraph, the obvious answer would have to be: The same damn place I’m in right now—trying to finish the *%@* story. Seriously though, if I haven’t finished my story in the next five years, it’ll be because I’ve given up. 

Not that I’m ever going to let that happen. 

The real answer: In five years, I’d like to have a couple of books out, along with an established author platform that will direct people to those books. It’s not a fancy plan, but it’ll do. I also hope to have been accepted into Hogwarts as their Potionsmaster by then too. I still haven’t decided whether the odds of that happening are greater or less than my chances of me finishing my story.

Photo Courtesy of Rob Young


In more positive news, Tara Tyler's new book, Cradle Rock, has been released and she's having a party to celebrate. So read on and check it out. And don't forget the raffle at the end of the post.



Gabe the goblin just saved his town Broken Branch Falls from splitting apart. He also revealed that humans--horrible creatures of myth and legend--may actually be part of their history! But seriously? Nah!

Now Ona, Gabe’s girlfriend, is headed thousands of miles away to Camp Cradle Rock for Spring Break seeking evidence of humans. Gabe knows better than to tell a stubborn ogress she’s crazy, so he’s letting her go and spending the break at the beach like a normal teenage beast. And he’s determined to have a good time without her, whether he likes it or not.

But when Gabe hears Ona went missing, he and his friends set out for the wilds of the west to find her, no matter what dangerous creatures get in his way. Not even humans.

Check out the Book Trailer!

Here is the list of wonderful CRADLE ROCK RELEASE PARTY POST HOSTS:

12/5 Patricia Lynne Nerds Rule
12/5 Heather R. Holden Vampires
12/7 Juneta Key author spotlight interview
12/9 Julie Flanders Teenagers Now vs 80s
12/9 Elizabeth Seckman Beast-themed Recipe
12/12 Lori L. MacLaughlin Merfolk
12/14 Sharon Bayliss Ogres
12/14 Tyrean Martinson 5 Reasons to use Chapter Titles
12/16 Michael Di Gesu Craziest Spring Break Trip
12/17 Cathrina Constantine Teen Dating
12/19 Christine Rains Hiking Faux Pas
12/19 Alex J. Cavanaugh Beast vs Monster - terminology
12/21 Ann Noser CR Quotes
12/21 Heather M. Gardner Discrimination - joking vs hurting
1/4 Ken Rahmoeller Dragons
1/4 L. Diane Wolfe Marketing Tips - Live & Online
1/9 C Lee McKenzie Grownup Stereotypes
1/11 M. J. Fifield Crazy Road Trip
1/25 Crystal Collier Poetry & Songs in Stories - Writerly Wed

Tara is also giving away signed copies of Broken Branch Falls and Cradle Rock, some Beast World swag, and a $20 GC! So be sure to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

More Much Of A Post Today

Another Wednesday, another round of laser surgery.  Sigh.

Those of you who've been reading my blog recently know that I've had two surgeries for tears in  my retina in the last couple of months.  So I wasn't completely surprised when I went in to the ophthalmologist this morning for a followup and learned I now had two more tears.  Yep, so more laser surgery for me this morning.

This time, though, instead of just sealing the tears, he went along the entire periphery of the retina and sealed it down to stop any more tears from forming.  He seems rather optimistic about this procedure, since my next followup isn't until March, but I'll be watching for any changes to my vision in the meantime.

As a result of this extra long procedure, I have a headache and my eyes are still so dilated that I need sunglasses inside the house, so this post will be quite short.  Stop by again on Friday for the Writing links.


Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

Just wanted to say Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. I'm especially thankful to have all you supportive writers as friends to help keep me writing.

BTW, once the tryptophan wears off, I promise to get some writing done tonight. I swear it this time!

For those of you in charge of cooking the turkey this year, here's a video you should watch.

How to Fry a Turkey (Without Burning Your House Down)

Happy Thanksgiving!


Friday, November 18, 2016

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 149

None much progress on the writing front this week. Still struggling with the same scene I've been stuck on for an embarrassingly long time. Usually my problem has to do with pacing, but this time I think it comes down to me not really knowing what needs to happen in the scene. I have a bullet list of things I want/need my characters to say and do, but putting it all together in a coherent fashion just isn't working. It might turn out I have to dump some of those items on my checklist, but deciding which of my darlings to kill and which should stay is hard.

