Wednesday, October 4, 2017

What's personal about my characters #ISWG

The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Purpose: Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Click here to join the group.

I finished my MG fantasy. (Yay!) Queries have been sent. (Fingers are crossed.) And it’s autumn, my favorite time of year. So while I enjoy the leaves changing colors, pumpkin pie, scarecrow festivals, scary movies, not so scary classics, and everything else that comes with this time of year, I’m contemplating what to work on next. Do I revisit one of my unfinished WIP or do I start something new? I wish I knew if my MG fantasy is going to be picked up by a wonderful editor who is as excited about the project as I am because I’d love to turn it into a series. Anyone have a crystal ball?

October’s question - Have you ever slipped any of your personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose?

At first, I was going to say no. But Madison Riley from Embrace has long curly brown hair and I have always pictured her hair to be a lot like mine. But that’s where our likenesses end. And she’s so much braver than me—no way would I visit a graveyard at night. Then there’s Logan Ragsdale, from Challenging Destiny. Many of his personality traits are a combination of my hubby’s and one of my sons. I won’t say which. :) 

In other news: Jessica Therrien is celebrating the release of her newest novel, CARRY ME HOME, by hosting a huge giveaway. Click here to learn more about her book and to enter the giveaway. 

Need help bringing a scene to life? Check out my post, FILMING A SCENE WITH WORDS, and be sure to leave your tips in the comments. 

Have you ever slipped personal information into your characters? What do you like about autumn? Did you enter the giveaway? 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Huge Back to School Book Giveaway!

Carry Me Home Release Day Party!

To celebrate the release of her latest novel, Carry Me Home, author Jessica Therrien is hosting a HUUUGE BACK TO SCHOOL BOOK GIVEAWAY! The giveaway includes nearly 50 books, all from different authors. Keep scrolling for prize info and how to enter the giveaway.


PRIZE #1 (5 winners)
WINNERS of this prize will take home one of FIVE 10 Book Bundles.
*Each 10 book bundle is guaranteed to have at least 1 paperback book.

A signed hardcover of
by Jessica Therrien

A signed hardcover of
OPPRESSION (Children of the Gods #1)
by Jessica Therrien


*AKA...the hugest RaffleCopter EVER*
Support an author by subscribing to their newsletter, liking them on Facebook or following their Twitter account. You can literally follow each author and EARN UP TO 45 CHANCES TO WIN!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, August 18, 2017

Filming a Scene with Words

In movies and television, music and camera angle are two of the tools used to help set the tone of a scene. The brave main character exits a restaurant at night: cue ominous song. The sexy male character is about to surprise the girl he secretly loves with flowers: show close-up of protagonist buying a large bouquet of orchids and strike up the romantic melody. Writer’s can’t zoom in on a character or prop and we can’t add music to notify readers that something is about to happen. We have to rely on our words to set the scene.

When I’m writing, I like to imagine that I am the protagonist. I picture the scene as if I’m living it. By walking in my protagonist’s shoes, I’m able to see and feel what she does. And it all goes into the scene—that nervous tick, the elated butterflies in her stomach, the sweltering heat, the shadow moving in her peripheral vision, and so on. This helps me to bring the scene alive.

Take that scene where the beloved protagonist exits a restaurant with her friends. The words we choose set the scene for what’s to come:

     The night was cool and the sky clear, but the air felt wrong somehow. Thick. It crawled over my skin, leaving goose bumps in its wake.  
. . .
     Kaylee’s fingers tightened around my arm like a vise as she took a step closer to me. Her eyes were wide and focused on the far end of the parking lot.
(Embrace by Cherie Colyer)

In just a few sentences the reader is alerted that trouble is coming. Showing a character’s actions and facial expression, in essence, zoomed in on that character, adding suspense and a sense of mystery.

Another way to set the scene is by using a combination of words that elicit pleasant thoughts as well as the feeling of dread:

     A faint crackle like the crunch of dried leaves under dainty feet seemed to enter the kitchen through the open window. A weak pop-pop-swish slithered by me thereafter, and the sweet aroma of honeydew filled my nostrils. I spun around, expecting to see a bright-eyed faerie with sparkling cheeks and pointy little ears near the stove, but I was alone.
(Hold Tight by Cherie Colyer)

Or maybe you want the scene to be light and playful:

     We were a jumbled mass of arms and legs. His belt buckle rubbed the bare skin of my stomach, and his neck was in perfect kissing distance. My gaze traveled to his lips. His close proximity had me forgetting I was winning the game of keep-away until he snatched the case from me.
(Embrace by Cherie Colyer)

Now it’s your turn. Below are ten tips to help you set the scene:

  • Use action instead of telling where your characters are.
  • Plant images that convey tone.
  • Show us what time of day it is.
  • Help the reader see the immediate surroundings.
  • Show your characters’ body language.
  • Show your characters’ facial expressions.
  • Show what your characters are doing physically.
  • Incorporate different senses (sight, touch, smell).
  • Show your characters’ mood (angry, happy, scared, etc.).
  • Let the reader know what your characters want.

