Monday, September 28, 2015

How an internet meme can help you write a better story~

I'm sure you've read a million quotes on the internet by now. Some of them are great advice, but you've read them so many times you don't even notice them anymore, do you?

One of the most ubiquitous is "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle you know nothing about." or some variation on that idea. I saw it again the other day, but I had to google it to find out who actually said it. (It's Ian Maclaren for the record.)

Obviously, it's always good to be kind, but what does the saying have to do with writing? Its the second truth in the quote that struck me - "everyone is fighting a hard battle."

When you craft the characters of your novel, each one should be fighting their own secret fight, whether it's obvious what that is or not. Even better if its a secret that's revealed to the reader along the way.

Think of all the people you know, in real life and online. All of them have secrets they're keeping for some reason. They may desperately love someone who doesn't know. They may be hiding a mental illness or a sexual orientation. They may have unhealthy addictions or even harmless ones. The point is, you don't really know, do you? But these secret struggles or preoccupations are the motivation for our actions and behaviors, whether we admit it or not. They form the fabric of our character.

So if you want to create a living, breathing fictional character, it makes sense to ask yourself "What secret fight is my character fighting? Do their friends and family know what it is? What would happen if they found out? And how does that affect the plot?

Steven King says a good book doesn't give up all its secrets at once. Neither does a good character.

In my latest southern Gothic novella, The Color of Water, Samantha is fighting many battles with herself and her past. I hope you'll check it out on Amazon and add it on Goodreads

Thursday, September 24, 2015

M9B Two for Thursday Book Blitz: Dead Jed series by Scott Craven with Giveaway #T4T

Welcome to this week’s Two for Thursday Book Blitz #T4T presented by Month9books/Tantrum Books!
Today, we will be showcasing two titles that may tickle your fancy, and we’ll share what readers have to say about these titles!
You just might find your next read!
This week, #T4T presents to you the:
Dead Jed series by Scott Craven!
Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!
Dead Jed is Shaun of the Dead meets Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Jed's not your typical junior high geek. He is, to use the politically-correct term, cardiovascularly-challenged. And while his parents have attempted to shield him from the implications of being 'different' for as long as they could (Jed was 8 and at a friend's sister's birthday party when he blew his lips off onto the cake in front of everyone, finally prompting the “Big Talk” from his parents and an emergency SuperGlue repair by his dad), 7th grade at Pine Hollow Middle School as a target of Robbie the supreme school bully and his pack of moronic toadies is rapidly becoming unbearable.
From being stuffed in a filled trash can as “dead meat” and into a trophy case as the bully's “prize,” to literally having his hand pulled off in the boys' room (Jed's always losing body parts. Luckily, a good stapler and some duct tape and he's back in the action) and a cigarette put in it and try to frame him for the recent reports of smoking in the school, Jed's had enough and is ready to plan his revenge. Besides, it's awesome what you can do when you're already dead!
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DEAD JED is amazing. It takes true talent to write a book that's witty and has such clever humor. That's exactly what DEAD JED has.” – Courtney, Author
I’m entirely convinced this series is going to be as big and popular as the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, if not more. It might be aimed at middle grade readers, but I will highly and happily recommend it to readers aged 9 to 99!”Angie, Books4Tomorrow
“Middle Grade humor at its finest.” – S.A. Larsen, Author
The first part of seventh grade was rough on Jed, but things are looking up now that Christmas is almost here. As with past Christmases, Jed asks for the one thing he’s always wanted–a dog–and again, his parents tell him they’re not ready. But fate has a different plan when Jed sees a dog get run over by a car. Then, it happens. Jed suddenly has a pet, Tread, a zombie dog bearing his namesake–a tire tread down his back. Jed may have gained a dog, but he loses his best friend Luke, who fears the way Jed created his undead pet.
When Jed returns to school, he finds a mysterious group called the No Zombies Now Network spreading rumors of the dangers the undead pose to normal people. Forced to disprove Hollywood stereotypes, Jed has his work cut out for him as stories of a zombie dog begin to circulate. Jed could be expelled if he can’t expose the NZN Network as a fraud. Jed needs help from his kind of girlfriend Anna, especially after he discovers Luke has joined the shadowy group.
Once again navigating the treacherous waters of middle school, Jed does his best to stay in one piece. Only this time he’ll need even more duct tape and staples than usual.
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“Like its predecessor Dead Jed, Dead Jed 2: Dawn of the Jed is an incredibly cute and fun read!”Angie, Books4Tomorrow
“This is a fun story, which was written very well for the age group. I can imagine the series being a huge hit, especially with zombies being so popular at the moment.”Bri, Natural Bri - Pursuits of Life
“…just read it, you will love it and it sooooo funny” – Michelle, Because Reading
Proud graduate of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, have one son who will turn 18 in March 2013, now a features writer for The Arizona Republic.
Connect with the Author: Website | Twitter
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Monday, September 21, 2015

