Monday, March 28, 2011

Unshakable? I Think Not.

On March 23rd, @ (Donald Maass) Tweeted the Following:

Who in your story has an ironclad, unshakable belief? Shatter or reverse it by the story’s end. 

That got me thinking about my WIP. What is driving my character's behavior and decisions. Do they change throughout the course of the 
story arc?  Is it important if they change in such a fundamental way?

Apparently it is...

Now, I am a huge fan of Maass's book, Writing the Breakout Novel. I've learned so much from his insight. He once had a story prompt. What is the worst thing that could happen to your character? What would make their world crumble around their write that scene. 

Whew!  I had to really think. What would do that?  Do you know off hand how to completely level your main chareacter...and could you do it?

This weekend I challenge you to take a look at what you're writing. Is there a deep change to your character's way of thinking...their view of themselves or their world?

Until next time...Go Write!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Cloak of Shadows - Nature of Magic Blogfest

I don't really believe in rabbits in hats and coins that disappear, but I do believe there are things out there that can't be explained away with science and facts.  

That's why when Tessa announced The Nature of Magic Blogfest, I thought I'd enter something I have been tinkering with on the side. Its a story that just seems to simmer in the back of my mind refusing to go away.

Its a kind of magic. Its supernatural, actually...

Cloak of Shadows

The demon, Eligos, astride his specter-steed galloped in silence unseen by the men staggering along the filthy alley. No one heard the skeletal hooves. No one but Seth. He saw and fear vaulted his heart in his chest.
Up ahead, the dark form slid along the chipped brick wall. The sound whispered through Seth’s mind like an old dry snake; urgent and angry, it made the hairs on his neck spike. He picked up his pace no longer worried about being sensed. The edges of silhouetted wings sparked with purple light as the silence billowed out in front of the demon.
Seth broke into a run to keep up ignoring the pain in his knees. His long coat whipped as he flit through the night at incredible speed. His black hair fell into his eyes. He had to know where it was going. Why Eligos would dare to break into this realm.
The discoverer of hidden things, the demon could see the end of battles. But Seth knew no kings that reigned here. No knights spilled blood on this ground. The demon’s presence, out of time and place, made no sense. Seth had encountered Eligos only once before, a decade ago, when his marks were still new.
The specter slowed and Seth’s stomach dropped as he closed the distance. Dark flowed out from Eligos like a black cloud blotting out the street lights and the stars. Silence and terrible cold bled from the demon’s form and Seth, sensing that it would be soon, peeled the coat from his body even as he began to shiver. Cringing at the sound of the material brushing against itself, Seth kept his eyes on Eligos. It seemed to be waiting, almost trembling with anticipation.
Silencing his breaths, Seth chanced a closer look and then he heard them; the footsteps, light and quick, a woman crossing the mouth of the alley.  He strained to see through the haze that shrouded Eligos. Craning his neck, he spotted her. A woman, maybe late-twenties, her pale face tilted down as she dug in her purse.
A shuddering screech tore out of the demon and he swooped along the black asphalt, the whirling wind that followed after him whipping the trash and dirt into the air. Seth sprang after him, the prayers leaving his lips in fevered whispers. He leaped toward the woman, knowing the light that shone from the moon would slow the demon. Reaching for her, his palms and wrists already alight with the glowing script etched into his skin.
The demon howled, whirled away, and doubled back in a wave of sickening cold and heaviness. The woman screamed in his arms, but Seth held her fast. His arms burned with the light, his mind racing against the encroaching confusion. Eligos, spurned by the light, tore left at the last second and flew overhead, churning in a pulsing streak above their heads.
“Run!” Seth yelled and pushed the woman out in front of him back down the alley. “Don’t look back.”
Her dark eyes, terrified and filled with tears, stared at him with shock. Her body shook. “What is it…what is it?”
Seth shoved her again. “Go!”
Eligos’ shriek echoed over them, reverberating down the alley. The woman screamed and ran in the wrong direction. Seth reached out, his hands digging into the freezing mist of Eligos, and held on, whispering frantically the entire time. The demon screamed in pain. It lashed and whipped at Seth, foul stench and terrifying howls exploded around him. The script along his chest, written on his hands and wrists, pulsed with white light and Seth saw the demon grimace in pain.
Eligos turned on him, whirling on the ghostly steed. Time slowed and Seth saw the stringy white hair of the demon floating out as if under water. He felt his own body leave the ground and grit his teeth, his words coming out in grunts. They hit Eligos as pulses of light pushing the demon back.
Voice seething with hatred, Eligos hissed. “She will be ours. And then you will all be lost.”
Seth, engulfed in the dark cloud of cold, shuddered and twisted away from the demon. Howls, pierced through him and then a hand was on his shoulder. Eyes snapping to his right, he saw the woman, her pale face blurred by the mist. She shouted something to him.
He lost his grip and Eligos whipped out of his hands, the dark following after it as the demon wailed along the alley and was gone. Seth fell to the asphalt, his breath ragged.
She ran to him, her eyes wide. Her gaze went to the ink on his pale arms. Back to black it looked like the dark scrawls of a quill.  He pulled his long sleeves down quickly and struggled to his feet.
        “What…who are you?” she gasped.