You don’t have to include all of these in every scene, but by using different combinations you will paint a picture with words that is as vivid and detailed as the movies and television.

Thanks for stopping by. Please feel free to share your tips in the comments. 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Pet Peeves... what's yours?


This month's question is a three part question. I hope you'll chime in in the comments.

What are your pet peeves...

... when reading?  I'm not a fan of long exposition or back story. Most of the time it slows the pace and pulls me right out of the story. If it goes on too long, I'll lose interest and the book goes in my DNF pile. And yes, I hate when people dog-ear pages in books.

... when writing?  Hands down when I'm in a good flow and have to stop. This happens to me a lot during the week, because I like to write in the morning before work so I have a hard stop. The only thing worse is having all day to write and barely adding a hundred words to my word count.

... when editing? Working diligently to fix a sentence, paragraph or page only to realize I just spent an hour or longer revising and the scene works better with that sentence, paragraph or page deleted.

How about you? What are your pet peeves?

This has been an Insecure Writer's Support Group post. It's where writers share their thoughts, insecurities, and encouraging words. Thanks to Alex Cavanaugh and our co-hosts for keeping IWSG going. If you would like to know more about the group, just follow the link.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

It's a writer's life for me #IWSG

Hi, everyone.

It's time to share our thoughts, insecurities, and encouraging words. Thanks to Alex Cavanaugh and JH MoncrieffMadeline Mora-SummonteJen ChandlerMegan MorganHeather GardnNot a member? Want to know more about the group? Click here

The re-write of my upper middle-grade fantasy is done! A friend beta read the first 25-pages and I was super excited to get her feedback. I've already tweaked the pages. There wasn't much, which is great news. I may read the story one more time looking for sentences I can tighten up. Then I'm thinking of having this one go through a round of developmental edits. Or maybe DE-light. Is there such a thing? I recently signed up for Reedsy so I'll find out.

No matter if you write a story for yourself, your kids, to self-publish, or to publish traditionally, this quote is true. The only way you fail is if you stop writing. Over the years, I've heard agents, editors and authors say it takes a combination of skill, persistence, and luck to be successful as a writer and not always in that order. I think of this when writer's block hits or when an editor passes on one of my projects. This brings me to this month's questions.

Question of the month:
Did you ever say “I quit”? If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?

My answer: No I haven't. Writing a novel is hard work, but it is also thrilling and rewarding. I love the challenge of creating new characters, getting to know them, and becoming lost in their worlds. 

How about you? Have you quit? What made you come back?

Friday, May 5, 2017

It's here! Air and Ash by Alex Lidell

It's here! Alex Lidell's newest novel, AIR and ASH. And to celebrate Alex is running a release celebration BOGO, where you can get a free copy of Megan Crewe's A MORTAL SONG with proof of purchase of Air and Ash. Details here:  

Born to privilege. Trained for command. Destined for danger.

Air and Ash by Alex Lindell
Release date: May 2, 2017
Danger Bearing Press

After a lifetime of training, seventeen-year-old Princess Nile Greysik, a lieutenant on the prestigious Ashing navy flagship, sails into battle with one vital mission—and fails.

Barred from the sea and facing a political marriage, Nile masquerades as a common sailor on the first ship she can find. With a cowardly captain, incompetent crew, and a cruel, too-handsome first officer intent on making her life a living hell, Nile must hide her identity while trying to turn the sorry frigate battle worthy. Worse, a terrifying and forbidden magic now tingles in Nile’s blood. If anyone catches wind of who Nile is or what she can do, her life is over.

But when disaster threatens the ship, Nile may have no choice but to unleash the truth that will curse her future.

AIR AND ASH is the thrilling first installment of the TIDES series. Recommended for fans of Sarah J. Maas, Tamora Pierce, and Naomi Novik.

Read Air and Ash today:  Amazon 


Master and Commander meets Sarh J. Mass in a seafaring adventure of duty, love,  magic, and a princess's quest to protect her kingdom on her own terms.


TIDES currently has two full-length novels - AIR AND ASH and WAR AND WIND - as well as a prequel novella, FIRST COMMAND. A free copy of FIRST COMMAND is available here.

Author Bio

Alex Lidell is an avid horseback rider, a (bad) hockey player, and an ice-cream addict. Born in Russia, Alex learned English in elementary school, where a thoughtful librarian placed a copy of Tamora Pierce’s ALANNA in Alex’s hands. In addition to becoming the first English book Alex read for fun, ALANNA started Alex’s life long love for YA fantasy books. Alex’s debut novel, THE CADET OF TILDOR (Penguin, 2013), was an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards finalist. Alex is represented by Leigh Feldman of Leigh Feldman Literary. She lives in Washington, DC.