A Tale of Two Memoirs~

So, quite by accident, I ended up reading two memoirs this year. Last spring I read Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson and now I'm reading I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

I picked them both as part of my diversity reading challenge. Caged Bird was published in 1969, when no one even batted an eye at the use of the word Negro. I had heard of it, but never really knew it was a memoir. Obviously, reams and reams have been written about it and my opinion hardly matters, but something has struck me about the book (and I'm not completely finished reading). 

As with Brown Girl Dreaming, there's a sense of drifting as a young child from grandparent to parent, back to grandparent.  Maya's story starts in the 1930's and 40's. Jacqueline's story is from the 1960's and 70's, but there's still the same upended life on the move, from place to place to place. Maya's description of parents she really doesn't know and finally meeting them is especially heart wrenching to me. I can't imagine how hard it was on those children to be shipped around. We think grandparents raising children is a new phenomenon, but obviously it's not. It will continue for as long as we refuse to educate children about sex and how to care for and protect themselves before they need to know.

Much has been made of the early rape and the later sexual experimentation in the book, but it is an honest, thoughtful portrayal of real life for these children. To ignore that is to ignore reality. Deny that it happens if you'd like, but that doesn't change the fact that these things go on.  The social outcome won't change until we can all have open, honest discussions about sex with our children in preparation for adulthood. I applaud Angelou for having the bravery to be so honest in a world where so many are still kidding themselves.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Storyteller: The Complete Trilogy now available in Print

At long last, the Storyteller Trilogy comes to print! My very first e-books have been brought together in one hefty paperback volume with a beautiful new cover.

If you've ever wanted to hold Storyteller in your hand, now's your chance. And if you've never read Storyteller, you're in for a treat!

The Storyteller Series tells the story of a young fairy hidden in the human world who has to save her home world- The True World- from forces that threaten to destroy everything. It's an epic middle-grade tale to appeals to all readers that's been compared to The Chronicles of Narnia and Fablehaven.

~Praise for Storyteller~

This story blew me away. As a middle grade story, it's a success with plenty of social strife and a little innocent romance. But what really gets me is the world building, the fantasy and the adventure. Plus, there is an element of danger that soon builds into quite a gripping story, nothing at all what I expected in the early chapters. The writing is smooth and easy to read without being simplistic. The plot development is solid, and I really enjoy the unique way Lily learns about her mother.

The character development is also noteworthy. Each person, friend or foe, is unique and believable. The good guys aren't perfect and the bad guys are scary, but not invincible.

Overall I loved this story because it's exciting and reminds me of The Neverending Story. It's one I know I'll read again and again. I recommend this to young and old, anyone who loves fantasy and modern fairy tales. ~ Goodreads reviewer

Find it now on Amazon!
Or if you prefer e-books, the entire series can be found on

Follow me on Goodreads for updates on all my books. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

M9B Two for Thursday Book Blitz: Scion of the Sun by Nicola Marsh and The Looking Glass by Jessica Arnold with Giveaway #T4T