Either way, I'm REALLY tired of working on this chapter.

Some of you might recall I had laser surgery to repair a small tear in my retina a couple of months ago. Well, I went back to the doctor for a followup and while the original tear was fine, a new one had developed, which meant I had to go through the laser procedure again. Oh joy! It only took a few minutes, and this time I was prepared for the discomfort, so it wasn't too bad, but I'm praying no new tears show up when I go back in a few weeks.

And if you haven't already seen it, be sure to check out Crystal Collier's post from Wednesday

Have a great weekend and enjoy the links!


5 Ways to use Facebook Groups to Build Book Buzz

Ask the Story Genius: What Does ‘Likeable’ Really Mean?

6 Ways Grammarly Can Improve Your Writing And Editing

The Structure of a Romance Story: Part Two

The Structure of a Romance Story: Part Three

How I fell for The Good Wife…Elements of a Stellar Opening Scene

When It’s OK to Listen to Your Inner Editor

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Creating Balanced Prose: A Guest Post By Crystal Collier

Today, Crystal Collier has stopped by to share info about her new book and to provide some writing tips! Take it away, Crystal!

Creating Balanced Prose

Thank you Ken for having me here today!

Purple prose. Passive voice. Stagnant sentence structure. Rambling. Lackluster language... There are so many ways to go wrong with our writing, it's a wonder we ever get it right.

So how do we get it right?

Every writer is different. You are going to develop your own "voice" if you haven't already. It won't necessarily be like your favorite author's. (It had better not be!) It will be a reflection of your SOUL. But on the less creepy end of things... Your voice will come from your personal understanding of the world, your interpretation of the genre you write, and your inner thoughts.

In order to develop this voice, you need to write BUT also read. Read everything--especially the genre you're writing. Be sure to include books outside of your genre. You'll find beauty in every field, even if you don't love the story conventions or characters.

Now that we're done with the touchy feely, let's talk about mechanics.

Purple prose. This is poetic language that can occasionally become overwrought, overly dramatic, or so poetic that readers scratch their heads. (We don't want head scratching.) The modern trend is to go simple. To ax this pretty stuff. Keep that in mind as you develop your style, and watch for where it appears in your genre. Dean Koontz writes thrillers, but his descriptions are so beautiful they would totally fall into the purple prose arena (according to some). Yet he's a best seller. Know the rules, don't let them crush you. I employ some of this in Moonless and Soulless, because they're both written in a time period where beautiful language prevailed. It's reflective of the era, and thus the filter I chose for telling these stories.

Passive voice. How do we identify it? Passive voice is reactionary. It's distant. It might even be vague. There's something (time, space, another person) between us and the action of the sentences. Ex: The room was cleaned by Angela. (See the distance between the character and the action?) In active voice: Angela cleaned the room. Now people tell us passive voice is NEVER acceptable. Most of the time, that's true. There are rare instances when it's necessary like in SHORT stints of exposition. (Quick backstory or summary to get us from one active scene to the next, or one active thought to the next.) To overcome passive voice, focus on the action of the moment and bring it to the front. Shove it in our faces. Throw the rest away.

Sentence structure. I'm not talking noun/verb. I'm talking variation and length. If you start five sentences in a row with "He", you're due for some revising. If you start each paragraph with sequence clauses (Before he ate dinner, he...), you should probably examine your method. And length. As readers, we like change. We like diversification. We need a break from long rambling sentences for sharp, single-word statements. See? The same goes for paragraph structure/length. The biggest thing I learned from script writing was not to fear white space. White space on the page gives readers a subconscious breath of fresh air. Some authors even apply this concept to chapter length. (Ahem. *points to self*)

Overwriting or rambling. Awesome writing is tight. Don't bore us with details that won't further the story. We know the character walked across the room because we see he is now looking out the peephole of the door. No need to tell us he walked across the room UNLESS you are using the action to show the character's emotional state. Tags are also not necessary when you have action beats that point us to the speaker. Likewise, examine your descriptions. Make sure every one of them points us to the MOST important aspect. The box may have four sides, but what can the character see and WHY are they focusing on it? Make your description purposeful. For instance, you may wish to describe a starry sky, but what the reader wants to know is that it's night, and the mood of that night. It could be terrifying, suffocating, awe-inspiring, or filled with jittery anticipation. Whatever it is, use language in your descriptions to bring out the mood. Another quick tip--don't repeat dialog in thought processes. And lastly, avoid adjectives and adverbs. They don't strengthen sentences. They bog them down. A great way to practice tightening up your writing is by trying your hand at Flash Fiction.