Alex loves getting emails!  Please send her a note at or sign up for her newsletter

Keep in touch with Alex

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Inspiration strikes... sort of #IWSG

Hi, everyone.

It's time to share our thoughts, insecurities, and encouraging words. Thanks to Alex Cavanaugh and our co-hosts Christopher D. Votey, Madeline Mora-Summonte, Fundy Blue, Chrys Fey for keeping IWSG going. Not a member? Want to know more about the group? Click here

I never know when inspiration will strike. Although, it would be wonderful if I could turn it on and off at will. Anyway, I was reading blog posts on plot recently when the pieces to an idea I had years ago started to flush themselves out to become a decent plot that just might work.  I'm still polishing my MG fantasy, so I have plenty of time to mull over this new story. I'll let you know if something comes of it.

April IWSG Day Question: Have you taken advantage of the annual A to Z Challenge in terms of marketing, networking, publicity for your book? What were the results?

My answer: I haven't participated in the A to Z Challenge, but I'm looking forward to reading the responses of those who have.

In other news:
There's still time to get Challenging Destiny for only .99 cents. If you've already downloaded your copy, thank you for your support!

Being Chosen is a terrible thing when there is no one you can trust. 

Logan Ragsdale and his younger sister, Ariana, have been marked, chosen to be unwilling participants in a war between angels and demons. Together, they must derail the biblical event if they hope to save themselves and the future of mankind.

Buy on Amazon         Amazon UK          Barnes&Noble

Can you turn inspiration on and off at will? Do your ideas percolate a while before you start to write? Are you participating in the A to Z Challenge?

Friday, March 24, 2017

Read Challenging Destiny for .99 cents! #amreading #yalit

Hi, everyone!

The Wild Rose Press has put my speculative fiction, Challenging Destiny, on sale for .99 cent. But hurry, the sale ends soon.

Being Chosen is a terrible thing when there is no one you can trust. 

Logan Ragsdale and his younger sister, Ariana, have been marked, chosen to be unwilling participants in a war between angels and demons. Together, they must derail the biblical event if they hope to save themselves and the future of mankind.

Buy on Amazon         Amazon UK          Barnes&Noble


4.6 out of 5 stars on Amazon!

Here’s what readers have to say about Challenging Destiny:

“This YA paranormal has fantastic world building.”

“I just loved the heck out of this book. In fact, I stayed up all night reading this, cause I couldn’t put it down.”

The mythology that is developing here is nothing short of amazing."

"What an intriguing and fascinating read!!"


Don't miss my paranormal thriller/romance Series:

Friday, March 10, 2017

Ten ways to add mystery and suspense in your writing

Image source

There are several tools writers use to create the suspense that pulls a reader into a story and makes them want to follow our protagonist on his or her journey. Today, I thought I'd share ten techniques sure to help you add intrigue and mystery to your writing.

1. Get your characters in trouble! Be ruthless. Think of the worst thing that could happen to them and let them figure out a solution.

2. Let your character take the easy way out of a situation only to find that he's made matters worse, or that he just survived the calm before the storm.

3. Do a slow reveal or include a familiar item that keeps showing up.

4. Allow the reader to know something the main character doesn't.  If the reader knows that there is a lion behind the door our beloved main character so desperately wants to open the reader will be holding his or her breath each time that character gets close to the door.

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5. Create a deadline: countdown to D-day.

6. Build anxiety by using short clipped sentences. Introduce doubt or have a plan fall through.

7. Let your character get close to what she's been hoping for—maybe the first kiss with the totally hot guy—and then the moment slips away or all hell breaks loose.

8. Add intriguing chapter titles.

9. End each chapter in a way that keeps the reader from inserting a bookmark.
10. Cut the action early, forcing the reader to worry about what's going to happen next.

The next time you're writing, give one or more of these techniques a try!

Share your tips in the comments. :)

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Take 2: Reworking an Old Story #IWSG

Hi, everyone.

It's time to share our thoughts, insecurities, and encouraging words. Thanks to Alex Cavanaugh and our co-hosts Tamara NarayanPatsy Collins,  M.J. Fifield,  Nicohle Christopherson for keeping IWSG going. Not a member? Want to know more about the group? Click here

March IWSG Day Question: 
Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

Yes! I'm working on it now. So far, I think it's working.  :)

Today I thought I'd share some encouraging words from professionals in the business that I picked up from writing conferences I've attended. 

“What would ten-year-old Tony want that old Tony can now make?” –Tony Diterlizzi

“A book becomes timeless when a story captures a moment of intimacy between author and reader.” – Arthur Levine

“There are no shortcuts. Slow down. Focus on what you can control.” – Steven Malk

How are you doing? Any insecurities? Have you reworked an old story? Any encouraging words to share?