That's it for my entry. Please stop by and read the other fascinating excerpts at Tessa's Blurb.

Until next time...go write!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Falling Through Ice - Feature Friday

Its my pleasure today to welcome author, Rosetta D. Hoessli to talk about her book, Falling Through Ice.

RB: I heard this was a true story. What can you tell us about the subject of your book?

RosettaFalling Through Ice is the true story of a San Antonio, Texas woman named Carolyn Sue Huebner who, at age 29, was arrested on May 27, 1987 for conspiracy in a plot to have her husband murdered. This in itself might not have been so shocking, but Huebner was the founder and president of Texas Child Search, Inc., an organization that had located 59 missing children since its inception in 1982. Much appreciated by law enforcement and called upon for assistance by child abuse experts all over the country.
Falling Through Ice brings the reader directly into Carolyn’s courageous struggle to come to grips with the secrets in her past and the disastrous effects those secrets had on her life. Carolyn’s incarceration saved her life and gave her the opportunity to discover the only lost child she had ever been afraid to find—the child within herself.

RB: Is there an overriding theme you hope your readers take away from your book?
Rosetta: There are two overriding themes for me. One is that our society must recognize that child abuse affects far more than just its littlest victims. Child abuse victimizes everyone. Child abuse victims fill our prisons, mental institutions, and homeless shelters. 
The other theme is even more important, and that is that God exists. He’s alive, and He’s just waiting for us to acknowledge His Presence. In Falling Through Ice, God stayed with a little child and helped her survive unspeakable torment, only to take a backseat in her life until she welcomed Him back again. God doesn’t force His way into our lives. He waits for us to call out to Him and then He comes. His blessings are so much more than we deserve.

RB: How long have you been writing and does your background influence what you write?
Rosetta: My background influences me in that I’m an only child and I’ve been reading since I was about four years old. I learned early to create characters to play with. Also, because I’m a military brat, we moved every two years and I always had to set up a new home in a new environment. That taught me to describe places and cultures. So, by the time I was about twelve, I was writing anything that interested me.
I started my first book (long since thrown into the trash heap) when my daughter was a toddler and I needed a creative outlet to keep from going crazy. It was a lousy book, but I finished it and that was the most important thing. So—and this is a shock to me!—I’ve been writing more than 50 years!
RB: Oh my goodness, that is a long time. Do you have a favorite book on the writing craft?
Rosetta: My favorite book is one on character development called Fiction is Folks. I use this book no matter what I’m working on—fiction or nonfiction, books or articles. If the piece requires a human being, I pull out Fiction is Folks
RB: What is your advice to struggling authors out there?
Rosetta Be persistent. Never give up. Believe in yourself. Read, read, read! Study the work of authors you admire and pay close attention to the way they put their stories together. Don’t copy them, but learn from them.
RB: That's great advice. What’s coming up for you in terms of your career?
Rosetta: I’m finally starting to work on a historical family saga trilogy (with a paranormal slant) that I’ve wanted to work on for years. The first book, the one I’m working on now, is called Comanche Winds. Set in Texas, it’ll cover about 50 years of two families—one Anglo, one Indian.
RB: Thank you so much for visiting with us. 
To find out more about her book, Falling Through Ice, visit her on Amazon.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Purple Prose Blogfest - Early Entry

Erin over at Hold On To Your Bloomers! is having a blogfest that encourages flowery prose. Its called the Paint It Purple Blogfest and it starts on 3/25, but I have a previously scheduled Author Feature tomorrow so I'm posting today.

Alighting my promethium flame to the cylindrical harbinger of death, I inhaled the ethereal fragrance of the Marlboro. The wraith-like tendrils floated effervescently toward the celestial dome of my sleeping chamber. 

I sighed, the deep and throaty groan of woman whose mind is elsewhere...lumbering over the heady musings of life and the fleeting happiness of a love found but not caught. 

