Saturday, December 31, 2011

Tips for writers

Some tips for success as a writer

·        Distractions are all around you.  Eliminate as many as you can while you are writing.
·        Don’t focus on money or “making it big.”  Set your sights on entertaining your audience and success will come. 
·        Take a mental break between novels.  Too much too quickly can stunt your muse.
·        Don’t give in to doubt.  It will only hold you back from your true potential.  Kick doubt to the curb.
·        Put your mental editor on stand by until you finish your rough draft.  Typos are one thing but complete rewrites are a whole other ball game.  Don’t allow editing to sidetrack your writing efforts.
·        You’re personal observations of your work are more than likely muddy.  Let your readers show if you’re doing a good job or not through their reviews.
·        If you are seeking to follow the route to find an agent, publisher or enter a contest, you need to make your novel shine.  Good isn’t enough.  You need to be a diamond among the ashes. 
·        Good stories are read by friends, family and a small smattering of people.  But exceptional stories are read by the multitude.  Write the best quality novel you can.  Publishing for the sake of publishing is worthless for you and your readers.  Don’t tarnish your name just to publish quickly.
·        Only write what pushes your plot forward.  Cut out the excess, tighten your writing, and make every word count. 
·        Don’t give everything away in the beginning.  Ask questions and let your readers guess the answers.  Tell only what is necessary to keep a reader dangling on the end of your rope.
·        Create a killer first line.  Drag a reader into your book and don’t let them go. 
·        Chapter 1 needs to be full of action. Get their pulses racing and don’t let up. 
·        Share what you have learned with others.  There are countless writers like you who are on the same journey.  Give what you know and help when you can.
·        And most of all…stick to what you love.  I’ve heard it said that you should write what you know.  I say write what you love.  If you are passionate about your novel then your readers are more inclined to be too. 

Creating conflict

When you’re browsing the shelves of your local book store or library, what triggers your mind to pick one book from the slew of those on offer?  What single thing draws you in and piques your interest?  One word.  Conflict.

Without the struggles, the fears, doubts and trials that the characters must face, there really isn’t any point in reading.  Conflict is what drives the book forward, giving you that glimpse of hope that there will be a light at the end of sometimes a lengthy tunnel.  It’s human nature to root on the underdog.  It’s as old as time, but never ceases to sell.

Conflict is the element needed to create successful novels.  The idea of “what’s gonna happen next” keeps you turning the page, devouring thousands of words until the very end.  A truly good book will have multiple conflicts, each one building the tension until you want to explode if you don’t discover the answers. 

You need opposition.  Man vs man, animals, environment or even a battle within your character’s mind.  Up the stakes with each page.  Make them beg for more.

Resolution?  Oh yeah, you gotta have a good one.  Make it believable but if you’re writing multiple books don’t give it all away in the first book.  Set a goal for the character and reach it.  Who wins the battle, catches the bad guy or scores the final touchdown?  But with sequels, trilogys and series you want to keep some questions alive.

With each chapter that you write add more pressure.  Make it pleasantly unbearable for your reader.  Have them salivating! Throw in teaser chapters from your sequel if you really want to pump up the anticipation.

Another thing that you need to consider, because it’s probably going to happen whether you plan it or not, is what theme you are presenting.  Do you have a set or religious beliefs, morals or strong opinions that will come through in your book? 

If you want a theme, you need to be conscious of it as you weave your novel.  If it’s unintentional…well let’s just hope it turned out the way you wanted!

So if you’re working on a novel in the hopes of publishing take a look at what you’ve written and make sure you’ve added enough conflict to keep the book flowing.  Avoid dead spots.  Writers dread them and readers hate them.

In an upcoming blog I will go into details of how to create tension.    

Friday, December 30, 2011

Memorable or Forgettable?

As a writer one of the most enjoyable aspects of creating a new novel is giving birth to new characters.  Who are they?  What drives them?  What little oddities will make them endearing?

I’m an avid reader and that’s probably why I love writing so much.  I grew up as an only child and spent countless hours pouring my heart and soul into books.  I wanted to escape, to become someone that I could never dream to become in real life.  But in order for me to desire that I needed a character that I could relate to.

There are several key “ingredients” that are required to make a solid character. 

1. They need to be unique.  If I open a book and read a card board cut out I immediately put it down.  I want a protagonist that isn’t always a blonde hair, blue eyed bombshell.  Give me stubby toes, chipped fingernails, frizzy hair and thick rimmed glasses that sit askew on the bridge of an oily nose.  Think unique gender, body shape, eye color, hair color and length, ethnicity, clothing style, profession and age.

2. There must be specific goals.  Why does she/he get out of bed every morning?  What are they afraid of?  What little neurotic voices hinder their lives?  Who do they want to be when they grow up (physically and mentally)?