What advice do you have for writing balanced prose?

Thanks again, Crystal.  And if you guys enjoyed what she had to say, why don't you consider checking out her latest book? And don't forget to spin the scary-looking wheel at the end of this post.

In 1771, Alexia had everything: the man of her dreams, reconciliation with her father, even a child on the way. But she was never meant to stay. It broke her heart, but Alexia heeded destiny and traveled five hundred years back to stop the Soulless from becoming.

In the thirteenth century, the Holy Roman Church has ordered the Knights Templar to exterminate the Passionate, her bloodline. As Alexia fights this new threat—along with an unfathomable evil and her own heart—the Soulless genesis nears. But none of her hard-won battles may matter if she dies in childbirth before completing her mission.

Can Alexia escape her own clock?

BUY: Amazon | B&N

Crystal Collier is an eclectic author who pens clean fantasy/sci-fi, historical, and romance stories with the occasional touch of humor, horror, or inspiration. She practices her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, four littles, and “friend” (a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese.

Find her online HERE

(Email address is required for awarding prizes.)

Friday, November 11, 2016

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 148

There was no Wednesday post this week. Like a lot of people, I was distressed by Tuesday's results. The last time we elected someone for president whose qualifications were suspect, we found ourselves mired in a disasterous war (the cost of which is estimated to have paid for Obamacare for the next 50 years) and our economy cratered.

And Trump makes Bush look like a genius.

What really distresses me is that exit polls revealed that a significant number of people who voted for Trump admitted that they believed Hillary was more qualified to be president, but thought that sending a loose cannon like Trump to Washington might just shake things up, hopefully for the good.

Be careful what you wish for.    All the reports out there so far are that, instead of surrounding himself with experts, Trump seems intent on surrounding himself with echo chamber buddies like Steve Bannon, Sean Hannity, and Newt Gingrich.

Any bets as to how many wars we're going to get into this time? Sigh...


(NaNoWriMo Day 9): 8th Key Scene: Tests & Trials

Getting Middle Grade Voice Right

3 Ways to Improve Your Storytelling

Can Social Media Really Sell Your Books?

Mastering Stylistic Tension

Nanowrimo: Act I questions and prompts

Not a writing link, but I thought this post by Chuck Wendig seemed appropriate.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 147

In an surprise announcement that should surprise no one, I didn't finish my submission for the IWSG Anthology.  Knowing how slowly I write, I should have started working on it far earlier than I did.  My bad, although life did have something to do with missing the deadline.

This week's video is an interview with Michael Hauge where he discusses the main character's internal journey in books and movies.  If you're a writer and haven't heard of "The Hero's Journey" or Michael Hauge yet, then I suggest you Google them right now. If you want to add depth to your story, this is definitely one way to do it.

Have a great weekend and enjoy the links!


P.S. For those of you watching on mobile devices, please let me know if the video doesn't work properly.


The Links:

5 Ways That Authors Can Use Facebook Advertising

How to Get 10,000 Visits to Your Blog in One Day with No Platform

Understanding Inner Conflict with Story Expert Michael Hauge

How Filtering the Point of View Affects Show, Don’t Tell
This is from Janice Hardy's new book Understanding Show, Don't Tell. I highly recommend the book.

Indie Publishing Paths: What’s Your Newsletter Plan? Part Four

Audiobooks 101: a Beginner’s Look at the Process of Getting an Audiobook Made

Writing Basics: The Act Two Disaster

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Insecure Writer and Being Able to Share Your Worlds

Today is November's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

And this month's question is:

“What's my favorite aspect of being a writer?” 

The answer: Being able to create my own worlds and characters. 