A quivering note, high and plaintive, burst from my electronic tether...I looked at the phone on my nightstand. It was him. The Apollo of my heart, scorching an arc of need across the heavens of my psyche. Should I heed his cry?

So basically, she was having a smoke and her boyfriend called.

I hope you enjoyed my entry. Until next time...Go Write!
Photograph by A Magill.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Join In The Fun - Upcoming Blogfests

With March winding down, there are a few blogfests coming up this last week. I wanted to highlight a few that are both fun and challenging.

We start with the Paint It Purple Blogfest over at Hold On To Your Bloomers! Erin is actually encouraging outrageously purple prose in the entries. Should be a hoot to read. And if you're game...there's still time to sign up. The blogfest begins on 3/25/2011.

Hosted by Tessa Conte and Laura B. Diamond, The Nature of Magic blogfest goes live on 3/26/2011. Still open to participants I'm all atwitter over what people will post.

Who doesn't love a Harry Potter blofest? Micahael Di Gesu over at In Time... is hosting one such event on 3/30/2011. Excerpts on who would be your mates sounds like a really fun fest.  Mr. Linky is still accepting blogs to participate.

Vicki Rocho is hosting a Memory Lane blogfest to commemorate the 1 year anniversary of her blog, Rambles & Randomness.  It begins on the weekend of 4/2.  There's still time to sign up.

And who can forget the eagerly anticipated A-Z Blogging Challenge conceived by Arlee Bird? He has several co-hosts this year and the participation has skyrocketed to over 200 bloggers. A great way to meet writers and poets and artists from across the ether, the blogfest goes on for the entire month of April.

I hope to see all of you and read your work in one of these blogfests.  Until next time...Go Write!

Monday, March 21, 2011

How Authors Can Use Analytics - Marketing Mondays

Guest Post by Nicole Rodgers:

Analytics provide tools to help writers maneuver the waters of public relations. Developing an understanding of analytics and putting that knowledge to work can help you with your author platform.

Understanding How Analytics Helps With Platform Building

Analytics will:

Come from information gathered by software on your website that tracks what your visitors do while on your website and even where they come from when getting to your website.
Provide you with feedback for the level of success content has in attracting visitors and even in making sales.

Give you information about trends on your site so that you can then make the most of those patterns with content creation and release timing.

Help you view the growth of your platform which can make it easier to sell your writing or approach publishers and agents.

Choosing the Right Analytics Software

1.    Know your budget. There are a number of different analytics programs that are available at no charge. These can be the perfect place to begin understanding the numbers games.

2.     Make a list of what you want to track. Not all analytics software is created equal. Some of them will only show you the number of page visits and other basic information. Others will show where you visitors come from and where they click when they leave. 
    Keep in mind that as you learn more about analytics your needs may change. Keep that in mind when considering signing up with a program that requires a financial investment.

3.    Realize your limitations. Some software will have a higher learning curve than others. Think about the time that will have to be invested to learn the software when weighing the different analytic programs.

Using Analytics as an Author

The term writer platform has become a common phrase in the industry. Authors need to be seen and known in order to sell their products. A platform is any reason that people would know the name or the face of the author.

Analytics provide a measuring stick for how many people recognize the author online. Knowing the number of unique visitors gives you a negotiation tool when approaching stores, publishers or editors.

·         Knowing the keywords that draw visitors to your site can guide the content that you create in the future.
·         Understanding the way your visitors click around your site can help you create a website that is easier for them to use.
·         Seeing the path that brings visitors to your content can help you create relationships with other websites in your niche.
·         Learning the timing of visitors can help you discover the optimum time for releasing new content or new products.
·         Being able to determine which topics receive the most traffic can help you use linking techniques to draw visitors to more places on your website through those articles.

Building a presence on the internet – just like in real life – requires understanding the traffic flow of potential visitors. Measuring the way visitors interact with your website can give you the information needed to chart the flow of your visitors. 

Analytics programs provide you with the tools to gather the information you need.

There are a wide range of programs available that can help you maneuver through the streams of information. Understanding analytics, finding the right program and putting them to work for your advancement as an author will help you immensely.

Nicole Rodgers has been blogging about the tech industry for 3 years.  She blogs about a variety of topics ranging from using a heat map for sites to ways to create a budget for your business plans. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Pack Your Bags and Go!

Want to know 3 compelling reasons you NEED to go to a writer's conference?  If you're serious about getting published they're a must.

Hop on over to my Guest Post over at Blogging Authors to find out why.