3. I want quirks.  Give me a nail biter, a knuckle popper, an obsessive compulsive, or a chocoholic.  Make them unique.  Demand that they stand out among the crowd.

4. Flaws.  Oh yeah, I want them to be flawed.  Now let me state first that I’m not evil in my love of flaws.  I want my characters to be happy…someday.  But honestly, what’s entertaining about someone who sees all sunshine and roses throughout the entire book?  BORING!  I want issues with the image in the mirror, sneaking a cig in the bathroom on school grounds, trouble with self esteem, an illness.  Something to make them human and not superman. 

5. Co-characters.  Ok, this is a biggie for me.  Since I write teen fantasy, I need characters that grab your attention but don’t steal the thunder.  I need interesting, but not overbearing.  Cute but not gorgeous.  Loveable but not smitten.  You get my drift. 

6. Most importantly.  You need an enemy.  Someone who can stand toe to toe with your hero and not back down.  The epic battle, no matter how small and insignificant you might consider it to be, needs to be set in stone.  No weak enemies please!  They need to be just as well thought out as the protagonist.  And I want to know WHY they do what they do?  Give me back story but don’t flood me with useless details.      

So, with that being said, I want to give you a simple example of my process.  I will use the main character from my new teen fantasy trilogy, Forbidden.

Name: Roseline Enescue
Ethnicity: Romanian, non human, Immortal
Height: 5’6”
Hair: bronze, curls around her waist
Eye color: aqua, glows from within at times
Age: Appears to be a senior in high school, actually 322 years old
Skin tone: Pale, hauntingly beautiful
Body type: slender, curvy
Relationship status: Married to Vladimir Enescue (Dracula), dating Gabriel Marston (highschool football star/closet artist)
Personality: cautious but fiercely loyal

Goals: wants to live the life that was taken from her, hide who she is to fit in with humans so she can experience what being a teen is really like.  To be free of the vampire stigma and her husband’s abusive hand. 

Fears: being found by her husband, her identity discovered, endangering her new friend’s lives, losing Gabriel

Flaws: rebellious, sheltered, feels unworthy of human love, fears unleashing her bitterness towards her husband

Quirks: able to physically regenerate would wounded with the aid of human blood, is immortal, secretes a hormone that drives male’s wild, increased speed, strength, scent, superior reflexes and vision.

Support: Sadie (spunky best friend who adamantly fights for her right to wear whatever she likes by shifting through several wardrobe fascinations).  William (Sadie’s surfer styled brother who follows Roseline around like a love sick puppy), Gabriel (football star whose hidden desires are best portrayed by his secret art gallery in his attic). Fane (handsome Immortal friend who taught Roseline everything she knows, kept her sane over the passing years and instigated a spicy fling once or twice). Nicolae (broody Romanian foreign exchange student who watches Roseline’s every move with hawk like vision, fiercely protective over Sadie, and is hiding a big secret).

Enemy: Husband Vladimir Enescue who slaughtered her entire family on their wedding night.  Sacrificed Roseline’s younger sister in front of her eyes and used her blood to transform Roseline into an Immortal.  And Lucien Enescue, Vladimir’s brother whose love of sadistic mass murders and debauchery are rivaled by none.

Conflict: Roseline has lived her entire life under the false myth that she and her family are vampires.  After centuries of trying to bring out the monster in Roseline, her husband Vladimir finally turns his attentions to a new mistress which gives Roseline the chance to escape.
Upon fleeing to America, Roseline inserts herself into a Chicago prep school with the hopes of blending in.  But after a series of events, Roseline finds herself stuck in the spotlight.  Friendships are formed, a forbidden romance ensues, and Roseline is forced to make the hardest decision of her life.  Stay in her new life and risk the death of her friends, or return to the man she fears most of all to save those she loves.
Forbidden is filled with ups and downs, tension and release.  A page turner until the very end.  But the conflict doesn’t end there.  It’s only the beginning.

 This is a basic idea of how to create a character.  Think outside the box.  Don’t try to repeat anything you’ve read or watched in a movie.  Let your imagination go and have fun.  I’d love to hear what you come up with!

My non-resolutions

Every year millions of people join together to party, kiss at the stroke of midnight and inevitably make New Years resolutions that will more than likely be broken within the first week or so.  Using that new treadmill as a coat hanger?  Classic. Did that enormous piece of gooey chocolate cake hogtie you and force itself down your throat?  Bye-bye diet.

Why do we do such things year in and year out?  I’m sure in some way that could be used as a sign of insanity.  So what about this year?  Will you endeavor to make yet another resolution?

Several years ago I made the decision not to make personal resolutions…at any time of the year.  New Year’s Eve scrooge is what I am.  But I had to have some reason to get out of bed each day, right?