Seems like an obvious answer, right?  Who wouldn't want to be in charge of a world?  Making the rules.  Deciding who lives or dies. Heck, having the final say over what happens to my characters and my world is just plain intoxicating.  As Mel Brooks once said, "It's good to be the king."  

But now that I think about it, I realize that being able to create worlds is not the full answer. I could do all that creating in the privacy of my own head and never write a single word. What gets my juices flowing is sharing those worlds and characters with others. The people and places in my stories may feel real to me when I dream them up, and even more real when I put them down on paper, but when I share those stories with other people, the realness factor jumps by an order of magnitude. And the more people I share my story with, the better.

But none of that will happen if I don't finish my story, so I'm determined to keep writing until the world has a chance to see my completed story. 

That’s the attitude that keeps me coming back to the manuscript during those dark days when the words don’t come. 


Friday, October 28, 2016

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 146

My presentation on story structure last night went well, so I can finally get back to writing again. As usual, being forced to organize my thoughts on the subject reminded me of things I need to fix in my story, so it was definitely worth the effort.

It didn't occur to me until just before the talk that this was the perfect time to be giving such a presentation, since NaNo is right around the corner, and trying to finish NaNo without a good outline is just plain hard. Hopefully a few of the attendees will be psyched for entering NaNo this year.

This week I'm also including a video you might enjoy. Chemists answer the question: How Much Candy Would Kill You?

Yes, we chemists are a strange lot. For example, the old timey name of lead acetate is "sugar of lead." Why did chemists call it this? Because it has a sweet taste. How did those chemists know this LEAD containing compound tasted sweet?

Take a wild guess.

Chemists didn't always live so long back in the old days.

Have a great weekend and enjoy the links!


P.S. For those of you watching on mobile devices, please let me know if the video doesn't work properly.


Promoting a Sequel in a Book’s Back Matter

Understanding Goal, Motivation, and Conflict: CONFLICT

Instafreebie as Lead Generator

13 Reasons Authors are Mistaken for Serial Killers

3 Reasons Your Manuscript Gets Rejected by Agents

7 Questions To Ask When Creating Character Goals

Generic Dialogue—Staaaahp

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Giving Back To The Writing Community

Picture courtesy of Pixabay

This will be a rather short blog post today. Between helping my daughter with her pre-calculus class, decorating the outside of our house for Halloween, and preparing for a presentation on story structure I’ll be giving tomorrow at a local writer’s group, I simply don’t have the time. 

At first glance, it might seem surprising I’m giving a presentation on a writing related topic when I have yet to finish my first book, but it makes sense when you know more about me. My glacial writing pace stems from my difficulty in translating the ideas inside my head to words on a page, not from a lack of understanding of story structure. In fact, that subject is one of the few things about writing that I actually get. 

I still struggle with showing versus telling, my descriptions often sound like bullet lists on a PowerPoint slide, and my dialogue needs lots of work, but story structure just makes sense to me. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I’m a heavy plotter deep down inside. Maybe it’s because story structure feels like a science to me, and I’m good at science. Whatever the reason, it's easy for me to spot problems with story structure both in my own stories and in the books I beta-read. 

After all the help and wisdom I’ve received from other writers over the years, sharing what I’m good at with the writing community is the least I can do. 

Question: what aspect of writing are you best at, and how do you share that knowledge with your fellow writers?


Friday, October 21, 2016

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 145

Kind of took a break from writing this week.  After pounding away on my submission for the IWSG Anthology, I came to the conclusion that I wouldn't have it finished by the deadline, so I decided to set everything aside and concentrate on the Story Structure presentation I'll be giving at a local writer's group next Thursday. Maybe next year.  Sigh...

One of the links this week leads to a YouTube video explaining the character types in "The Hero's Journey."  I've embedded it into the post so you can watch it without leaving the blog, but I'm some problems getting it to work right.  If it doesn't work for you, just click on the link instead.

Have a great weekend and enjoy the links!


Book Marketing: How to Use Bookmarks to Market Self-published Books

Creating Single-Author Box Sets: Part One

Do Your Settings Contain An Emotional Value?

Should Published Stories Be Set in Stone?

Don’t Make These 5 Mistakes Make When Writing Romance

Story Structure: What Are Pinch Points?

