Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Wisdom of the Journey

Many years ago, a friend of mine and I attended wine tasting parties. I wanted to learn about wines, and these parties were a good way to find out which wines I liked and which I didn’t. It didn’t take long to realize I liked sweet white wines and disliked the mouth puckering tastes of reds. My friend explained that my palate was still immature, and that if I kept drinking wines, I’d eventually graduate past sweet whites and move on to the reds. I’ll never know if he was correct about that—I eventually stopped going to wine tastings and white wines are still my favorite—but I’ve always wondered what would have happened if I hadn’t stopped. Would I have grown as a wine drinker?

I’ve flower gardened for many years, often planting over two dozen flats of annuals every spring, much to the dismay of my wife. She often hinted that I should add more perennials to the garden so I wouldn’t have to plant so many annuals, but I didn’t listen. I loved bright colors and I wanted as much of it as I could get over the summer. Perennials only bloom for about a month each summer, so I found them boring. Of course, whenever I read plant magazines, I’d read that annuals were for amateurs—that the real beauty was in perennials, and that real gardeners eventually learned to prefer them. I scoffed at this back then, but these day I find myself appreciating perennials more, and I’ve been adding them to the garden every year. My tastes have changed over time.

What does any of this have to do with writing?

Because they remind me of my writing journey. When I first began writing almost a decade ago, I knew what I liked and what I didn’t. I didn’t mind adverbs, or telling (vs showing), and generally felt that characters were something you randomly tossed into plot driven stories. But over the years I’ve grown as a writer, and the advice I scoffed at back them makes a lot more sense to me now. Who would have guessed?

This transition didn’t happen overnight—learning to do something well takes time—but I can look back now and appreciate the journey. And who knows what the future may bring? Perhaps I’ll even enjoy a red wine somewhere down the road, the day after I publish my first book.

Question: other than writing, what hobbies, interests, etc. have you changed your opinion on?


Friday, June 24, 2016

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 130

Oops, another Wednesday without a post. You can blame me for that one. I was blasting through WIP revisions based on my crit partners' comments and didn't feel like stopping to write a blog post. The fact that I didn't have a clue what to post about might also have played a small part in the decision. So to make up for my lapse, I'm including a chemistry video that explains why you don't pour water on magnesium.

As usual enjoy the links and the weekend.


The Links

What’s the Best Print on Demand Service for Self-published Paperbacks?

When Less Is More on Social Media

10 Writing Pitfalls from the Mentors of the 1st 5 Pages Workshop

It's first day of summer! So here's JAWS…
Alexandra Sokoloff's synopsis of Jaws, showing how the PLANS of the protagonist and antagonists change throughout the movie, including the importance of their timing. One of her comments made me realize something was missing in my story. Booyah!

5 Overlooked Pixar Storytelling Tips

Is KDP Select Right for You?

Checklist for redesigning your book cover – and maximising the marketing opportunities

Friday, June 17, 2016

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 129

It's been a busy week. I submitted another chapter to my critique group, gave a presentation at work, and my son graduated from middle school. Thank goodness that's all finished! Let the summer begin. 

Of course, all these activities meant I didn't get around to posting this week's links until Friday afternoon, but such is life. You'll notice that a couple of the links have to do with setting descriptions, a topic I've been poking at for the last couple of weeks. Karma, perhaps?

Either way, be sure to check out my Wednesday post where I discuss the release of Angela Ackerman's and Becca Puglisi's new books, The Urban Settings Thesaurus and The Rural Settings Thesaurus. And don't forget to enter their contest.

Anyway, I've off to enjoy a well deserved weekend. Have a great weekend and enjoy the links!


How to Finish Your Book in Three Drafts
In my case, it's more like 300.

5 Tips for Empowering Description with Contrast

How To Deliver Critical Backstory Using The Setting

Laying Track: Tracking Ebook Links on Google Analytics

Double Jeopardy: Hooking the Reader's Brains and Heart

Grab Readers With a Multi-Faceted Characteristic Moment

Can YOU Create the Perfect Ebook Cover?

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Rock The Vault: Celebrating The Release Of The Urban And Rural Setting Thesaurus

Setting descriptions are a personal bane of mine. It doesn’t occur to me to add them while I’m hammering away at the plot, so I rarely bother with them in my first drafts, or my second… or my hundredth. I usually only add them after my critique partners complain.

I suspect part of my problem has to do with an inability to think up descriptions that don’t seem boring and cliché, so I’m always on the lookout for any resource that might help bolster this aspect of my writing. And one such resource has just arrived on Amazon. Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi, the authors of the ever popular Emotional Thesaurus, have pooled their talents to bring us The Rural Setting Thesaurus and the Urban Setting Thesaurus. These books are a compilation of the various sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and sensations one might expect to find in a wide variety of settings, including graveyards, ancient ruins, farmhouses, schools, caves, and best of all, school science labs! Examples designed to jog your creative juices so that you can generate vivid descriptions for your own scenes.

