Friday, July 13, 2018

Allergies and Author Events

Where have I been?

Writing, editing, rewriting, more editing and pondering plot fixes. I was being so productive I forgot to come up for air and post here. That's sort of a good thing,  I guess?

Then I was busy getting ready for the Muskegon edition of my Michigan Authors at the Lakeshore event in the Lakeshore Art Festival. That took up all of last weekend. That was a great time. The weather was awesome. There were crowds of people and lots of crafts, art, and books to see.

Now I'm gearing up for the Holland edition, which will be held at the Park Theatre, right across from Art in the Park, on August 4. This one is even bigger than the Muskegon event, as far as authors to organize. There will be 34 of us, a theatre full of books. It should be a lot of fun...once I get past all the organizing.

Right after that, on August 11, I'll be at the Manistee Book Expo, held in the Ramsdell Theatre.

In the midst of organizing and writing, allergy season hit hard. The weather has been hot and dry, creating all kinds of dust and whatever else sets off the explosions in my head. Between blowing my nose, sleeping the yuck away, and the way groovy spacy feeling of allergy pills, my productivity is down to a dismal percentage.

So that's the state of things at the moment. I'm still alive, floating along (sometimes, it actually feels like floating), and attempting to get things done.

I hope summer is treating you well. Relax, be happy, and enjoy a good book.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

IWSG: June and more free books

I've been busy editing and, for the past couple days worth of free time, catching up on the latest season of Supernatural. It was fortunate that I happened to check my email at lunch yesterday, after realizing I'd been ignoring it all week in favor of said previous activities, and realized the first Wednesday of the month was only a day away. I live in a time vacuum, I swear.

With the weather being nice (finally), I've been busy outside working in my gardens. For the past two weeks, I've been putting the finishing touches on the rock terraces (meaning I moved a LOT of rocks and plants and spread several yards of mulch) on half of my hillside flower garden. This past weekend I expanded my vegetable garden by 16 x 10 feet, built two new raised garden beds, filled them with soil and plants, and remulched the whole area. Who needs to go to the gym?

If you're looking for something to read, take a gander at selection in either of these two giveaways.
Fantasy, or Sci-fi and Fantasy short fiction

My Ask Me Anything wrapped up after a lot of questions. If there's anything you've wanted to know about me or my writing, it's probably answered there.

And now onto IWSG...

If you're not familiar with the Insecure Writers Support Group, check it out here.

This month's question is:
What's harder for you to come up with, book titles or character names?

Titles are by far more difficult to come up with. Character names usually come to me as I'm writing or I key mash until a string of letters looks interesting and tweak it from there to get the sound and feel of what I'm looking for to fit the story. Yes, that means my naming process is pretty methodical and well thought out. Ha! Because I'm not a planner for the most part, the vast majority of my characters are named before I get to know them and before I have an inkling what their true part in the story will be. It's like meeting a person, all you have to go on is a name and then you get to know them. Knowing this, the fact that names play an important role to the characters in both Sahmara and A Broken Race is a bit ironic.  

Titles, well, they don't usually hit me until the first round of edits when I get a full feel for what the story is really about. Its a theme I didn't originally set out to cover, a feeling, a character moment, a phrase, something that triggers an ah ha moment and poof, there's my title. The poof, makes it sound like an easy process, but its more often a long and painful slog wherein I gnash my teeth over the fact that the book may never have a title beyond Book 2 or Fantasy Story.

Which one is more difficult for you?

Monday, May 14, 2018

So many free books

Do you like free books? Well you're in luck! Check out these links for some great free fantasy and scif-fi reads. You can also find my book, Destiny Pills and Space Wizards there.


This promotion runs May 14-20 and includes both BookFunnel and Instafreebie books.


Need more books? Here are 24 more to choose from. This promotion runs until May 25.


Still need mooooore? Here are 119 Sci-fi, Fantasy and Horror titles to choose from. This promotion runs from May 15 to May 31st.


And if you've stocked up on books and want to have fun with some questions about writing, critiquing, gardening, chickens or hair color, I'll be over at Ask Me Anything from May 16-23 with answers. They may not be the right answers, but they're mine.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

IWSG: May and too many other things

So it would seem that yesterday was Wednesday. When did that pop up? I mean who puts a Wednesday right after Tuesday? And who put Wednesday so close to the beginning of the month?