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

What I Learned About My Writing Process This Week

Last Friday, I submitted another chapter of my WIP to my critique group [it was due Thursday, :( ] and I thought I’d use this post to muse on two lessons I learned in the process. 

Lesson #1. I don’t write well on deadlines. I spent two weeks trying to whip that chapter into something I’d feel comfortable submitting to my CPs, but as the submission deadline approached, my progress slowed to a crawl. I eventually turned in what I had, not particularly happy with the words, but figuring they were good enough for my CPs to spot pacing issues. 

The next morning, I slept late, relieved I no longer had to worry about the chapter. I eventually got up, had some breakfast, then fired up the computer and glanced at the WIP again. Almost immediately I realized what needed to be done to fix many of the trouble areas that had stumped me the night before. Within a couple of hours, I had fixed half the chapter to my satisfaction. Then it occurred to me that if I finished the revisions by that evening, I could resubmit the improved version to my CPs. Of course, as soon as I set that deadline, my progress slowed to a crawl again. Lesson learned. Deadlines are not my friends. 

Lesson #2. It’s not unusual for me to hit a wall when I’m working on a scene or chapter, and this chapter was no different. The scene was 80% ready, but there were sections here and there that just didn’t work. I rearranged words, rewrote paragraphs, etc. trying to determine what the problem was. I eventually figured it out, but this time I noticed a pattern. In each case, the problem stemmed from trying to rush through that part of the scene. Places where I had crammed too much stuff into too small a space, like I was in a hurry to move on to the good stuff. As soon as I fleshed out the scene, the problem disappeared. Now if only I can train myself to spot that problem earlier in the writing process. 

On a happier note, today’s my birthday. 

Picture courtesy Creative Commons

One of my friends gave me a White Castle gift card for a present. Guess where I’m heading for lunch today?

Question: How many of you enjoy White Castle? 


Friday, October 7, 2016

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 143

I would have finished this post last night, but midway through I discovered Janice Hardy's new book "Understanding Show, Not Tell" had just been released and I ordered the Kindle version immediately. Janice's blog, Fiction University, is one of the most consistently useful writing sites I've ever come across, and many of the links I post on Fridays come from her or her guest posters.

Needless to say, I curled up in bed with my Kindle and stayed up late reading, so it was Mountain Dew for breakfast this morning. <Yawns>

I only hope I'll be able to concentrate on writing this weekend instead of spending all my time reading her book.

Have a great weekend and enjoy the links!


10 Quick Marketing Fixes For Authors

Indie Publishing Paths: What’s Your Newsletter Plan? Part Three

4 Tips for Preventing Flat Descriptions

Understanding Goal, Motivation, and Conflict: GOAL 

How to Cultivate a Winning Author/Blogger Relationship

Free Book Promotions: Are They Worth It?

A Checklist for Publishing Your Book

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Insecure Writer and Knowing When Your Story is Ready

Today is October's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

What makes me an Insecure Writer this month?

To be honestnothing.

Okay, to be more precise, I have no new insecurities this month. All the old ones are still around to keep me warm at night, so I know I’m still a writer. But now that that's out of the way, let’s concentrate on October’s IWSG question.

“When do you know your story is ready?” 

Funnily enough, my September IWSG post focused on almost the exact same question.  And my honest answer was, "I don’t know." Since I haven’t finished a story yet, I have no experience in these matters. But if pressed, I’d guess I’d feel my story was ready when two things happened. 

1. My critique partners tell me it’s done and suggest it's about time I move on to something else. They also hint that they never want to see that story again. 

2. When all subsequent changes by me consist of nothing more than cosmetic wordsmithing. 

I know I’ll never really feel my story is ready, but sometimes you just have to shove your children out into the world and let them go.


Friday, September 30, 2016

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 142

It's been cool and rather rainy around here over the past week, and all I can say is, "Woohoo!"

Maybe some of you detest the rain, but I love it.  And combined with the cool weather, it feels like fall is here, my favorite time of the year.   Fall charges up my writing batteries like nothing else, so I'm looking forward to this weekend.  Give me this kind of weather, a howling wind, a deserted castle to write in and I'd be in seventh heaven.