I especially enjoyed the first part of the book, where the authors explain the technique of using setting descriptions, not only to ground the reader in the surroundings, but also how they can be used to set the mood, or foreshadow future events, or to generate conflict, concepts that never would have occurred to me on their own.

In summary, I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in boosting their descriptive chops, so check out the blurb below.  And don't forget to enter the ROCK THE VAULT event.


There's nothing better than becoming lost within the story world within minutes of starting a book. And as writers, this is what we're striving to do: pull the reader in, pull them down deep into the words, make them feel like they are experiencing the story right alongside the hero or heroine.

A big part of achieving this is showing the character's surroundings in a way that is textured and rich, delivering this description through a filter of emotion and mood. It means we have to be careful with each word we choose, and describe the setting in such a way that each sight, sound, taste, texture, and smell comes alive for readers. This is no easy task, especially since it is so easy to overdo it—killing the pace, slowing the action, and worst of all, boring the reader. So how can we create a true unique experience for readers and make them feel part of the action while avoiding descriptive missteps that will hurt the story?

Well, there's some good news on this front. Two new books have released this week that may change the description game for writers. The Urban Setting Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to City Spaces and The Rural Setting Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Personal and Natural Spaces look at the sights, smells, tastes, textures, and sounds that a character might experience within 225 different contemporary settings. And this is only the start of what these books offer writers. In fact, swing by and check out this hidden entry from the Urban Setting Thesaurus: Antiques Shop.

And there's one more thing you might want to know more about....

Rock_The_Vault_WHW1Becca and Angela, authors of The Emotion Thesaurus, are celebrating their double release with a fun event going on from June 13-20th called ROCK THE VAULT. At the heart of Writers Helping Writers is a tremendous vault, and these two ladies have been hoarding prizes of epic writerly proportions.

A safe full of prizes, ripe for the taking...if the writing community can work together to unlock it, of course.

Ready to do your part? Stop by Writers Helping Writers to find out more!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 128

After last Friday's post, many of you have been asking which side won--the writing side  or the gardening side.  To be honest, I'm not sure either side won, but it's possible one of them might have lost less.  

Here's the deal.  I stayed up late on Friday night working on the manuscript, (yay!) then got up early the next morning to begin planting flowers. (double yay!)  So far, so good.  Then family obligations took over and neither side had a chance to score until after dinner.  Unfortunately, that was pretty much the end of the competition as it was now raining too hard to plant and my slightly scratchy throat had turned into a full fledged cold. I spent the rest of the weekend either asleep in bed or staring out the window at the rain.

Since I managed to write enough to submit a small scene to my crit group, I guess I'd have to give the nod to the writing side, but there's nothing worse than a wasted weekend!

I hope this weekend works out better for you.
Enjoy the links.


P.S.  If you didn't see Chrys Fey's post on Wednesday, be sure to check it out.

10 Tips for Making Tumblr Work for Writers

Marketing Strategy: Enlist a Pre-Release Team

Are Libraries the New Bookstores?

In the Flesh: Fleshing Out Flat Characters

Please Don't Write this Sentence in Your Opening

How Writers Can Bring Setting to Life through Personification

How to Choose a Domain Name for Your Author Website

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Chrys Fey, Seismic Crimes, and Descriptions

Today I'm honored to have Chrys Fey stopping by to say a few words.  One topic I've been harping on as of late is descriptions.  It's easy to recognize good descriptions when you see them in someone else's book, but not so easy when you have to add them to your own story.  Since Chrys' latest book, Seismic Crimes, takes place all over the United States, she's kindly provided us with examples of how she grounds her reader in each of her settings.    Take it away, Chrys. 

Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

While reading Seismic Crimes you’ll cross the United States…twice. You’ll be in Florida, Michigan, and California. Won’t you go on a trip with me (and my characters)?


Donovan drove down the interstate in his truck. One month after Hurricane Sabrina wailed on Florida with her giant fists of wind, the Sunshine State was close to being back to normal. When the deep floods of her vengeful tears reduced to puddles, Floridians began cleaning the debris she’d left behind as a parting gift. Filth covered the streets, city workers had to dissect fallen trees, and the governor brought in sand by the truckload to repair the deteriorating coastline.


The Christmas tree lot went on for blocks. Cars were parked bumper to bumper and lined both sides of the road. Families and couples milled about, searching for the perfect tree to put up in their homes. Beth and Donovan were among them. The mingling scents of Blue Spruce, Douglas Fir, and all the other Christmas tree variations swirled luxuriously in Beth’s nostrils, bringing an instantaneous smile to her face. Her boots crunched in the snow, and her breath came out in puffs like car exhaust as she trudged down each row.