Yes, I missed the
post day. One of these months I'll have some time to breathe and will have my crap together. This is not that month.

I've been busy preparing for Penguicon, both mentally and packing-wise. The prospect of full weekend of intense peopling is both exciting and terrifying at the same time. In part of that preparation, I opened my newly ordered copies of A Broken Race to a page with a typo. OMG, you've got to be freaking kidding me. And the super annoying thing is that it's a formatting typo. I use a laptop to do all things book, and occasionally the cursor isn't where I think it is so whatever key I hit applies somewhere else. In this case it was the backspace. Then come to find out, as took a deep breath and fixed that book file, a similar thing had happened right on the first page of Destiny Pills. So damn annoying. I love my laptop, but we're so not speaking right now.

On the heels of the random return and deleted character annoyance, I then see that the oh so helpful Createspace gods have added random blank pages and in one case, totally screwed up the entire page layout so now my margins are all wrong. And no, that didn't show up on the online proof. And of course I needed books in a hurry for this event and didn't have time to do a print proof and then order because my lovely daughter took so darn long (procrastinating teenagers, ugh) to do her drawings. So I apologize up front to anyone who purchases the slightly wonky versions this weekend.

I'm still trying to catch up on Blogging A to Z posts from all of you who visited throughout April. Too. Much. Going. On. Which brings me to this month's question:

Does this season inspire you to write more than others, or not?

Spring inspires me to get outside and clean up my flower beds, to build new raised garden boxes, to plant my garden, and to clean out my chicken coop. All of those things mean less time for writing. I'm so torn right now because spring is a super short season here, and made even shorter this year by almost a month thanks to a winter that wouldn't freaking quit, but I'm in the middle of edits on Trust. I want to be sitting here in my comfy chair sifting through editorial comments and making changes so that book can get into readers hands, but I also want to be outside doing all the things that need doing before it suddenly is 80 and my allergies make it hard to do outside things, because like, breathing is important or something. At this point, I'm slowly working on both things and shaking my fist and pretty much everything. Spring, you are a pretty, but stressful season.

Monday, April 30, 2018

A to Z - All Things Writing: Z The Satisfying Ending

Welcome to the Blogging A to Z Challenge, where, this month, I'll be focusing on all things writing. This may be a random jumping around of topics within my theme, but hopefully something somewhere will be useful to someone. (V is for vague - see that last sentence.) Check out all the participants here . Now, lets get on with today's letter.

Z is for The Satisfying Ending

I'm sure I've harped on endings before, maybe even last year, but it bears repeating. Stories, all stories, should have a satisfying end. But it's got a sequel. It's part of a series. I don't care. End it. If a book doesn't end in a manner that leaves me a least mostly fulfilled, I'm not ever going to pick up book two.

It's fine to leave some subplots a bit open ended. A happily ever after for now, is perfectly acceptable. We don't need everything tied up in a neat little bow. But we do need closure. The main plot of that particular book should be resolved. The mystery needs to be solved. An aspect of the big bad must be defeated. The couple should get together. You get the idea.

Books that just end like the writer dropped dead at the end of whatever sentence stands at the end of the novel end up denting my wall and go in the donation pile. Books should not end with (...to be continued).

Short stories might end with a surprise, a twist. They don't often have a shiny wrapped up bow on top ending. A short story is a much smaller investment of a reader's time so more of an ah-ha moment is sometimes all it takes to be satisfying. A novel, however, needs more closure. We're invested in characters, in the plots, we want to see things through. So make sure your books end. Your readers will thank you.

Thank you for joining me on this year's A to Z adventure. I hope you found a few useful posts this month. Good luck with your writing endeavors throughout the year and I hope you'll stop back to see where I am in mine. 


Would you like a free e-book? This April, I'm giving away free copies of my new anthology, Destiny Pills & Space Wizards. Claim your copy here: https://claims.instafreebie.com/free/vhJFWpLL Enter code atozpromo
Prefer paperback? The print book goes live on April 20. Reviews are always appreciated.





Saturday, April 28, 2018

A to Z - All Things Writing: You Know What You Mean

Welcome to the Blogging A to Z Challenge, where, this month, I'll be focusing on all things writing. This may be a random jumping around of topics within my theme, but hopefully something somewhere will be useful to someone. (V is for vague - see that last sentence.) Check out all the participants here . Now, lets get on with today's letter.