Oh, and I'd probably need spare batteries for the laptop, too.

Have a great fall-ish kind of  weekend and enjoy the links!


How to Make the Most of Goodreads Giveaways

"Going Wide" Part 2 - Gaining Traction on Kobo

Tips for Making Yourself More Promote-able

Bloggers: 10 Sites With Public Domain, High Resolution, Images
I keep telling myself that I need to add pictures to my posts. Maybe this is just the push I need.

Become a Story Genius: How Your Character’s Misbelief Drives The Plot

10 Things Authors Need to Stop Doing on Social Media Immediately


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Time Needed Between Revisions

I’m not a happy camper writer these days.

Ten months ago, I had a nice little writing routine. I had (and still have) two critique groups, both of which met once a month. Back then, the people in Group A were my first alpha readers, often reading my chapters shortly after I wrote them. Group A provided me with valuable insights as to what was working and what wasn’t, and after collecting their comments and suggestions, I’d set the chapter aside to simmer and move on to the next one.

Group B is my next wave of readers. They don’t see a chapter until after I’ve made the revisions from Group A. Since Group B is farther behind in the story, it was usually several months before I needed to make these revisions. This meant I approached the chapter with fresh eyes when the time came to ready it for Group B. And as most of you know, spending time away from your words before revising them is a good thing.

Unfortunately, “months” have now turned to “days.” For a whole slew of reasons (missed crit group meetings, failure to submit chapters when they weren’t ready, differences between submission lengths), Group B has now caught up with Group A. This month, I submitted my latest chapter to Group A on the 8th, received the crits back on the 15th, then rushed to incorporate these changes (some of them significant in scope) before submitting the chapter to Group B less than ten days later. 

Ten days may seem like a long time for some of you fast writers out there, but to me it’s like speed writing—on steroids! Not to mention the fact that I was already so tired of staring at that damn chapter by the time I’d turned it in to Group A, it was a real slog to reopen it in order to do the revisions for Group B.

So what am I going to do next month? I’m going to have Group B critique some other stuff (earlier chapters, other stories) until Group A builds up a good lead on them again. It’s the only way I can climb out of this mess.

Who knows? Maybe this is the incentive I need to write a short story for the IWSG anthology.


Friday, September 23, 2016

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 141

Sigh....  Another week come and gone.  

Progress on my current chapter has been slow.  I already know what happens during the scene, but deciding when everything happens is causing me all sorts of problems.  I know I'll eventually get it all sorted out, but right now it's darned frustrating.

What I need is a large block of uninterrupted time to untangle this mess, and this weekend may be just the ticket. Wish me luck.

Have a great weekend and enjoy the links!



Indie Choices: To Pen Name or Not to Pen Name

Perks and Pitfalls of Twitter Pitches

Creating a Three Dimensional Character

What Makes Fantasy Epic?

Book Readers Live Longer

The Secret to Writing Dynamic Characters: It’s Always Their Fault

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Fantasy - Then and Now: A Guest Post by Tara Tyler

Split Infinity (Apprentice Adept Book 1) by [Anthony, Piers]
Today, you're in for a special treat.  Instead of listening to me whine about being a slow writer, you get to hear from Tara Tyler, who's about to launch the second book in her Broken Branch Falls series.

Take it away, Tara!

Thanks so much for having me, Ken. Love the name of your blog (Hogwarts Sabbatical)! And thanks to everyone for stopping by.

I've been reading fantasy books forever! When I was a "young adult," Piers Anthony was my favorite author and SPLIT INFINITY with a black unicorn crossing swords with a guy on the cover was the first book that sparked my love for reading. One of the crowning moments in my career (so far) was to be included in an anthology with my first favorite author!! (in CHRONOLOGY) But fantasy has come a long way since then...


I'm pretty thrilled with some of the fantasy movies of late - especially the HOBBIT series, another favorite from my youth. One of the few books I was forced to read that I actually enjoyed (along with Jane Eyre, but that's another story) Back then, the majority of traditional fantasy books took you away to a completely new world, with legendary creatures and usually a few humans. Epic Fantasy was incredible when done right, besides Tolkien, there's Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time, Donaldson's Thomas Covenant series, Terry Brooks, and Anne McCaffrey just to name a few more of my faves.