They found seats and BART shot forward. They got off at Union Square, the heart of San Francisco. Walking along the two-and-a-half-acre square, they saw all the popular department stores and posh hotels. Even though it was January, people sat in the streaming sunlight, bundled in jackets, and children chased flocks of pigeons and squealed in delight when the birds launched into the air, their wings creating a loud ruckus like feathered helicopter blades.

China Town:

The smell of musky incense, cigarette smoke, fish, vanilla and Asian spices scented the air. They passed noodle shops and teahouses, bakeries and open-air markets. She enjoyed browsing among the colored vendors packed with jade jewelry, trinkets and clothing. Being around all that culture made her feel rich. 


Thanks, Chrys.  Those descriptions make me feel as if I'm right there.  If you all agree, then be sure to check out her books.

By the way, don't forget to check out the Rafflecopter giveaway at the end of the post.

Title: Seismic Crimes
Author: Chrys Fey
Series: Disaster Crimes Series (Book Two)
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Format: Digital and Print
Page Count: 282




An Internal Affairs Investigator was murdered and his brother, Donovan Goldwyn, was framed. Now Donovan is desperate to prove his innocence. And the one person who can do that is the woman who saved him from a deadly hurricane—Beth Kennedy. From the moment their fates intertwined, passion consumed him. He wants her in his arms. More, he wants her by his side in his darkest moments.

Beth Kennedy may not know everything about Donovan, but she can’t deny what she feels for him. It’s her love for him that pushes her to do whatever she has to do to help him get justice, including putting herself in a criminal’s crosshairs.

When a tip reveals the killer's location, they travel to California, but then an earthquake of catastrophic proportions separates them. As aftershocks roll the land, Beth and Donovan have to endure dangerous conditions while trying to find their way back to one another. Will they reunite and find the killer, or will they lose everything?


Amazon CA / NOOK / KOBO 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, June 3, 2016

Seven Writing Links -- Volume 127

First of all, I'd like to thank everyone who stopped by here on Wednesday.  It was nice to meet all the new people.  Secondly, I'd like to thank Alex for letting me co-host the IWSG.  For those of you that haven't had the privilege of doing so yet, drop Alex a line and let him know you'd be interested in doing so.  He's always looking for co-hosts.

This weekend is going to be a contest of wills between the gardening side of me and the writer side.  I have a crit group meeting coming up next week, so I have to finish my latest chapter.  But I also have quite a few flats of flowers that are demanding they be planted in real dirt before the weekend is over. We'll see which side wins.

Have a great weekend and enjoy the links!


How To Create Memorable Characters: 8 Little-Known Sleights of Hand

Everyone’s Getting Into Video. Should You?

8 Ebook Discovery Services Compared

Don’t Hate the Query Letter: Master It

Write What They Don’t Know: Manipulating Your Reader for Better Plots

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

A Look at the Second Pinch Point in Stories

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Insecure Writer and Jealousy

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

Today, I'm co-hosting the IWSG, along with Murees Dupe, Alexia Chamberlynn, and Heather Garner!  Be sure to stop by their blogs too.   

Why am I an Insecure Writer this month? 


First of all, let me preface this post by saying I love you guys. You’ve been incredibly supportive during the past six years of my writing journey, and I’ve learned so much from each of you. A few of you have even been critique partners. So I just want to say, thank you.

Deep down, however, I‘m jealous of you all. (There, I said it out loud)

Every Friday I post the seven best writing links I find during the week. Although some of them explain how to become a better writer, many of them describe how to better market your book. How to grow email lists, how to design a better covers, the proper way to hold a Facebook party for book launches, etc. All useful information—assuming you’ve gotten around to finishing your book, that is. And I haven’t hit that milestone yet.  And there's the problem.

I’m a member of For Love Or Money, a Facebook group run by Susan Kaye Quinn, an indie author who’s great at sharing everything she’s learned on the subject of publishing. (If you’re into indie publishing, I highly recommend joining.) In fact, there’s so much good information over there it sometimes bothers me that I can’t take advantage of most of it. I feel like an outsider peeking in through the window.

Up till now, I’ve been content with simply enjoying the journey to publication, but that contentment is wearing a bit thin these days. I’m tired of hearing about everyone else’s Facebook parties. I’m tired of hearing about cover reveals. Heck, I'm tired of seeing blog tours everywhere I go. You industrious writers are driving me crazy.

I know I’ll eventually finish my book, but man, the wait is killing me.


Oh, by the way.  Be sure to stop by here next Wednesday when I'll be honored to be one of the stops for Chrys Fey's Seismic Crimes blog tour.  Hey, just because I'm jealous doesn't mean I can't help out a fellow writer.  If I could write like she does, I'm sure I'd already have finished my book by now.

Just sayin...