So I decided to make a list.  If you don’t already know me, this is not something abnormal.  I am a list gal.  Too scatterbrained to live without it!

On my list I write my goals for each year.  *BE REALISTIC*  If you don’t have time to spend 4 hours in the gym every day and enjoy eating less than a sparrow, then don’t tell yourself that you want to lose 150lbs in 2012.  That’s just asking for trouble!

I like to write personal goals, of which usually have to do with being more organized so my family life can run smoother.  Hit the gym a bit more, although the Zumba DVD’s that I got for Christmas are really begging to be opened.  And of course learn something new.  Knitting, baking, gardening, engine overhaul (yeah right!) or taking up a new sport.  Whatever my goal might be, I plan my success.

The same thing goes with my writing.  Although I am terrible about planning my books (goal #1) I am fantastic about planning what I want to accomplish.  Last year, in August, was my first real step into self publishing.  And oh my goodness did I have a lot to learn!  I’m still learning.  It’s a process.

I managed to publish book 1 of the Rising trilogy, and followed up with book 1 of the Arotas trilogy.  Throw in a short Christmas story in December and I’m feeling pretty awesome from my efforts.

Some might look at that and say “wow, that’s amazing.  You can sit back and wait for the money to roll in.”  Hardly!  I didn’t dream of writing ONE book or even three.  This is something I want for the rest of my life.  So if you love my books, get ready for a busy 2012.  If you don’t…yeah I can’t really help you with that one!

My goals for 2012:  (widely pliant due to a finicky muse)

·        Roseline’s Novella- her life between becoming an Immortal and her escape from Romania.
·        Arotas- sequel to Forbidden (rough draft is nearing completion)
·        Collide- new teen thriller (in re-write stage)
·        Relinquish- sequel to Defiance Rising (dependent on my sister-in-laws schedule once she had two little ones running around her house)
·        New book idea- had a dream which turned into a homework assignment for my writers group and it has massive potential.  (brainstorming and loving it!)
·        And of course write the third installment for the Arotas Trilogy.  Don’t ask me anything about it.  I don’t know yet!

So these are some huge goals but I know I’m capable of it.  6 books in 12 months?  Is that doable?  Certainly.  The best part is most of them are all in various stages of being written so I’m already ahead of the game.  And of course I will be entering Forbidden in this years Amazon competition.  Super excited to see how it does.

What are your goals for reaching your dreams in 2012? 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Crossed by Ally Condie

Crossed: Book 2 of the Matched Trilogy

I was shocked when I was browsing the new teen release section of my library a couple days ago when I found Crossed sitting nonchalantly on the shelf.  No way!  I’ve had this book on order for almost a month and now it’s just sitting there?  So not fair.

But was I going to walk out of there without it tucked under me arm. Heck no! 

Total reading time…somewhere around two days, with a whole lot of housework, cooking baking and Christmas present wrapping mingled in.  So I’d say that’s not too bad considering the time of year.

Initial thoughts:  Loved the first half and then I got bored.  I was so excited that Crossed didn’t seem to have that middle book syndrome that bores you with details and not enough action.  I was enthralled from page one.  But somewhere around the middle it just went blah for me.

I get that Ally Condie had to continue the question of who Cassia would choose, Ky or Xander.  But it seemed to me that she made Ky too despondent.  Their interaction became rather annoying to be honest.  After fighting through so much to find each other, wouldn’t you think they’d be MORE thrilled when they meet up?  I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but I felt let down.

I did enjoy some new characters that were introduced into the book.  Their unique personalities added a wealth of diversity to the story.  I also enjoyed getting to know more of what Earth might look like outside of the Society.  The “bad lands” as I would call them. 

The ending was decent but I didn’t exactly feel gripped.  When the third book comes out I will read it just so I know how the trilogy will end but I’m not gnawing off my nails waiting for it.  Pity.  I had such high hopes when the book first began. 

Overall rating: 4 stars because it was an enjoyable read.   

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Trylle Series

If you’re an Amanda Hocking fan, like me, you’re waiting anxiously for Amanda’s new Trylle trilogy to arrive in bookstores. 

After reading one of her posts on Facebook earlier today, I flipped over to her link of the newly released book trailer for Switched.  I must say that even though I’ve already read the books the trailer made it even cooler.

Can’t wait for the books to be turned into a movie.  Well done Amanda.  I’m sure you are thrilled with how well loved your books have become.  I can only dream that someday I can experience the same kind of following with my own teen books.

Now I’m trying to decide if I should dare to read Hollowmen, the sequel in Amanda’s chilling post apocalyptic zombie infested world.  I really want to…but I HATE zombies.  They really creep me out!

Blood: Book Review

By: K.J. Wignall

First off…judging by the cover of this book, which I have to admit was rather enticing, I thought this story was going to take on an enticing twist.  Sadly, no.