The 13th Floor Complete Collection by [Rains, Christine]Then came the newer fantasy trends. These new books cross genres and bring magic and fantastical creatures into our realistic, modern world. Sure, vampires and werewolves and ghosts have been around for a long time, but today's authors have taken these paranormal creatures a step further by hiding them out in the open among regular humans, like the Twilight series and of course, Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. Have you heard about the new movie coming out soon, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children based on the book by Ransom Riggs? Looks pretty incredible! Reminds me of X-men and their school for mutants, but isn't that sci fi? Or super hero? Things keep getting mixed up! Other new fantasy raves - the mysterious, magical Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and Christine Rains' thrilling paranormal 13th Floor series.

Effigy (The Coileáin Chronicles Book 1) by [Fifield, M.J.]Genre lines are crossing more and more all the time. Writers are mashing up traditional themes coming up with new and exciting story lines. Even with historical - Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies... ugh! But they did it and some folks thought it was pretty good. We're opening our minds and broadening our scopes. No more limitations on imagination! My own series stars teen beasts in high school who don't believe in humans!

But don't worry, there are still traditional epic fantasy series. Game of Thrones is one of my newer faves. And I'm patiently waiting for MJ Fifield to get the second book in her series done because I so thoroughly enjoyed the tortured queen and her determination in the first! Effigy (The Coileáin Chronicles)

So whether you prefer traditional or new age fantasy, there's something for everyone's tastes and always new options to try!

What was your first favorite book?
What changes have you noticed in Fantasy?
Do you prefer traditional or new age?

    by Tara Tyler
    Publication Date: December 1, 2016

    Welcome to the forest.
    Gabe and his girlfriend Ona are headed in opposite directions for Spring Break. After finding out humans might be a real part of their history, Ona is determined to dig up evidence of them in the mysterious mountains at Camp Cradle Rock. Being a logical goblin, Gabe tries to talk her out of it, but there's just no reasoning with a stubborn ogress.

    When Ona goes missing, Gabe and his friends fly to Cradle Rock to search for her and discover a village of trouble, igniting an age old war. His physical skills may be lacking, but Gabe won't give up. With the help of his diverse group of friends, he will find a way to save his girl and maybe all beastkind. Humans, bah!

    Add to your Reading List on Goodreads!


    Tara Tyler has had a hand in everything from waitressing to rocket engineering. After moving all over, she now writes and teaches math in Ohio with her three active boys and Coach Husband. Currently she has two series, Pop Travel (techno-thriller detective capers) and Broken Branch Falls (fantasy adventures). To squeeze in writing, she economizes her time aka the Lazy Housewife. Make every day an adventure!

    Talk to me!
    Author Blog ~~ @taratylertalks ~~ Facebook ~~ Housewives Blog

    Friday, September 16, 2016

    Seven Writing Links -- Volume 140

    Yesterday was not a good day for me.

    For no apparent reason, my Achilles tendon suddenly started hurting and I hobbled around all day. Then I read the first chapter of a book written by an author friend of mine and found myself wishing I could write as well and as quickly as they seem to be able to do. Then I reread the chapter I'll be submitting to my crit group on Monday and was stunned and depressed by how much more work it needs. I went to bed early last night.

    Today is totally different. It's Friday, my ankle barely hurts, and I'm all ready to jump back into my manuscript and do whatever it takes to make it shine. It's amazing what a little time and sleep can do for you.

    Have a great weekend and enjoy the links!


    Short Stories And Their Structure
    Now that the theme for the IWSG anthology has been announced, perhaps it's the perfect time for this article.

    Selling Books on Social Media: 4 Steps to Less Wasted Time

    The Only 5 Ingredients You Need for Story Subtext

    Want to Make Revisions Easier? Create an Editorial Map

    Does FB Sell Books & Do Writers Need a Facebook Fan Page?

    3 Ways To Use The Setting To Steer Your Story’s Plot

    Query Letters Part 2: The Extras

    Tuesday, September 13, 2016

    Fantasy and the Sense of Wonder, Plus the Cover Reveal for Timeless

    Several years ago, I attended a writer’s workshop hosted by David Farland, a well-known author in the fantasy genre, and one of the topics he discussed was what readers looked for in different genres. Readers of thrillers, for example, wish to feel the rush of adrenaline, romance readers want to feel deep emotions, and readers of fantasy, the kind of stories I write, want to feel a sense of wonder.