Y is for You Know What You Mean

The biggest issues many writers have is getting what is in their head onto the page. You know what you mean. You know your story and your characters. We've already covered how beta readers and critique groups can help point these areas out. But you can find some of them too.

The best way to do that is to give yourself some time away from your story so that you can approach it with fresh eyes. It's tempting to churn out a draft, tweak it with a few edits and toss it out into the world but your story could be so much better if you give it a little time to age and grow.

So finish you story and put it away. Go write something else. Be that a short story, a few short stories, another entire novel or edit another novel. The point is to get your mind working on something entirely different. When you're ready, be that weeks, months, or however much longer, read your story as if you've never read it before.

You might be surprised at what parts you enjoy and what you find yourself skimming over. Or what you thought you had explained that now you're wondering about. Maybe you don't remember what all the characters looked like or how they were involved with one another from the notes you had on paper or in your head that never really made into the story. Wasn't there backstory on a character? I swear this scene was going somewhere important, but I can't remember why I kept it. Guess what? You can do something about all of that. Put those things into the story.

Read that story aloud, either yourself or have your computer read it for you. You'll probably find missing words that you swear where there because you know what you mean.



Would you like a free e-book? This April, I'm giving away free copies of my new anthology, Destiny Pills & Space Wizards. Claim your copy here: https://claims.instafreebie.com/free/vhJFWpLL Enter code atozpromo
Prefer paperback? The print book goes live on April 20. Reviews are always appreciated.





Friday, April 27, 2018

A to Z - All Things Writing: X + Y = Z

Welcome to the Blogging A to Z Challenge, where, this month, I'll be focusing on all things writing. This may be a random jumping around of topics within my theme, but hopefully something somewhere will be useful to someone. (V is for vague - see that last sentence.) Check out all the participants here . Now, lets get on with today's letter.

X is for X + Y x Q = Z

If you've conquered a query letter or logline or blurb, you're likely familiar with the fact that there is a formula. If you haven't gotten to any of these stages yet, there's still plenty of time to get frustrated while trying to figure these things out with the rest of us. Here are the four main things you need to look for in your book.

Who is the main character?
What do they want?
What stands in their way?
What will happen if they don't succeed?

If you can't identify these things in your book, there's a big red flag. Your book is missing something essential. Time to head back to the rewrite stage.

Got your four pieces identified? Good. It's time to construct the seed of your query/logline/blurb.

MC wants ___ but opposing force ___(does what?) . MC must ___ (action) or _____(stakes)

You could also approach it as:

When ___ (bad thing) happens to MC, they must (action) or (stakes) happen

There are other formulas out there too. Just remember to keep it simple and build from there as needed. This will help you boil your story down to a sentence or two to hook readers or agents. And you thought writing a synopsis was hard?

Have you had to write a query letter?



Would you like a free e-book? This April, I'm giving away free copies of my new anthology, Destiny Pills & Space Wizards. Claim your copy here.
Prefer paperback? The print book goes live on April 20. Reviews are always appreciated.





Thursday, April 26, 2018

A to Z - All Things Writing: Writers

Welcome to the Blogging A to Z Challenge, where, this month, I'll be focusing on all things writing. This may be a random jumping around of topics within my theme, but hopefully something somewhere will be useful to someone. (V is for vague - see that last sentence.) Check out all the participants here . Now, lets get on with today's letter.

W is for Writers

Are you a writer or an author?

Some people prefer one over the other. Some people think of themselves as writers until they have been published and then they are authors. I've read conflicting reasoning on both.

A writer is someone who writes.

An author has been published.

A writer has written something

An author has finished something

A writer is someone who writes as an occupation

An author is someone who has created something

An author is a writer

As far a I'm concerned, they are interchangeable. What about you?



Would you like a free e-book? This April, I'm giving away free copies of my new anthology, Destiny Pills & Space Wizards. Claim your copy here: https://claims.instafreebie.com/free/vhJFWpLL Enter code atozpromo
Prefer paperback? The print book goes live on April 20. Reviews are always appreciated.