Blood is K.J. Wignall’s first novel for young adults.  The storyline sounded interesting, the cover was appealing and it sounded like a good book all around.  But in fact it just felt blah to me. 

The story if is of a vampire who awakes from his slumber to torture himself once more for the existence that he never chose for himself, a half-life.  Oddly his target to feed from just happens to be a man who is playing his part in Will’s destiny, drawing back from over 700 years in his past.

There were a small smattering of encounters with spirits that left me confused.  I had to re-read them a couple times to finally understand how they fit into the grand scheme.  The writing style flowed well enough but the storyline fell flat for me.

So much that last night I stopped reading with only 10 pages left in the book…and I honestly didn’t care how the book ended.  Isn’t that sad?  I basically finished the book just because I wanted to be able to give a fair review, just in case it got better.

The ending was anticlimactic bordering pathetically boring.  No flare.  No thrill.  Nothing.  I get that this book is part of a trilogy (I think) but I for one will not be reading it.

For those of you who love Vampire books…who love Vampire romances…this is not a book for you.  The small hint of romance that is given is pretty much crushed by the fact that Eloise tastes like food to Will, and causes him pain when he kisses her.  Not real romantic there!

Overall…3 stars.  And I think that’s being generous. 

If you did enjoy blood the sequel Alchemy will be released in America in Fall 2012.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Shatter Me Book Review

Shatter Me Review

I was recommended that I read Shatter Me and upon reading the book description I rushed straight to my library and put it on hold.  Then waited, rather impatiently I might add, for the book to finally arrive.  I could barely contain my excitement as I rushed home to begin devouring what I was sure would be a “life-changing” tale.


First off, let me preface this by stating that I love dystopian fantasy.  This is my kind of book.  With that being said…I was sorely disappointed with Shatter Me. 

The bits that I disliked:
·        The strike out sentences.  Really?  What was the point in that?
·        The repetitive wording.  Despite the main character’s claim to in fact, “not be insane” the repetition sure made her sound that way.
·        Sentence structure was a bit to get used to.  In places where there should have been punctuations for a pause or continuation of a sentence it was left blank.  My poor mind stuttered over numerous sentences because of that.
·        And lastly…it all felt a bit too X-men to me by the end of the book.  (I love X-Men.)

The bits I did like:
·        I did enjoy the plot line.  Huge potential.  But it certainly didn’t turn out the way I would have liked. 
·        The characters were constructed well enough to draw me in, but unfortunately they didn’t feel unforgettable.  I was really hoping for more.
·        The setting was intriguing.  No spoilers so I can’t go into further detail.

Overall I would rate Shatter Me as a three star.  By the end of the first 30 pages I was so close to giving up on the book completely.  But I stuck with it and accepted the writing style for what is way and did end up enjoying the story.  There will be a sequel at some point…just not sure if I’m going to read it.

BUT…this is simply my opinion, fellow readers and writers.  If you look on Goodreads, Shatter Me has been given a wide variety of reviews.  Read it for yourself and make your own decision.  I would love to hear what you thought.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award

The 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel awards are coming!

Starting Jan 23rd you can begin submitting your previously unpublished or self published manuscripts for either general or Young adult categories. 

If you are an aspiring author and are looking for a way to get your book noticed, paid an advance and get a publishing contract then head over to amazon to check out their submission guidelines!

I can’t wait to submit my new teen fantasy, Forbidden, into the contest! 

Goodreads...why you should sign up!

If you are a reader, and especially if you are a writer, you need to be on  It is a fantastic website that offers you the latest reviews by fans, contests to win free books and a great place to meet and greet with your favorite authors. 

I have only been a member for a short while and boy do I wish I’d stumbled across it ages ago.  As an author I have already been able to meet some of the people that have fallen in love with my books, always a pleasure!  And I get to share my thoughts on my favorite books. 

Sign up is free…and no I don’t get paid anything to recommend it!  I just love the service that Goodreads offers to readers and authors alike!

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Christmas Messenger

I have just finished putting the final touches on my new Christmas short story, The Christmas Messenger. 

Have you ever wondered what the angels were thinking during the events leading up to Jesus' birth? The Christmas Messenger is a short story that gives you a glimpse of one angel's role in bringing forth the Savior. Experience Gabriel's doubts, his confusion and his joy as he walks step by step with the people whose faith changed the world.
This short story is now available on Smashwords in all ereader formats and will be available on Amazon within 48 hours for only $0.99

If you or someone you love are looking for a new version of the traditional heartwarming Christmas story, then The Christmas Messenger might just be what you are looking for. 

This Christmas I want to share the love that I have for Jesus with as many people as I can.  If you download The Christmas Messenger and enjoy it, please tell your friends and church family's so together we can help pass on the good news of what this season is really all about.