    It’s no wonder then, that fantasy (and science fiction) writers often create full blown worlds within their stories, with advanced magic systems, diverse religious societies, and sometimes entire alien ecosystems. They strive to give the reader a sense of wonder that will carry them all the way through the book. Which is why I spent this past week looking for ways to incorporate more wonder into the current chapter of my WIP.

    One of the reasons I enjoyed the Harry Potter series so much was because Rowling never let you forget you were in her wizardring world. Not a page would go by without her adding some little detail to ground you in the setting. Contrast this with some fantasy stories where entire chapters go by without any sense that it’s occurring in another place and/or time.

    My story is an urban fantasy, so I don’t have a ton of world-building available to me, but that’s okay. As long as I keep adding little details that remind the reader they’re in my world, that’s all I need.

    It really is all in the details.


    And speaking of details, I'm happy to be able to show off the cover for Crystal Collier's latest book, Timeless.   Just look at that gorgeous cover.  I'm definitely going to have to find out which cover designer she used.  And be sure to stop by her blog and enter the contest for a chance to win a copy of the book.

    Congratulations, Crystal!

    Time is the enemy.

    In 1771, Alexia had everything: the man of her dreams, reconciliation with her father, even a child on the way. But she was never meant to stay. It broke her heart, but Alexia heeded destiny and traveled five hundred years back to stop the Soulless from becoming.

    In the thirteenth century, the Holy Roman Church has ordered the Knights Templar to exterminate the Passionate, her bloodline. As Alexia fights this new threat—along with an unfathomable evil, and her own heart—the Soulless genesis nears. But none of her hard-won battles may matter if she dies in childbirth before completing her mission.

    Can Alexia escape her own clock?

    Tuesday, September 6, 2016

    The Insecure Writer and Typing "The End"

    Today is September's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

    Why am I an Insecure Writer this month?

    Because I'm not sure what will happen when I finally type the words "The End" on my current manuscript.

    It's not that I'm afraid I'll never finish the story.  I make progress on it (almost) every day, so it's only a matter of time before it's done.  What worries me is that after I finally reach the end, after I've revised it so many times I'm sick to death of it, after I run it past my crit partners so many times they're sick to death of it, that I still won't feel it's ready for prime time.


    Even now, I look back at some of my earlier chapters and think, "hmm.. that scene still needs work."  But what if I always think my scenes still need work, no matter how long I've been tweaking them?  What if I never get to the point where I feel my book is ready for prime time? Will it end up sitting unpublished on the shelf, waiting for my family to submit it posthumously? 

    Unfortunately, I won't know the answer until I type "The End."


    This month's IWSG question: How do you find the time to write in your busy day?

    By scratching and scrounging for every single second.  Between work and family, I don't have a ton of time to write, so I squeeze it in whenever I can.  During lunch at work, at night when everyone else is in bed. or during those rare times when the rest of the family is off doing something else and I'm not feeling guilty about  some chore I should be doing.  Some days I daydream of winning the lottery, just so I could write full time.

    And finally, to end my IWSG post on a positive note, I'm happy to be part of the cover reveal for Tara Tyler's latest book, Cradle Rock. So drop by Tara's blog and check out her IWSG post.

    by Tara Tyler
    Release Date: December 1, 2016

    Welcome to the forest.
    Gabe and his girlfriend Ona are headed in opposite directions for Spring Break. After finding out humans might be a real part of their history, Ona is determined to dig up evidence of them in the mysterious mountains at Camp Cradle Rock. Being a logical goblin, Gabe tries to talk her out of it, but there's just no reasoning with a stubborn ogress.

    When Ona goes missing, Gabe and his friends fly to Cradle Rock to search for her and discover a village of trouble, igniting an age old war. His physical skills may be lacking, but Gabe won't give up. With the help of his diverse group of friends, he will find a way to save his girl and maybe all beastkind. Humans, bah!

    And here's the book trailer! With sketches from my super fantastic inside illustrator, Laura Kramer.