Welcome to this week’s Two for Thursday Book Blitz #T4T presented by Month9books/Tantrum Books!
Today, we will be showcasing two titles that may tickle your fancy, and we’ll share what readers have to say about these titles!
You just might find your next read!
This week, #T4T presents to you:
Scion of the Sun by Nicola Marsh and The Looking Glass by Jessica Arnold
Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!
When she least expects it, sixteen-year old Holly Burton’s unremarkable life is shaken to the core. A vision of the mother Holly never knew leaves her questioning everything she believes.
Eager for answers, Holly enrolls at a boarding school for highly gifted students in Wolfebane, New Hampshire. But things will get worse before they get better, as Holly accidentally transports to a parallel existence where she's confronted by a dark and ancient evil.
With the help of Joss, a sexy alpha warrior sworn to protect her, and her new BFF, the equally swoon-worthy Quinn, Holly faces her fears and an unlikely adversary in a showdown that is worse than anything she could’ve possibly imagined …
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Charmed and drawn in by Holly’s spunk and snark, Scion of the Sun will leave you spinning and falling for Joss right along with Holly. Marsh’s unique story is packed with action, mystery, romance and suspense. This is not to be missed!” – Jennifer L. Armentrout, USA TODAY Bestselling Author
It's a unique novel in YA literature, and I hope it won't be under-appreciated! An excellent start to a new mythology-based series, this is!”Alyssa – Eater of Books
“This was a unique tale about a heroine who is not perfect by any means, but does her best despite her failings.” –Grace – Grace Books of Love
Nicola Marsh
Nicola currently writes for Harlequin Mills and Boon Romance and Riva/Presents series, Entangled Publishing, Month9Books, Harlequin Teen and Crimson Romance, has published 39 books and sold over 3.5 million copies worldwide. She’s a Bookscan, USA Today, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Waldenbooks bestseller, has finalled in several awards including the prestigious HOLT (Honoring Outstanding Literary Talent), Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, Booksellers’ Best, Golden Quill, Laurel Wreath, More than Magic and won several CataRomance Reviewers’ Choice Awards. Nicola loves the hip, vibrant, cosmopolitan vibe of her home city, Melbourne, where she’s set the bulk of her novels, highlighting fabulous cultural and food havens like Acland Street (St. Kilda), Brunswick Street (Fitzroy) and Lygon Street (Carlton). When she’s not writing she’s busy raising her two little heroes, sharing fine food with family and friends, cheering on her beloved North Melbourne Kangaroos footy team and her favorite, curling up with a good book!
Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads
The Looking Glass
Find the diary, break the curse, step through The Looking Glass!
Fifteen-year-old Alice Montgomery wakes up in the lobby of the B&B where she has been vacationing with her family to a startling discovery: no one can see or hear her. The cheap desk lights have been replaced with gas lamps and the linoleum floor with hardwood and rich Oriental carpeting. Someone has replaced the artwork with eerie paintings of Elizabeth Blackwell, the insane actress and rumored witch who killed herself at the hotel in the 1880s. Alice watches from behind the looking glass where she is haunted by Elizabeth Blackwell. Trapped in the 19th-century version of the hotel, Alice must figure out a way to break Elizabeth’s curse—with the help of Elizabeth's old diary and Tony, the son of a ghost hunter who is investigating the haunted B&B—before she becomes the inn's next victim.
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Curses, ghosts, betrayal and love. All elements to a perfect ghostly story..” – Jasmyn, Bitten by Romance
“I think one of the creepiest things about The Looking Glass was the way it made me feel so claustrophobic. It was similar to the way I felt when I read Stephen King's Under the Dome--trapped and a bit panicked.”Kelly, Reviewer
“It was so different and so beautifully written and detailed that I really could not put this story down and I felt as though I was there with Alice throughout the story.” – Melissa, Simplistic Reviews
Jessica Arnold
Jessica Arnold writes YA, codes ebooks, and is currently a graduate student in publishing at Emerson College in Boston. She spends most of her time in class or work or slogging through the homework swamp. If she has a spare moment, she’s always up for a round of Boggle. Given the opportunity, Jessica will pontificate at length on the virtues of the serial comma, when and where to use an en dash, and why the semicolon is the best punctuation mark pretty much ever.
Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads
Complete the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win!