Wednesday, April 25, 2018

A to Z - All Things Writing : Vague

Welcome to the Blogging A to Z Challenge, where, this month, I'll be focusing on all things writing. This may be a random jumping around of topics within my theme, but hopefully something somewhere will be useful to someone. (V is for vague - see that last sentence.) Check out all the participants here . Now, lets get on with today's letter.

V is for Vague

One of the problems we have as writers is not adequately describing things. By things I mean setting, emotion, clothing, food, action, etc. We can see it all in our head, but it's difficult to use enough words to get all that on the page. So we tend to be vague. In some cases, the reader will fill in the gaps but in others, what is missing can mean the difference between a scene that a reader skims through and one they an highly engaged in.

Watch for:

• Leaning on adverbs. They often don't give us a clear image of the action and would be better served as a stronger verb instead.

• Words like 'a few' 'some' 'very' 'a couple' 'often' 'sometimes'. These all have appropriate uses, but ask yourself if a more definite description would be better suited to convey what you are trying to show.

• Rooms/places and people without anything to distinguish them. It's hard for a reader to get a visual to attach them to the scene if all we have is Sue running into the living room.

• Not committing to the full emotion of a scene. You're going for a tone or mood, but is it conveyed clear enough that the reader feels it too?

• A character has big feelings about something but do we have enough background and description at to why? The same for their motivations. "Because I said so" doesn't work well between writers and readers. These are things we need to show in the context of the story.

All of these are good points to ask your critique partners and beta readers to watch for because some of them are hard to spot yourself. You know your story too well.


Are there any particular aspects of writing that you find yourself being too vague about?




Would you like a free e-book? This April, I'm giving away free copies of my new anthology, Destiny Pills & Space Wizards. Claim your copy here: https://claims.instafreebie.com/free/vhJFWpLL Enter code atozpromo
Prefer paperback? The print book is now live on Amazon. Reviews are always appreciated.




Tuesday, April 24, 2018

A to Z - All Things Writing : Understanding what to keep and what to let go

Welcome to the Blogging A to Z Challenge, where, this month, I'll be focusing on all things writing. This may be a random jumping around of topics within my theme, but hopefully something somewhere will be useful to someone. (V is for vague - see that last sentence.) Check out all the participants here . Now, lets get on with today's letter.

U is for Understanding what to keep and what to let go

Getting all that feedback from editors, beta readers and critique partners can be overwhelming. So how do you know what to take into account and what to ignore and everything in between?

• Did more than one person point out the same issue? That's a good sign that it's not just a subjective opinion and is something you should take a deeper look at.

• Thinking of that person's comments overall, do they seem to have a good understanding of your book/characters/plot? If so, that's a good indication that this comment is something to give thought to.

• If the feedback is 90% praise, read that and enjoy it, but focus on the other 10% more. The issues they did pause to point out might be major ones.

• Does the comment feel harsh or hit hard on a sensitive issue?  You don't have to agree with it 100%, but it may be something you should let digest and work on with a clear head another day.

• Remember all feedback is subjective. It's someone's opinion. It might not be right. It might not be right for your particular story. But just because someone disagrees with an aspect of your story, doesn't mean they're wrong either. Give it some thought and time and move forward as appropriate.

• Should you make all the changes everyone suggests? Goodness no! What a frankennovel that would make. Use what your gut tells you should be used. You're the one writing your story.

• Don't be afraid to make changes, even big changes, but only when your heart is in it. It's too easy to get bogged down in trying to make everyone happy and that can suck the life out of you as a writer.

• Some people like to offer suggestions, and that can be very helpful to illustrate what they mean in the context of their comment. Use caution when adopting these suggestions word for word because they're not in your voice can stand out like a sore thumb. Try rewriting that line/section in your own words using the suggestion as a guideline instead.

Keep in mind, that through it all, you have that back up copy of your original work. You can rewrite edit your heart out because your precious words are always safe, gathering dust in a folder on your hard drive. No one can take those away from you - even though you'll probably never ever go back to them. 

How do you decide what to keep and what to let go?


Would you like a free e-book? This April, I'm giving away free copies of my new anthology, Destiny Pills & Space Wizards. Claim your copy here: https://claims.instafreebie.com/free/vhJFWpLL Enter code atozpromo
Prefer paperback? The print book is now live on Amazon. Reviews are always appreciated.