Pssst! Don't forget to leave a comment on the host site. 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

There's Another - A Broken Heart Blogfest

You've broken my heart. I trusted you. I thought you would do what  you said you would. That I would get from you what I wanted, but I see that's not possible for you; hasn't been for a while.  

I hear your internal groan when I am near you. That low painful grind of your innards as you struggle to meet my expectations. It's been obvious for a while now that we need to part. I just didn't want to consider the cost of so much upheaval.

I have to admit something to you. I've found another. A sleeker, more willing to please version of you that I've already brought home. 

I know...I know you're trying, but...its not good enough anymore.  I find that I'm getting more than I hoped for, more than I thought within my reach, from my new love and I won't be coming back.

So I'm here for my things. My pictures and music -- I want them back.  I want my books back too. You've dropped the ball on those anyway. Most of my other things I've already moved can't keep them in limbo anymore while you're "working."

No...I don't want to go to a professional. I don't think they can do much anyway. They're expensive and their little black and white buggy cars creep me out.  

I've tried to help you clean up. Tried to get you to be as you once were...remember the programs? The hours of "waiting" only to have you go back to what you were doing?

I'm tired of being blindsided by your freezing me out. I'm tired of having to recover things that you've trashed for no reason. So this is it. I'm walking away.  I'm off to spend time with a real workhorse...

Goodbye, old laptop.

That's it for my Broken Heart Blogfest. Thank you to It's In The Book for hosting such a fun event.  Hope you visit the other participants. Until next time...Go Write!

Photograph by Rosa Menkman. 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Meet Author Anne Riley - Feature Friday

Today on our first "Feature Friday" we're meeting with author, Anne Riley, to talk about her debut YA novel, The Clearing.
RB: Thanks so much for stopping by, Anne. What can you tell us about your new book?
Anne: It’s about a girl named Natalie Watson who doesn't believe
the reports about the way her parents died. In fact, she’s not sure she believes in much of anything these days. But after moving from her home in Georgia to her aunt’s boarding school in Maine, solving the mystery of her parents’ deaths is just one of several things on her mind. When she’s not fending off attacks from the popular kids or taking refuge in the pages of a novel, she ponders the rumors circulating about a certain boy in her math class… a boy with fiery red hair who never speaks to anyone.

Despite suspicions that he may have murdered his sister a year earlier, Natalie finds it impossible to stay away from Liam Abernathy – especially when he confesses to knowing something about her parents. Soon she’s following him into the forest, where things happen she doesn’t understand… things that shouldn’t be possible….

As Liam’s story unfolds, Natalie realizes she’s more connected to him than she ever thought – and not everyone she counts as a friend can be trusted.

RB: Sounds exciting! Is there a character you’ve created that has special meaning for you?

Anne: The main character, Natalie, is so much like myself when I was a teenager! I was such a nerd and never felt like I shared the same interests as my classmates. Unfortunately, I don’t have nearly as good a reason as Natalie does for my weirdness. 

RB: So did your background as teenager who felt like this help you tell your main character's story?

Anne: My background totally helped because Natalie and I are both southern. This helped me identify with her point of view and it also made her southern dialect flawless.

RB: Now that you're a published author with all the experiences that come with that journey, do you have any advice for struggling writers out there?

Anne: Oh, man. It's tough, creating worlds and people out of thin air and then hoping someone else likes what you've created enough to publish it. I would say to always keep working, keep creating, and don't let the challenges of the industry stop you!

RB: That's encouraging advice, Anne. What do you have to say about those of us struggling with writer's block...any secrets?

Anne: I walk. I walk a lot. Always by myself. I've been known to break through a plot hole or two at our local gym too. Also, letting other people read helps. They can give you a fresh perspective on the story.

RB: What's coming up for you in terms of your career? Is there a sequel on its way?

Anne: Now that The Clearing is published, I am doing a couple of small, local author events. My agent has just sent me her comment on my second novel, Synthesis, and I'm trying to find an opportunity to dive into them!  After Synthesis goes out for submission, I hope to write a sequel to The Clearing.

RB: Wow, you sound super busy. We're so glad you came to visit. Congratulations on your new release!

Anne Riley is an author of young adult fiction disguised as a high school Spanish teacher. She lives in Birmingham, Alabama with her husband and their daughter. You can get to know her better at

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Is Your Media Kit Complete?

Whether its guest posting or being featured as an author with a new release on a book blog, the one thing you need to have on hand after a stellar novel is a Media Kit.  There are a few things that are must to have on hand. You never know when someone has a slot open up and if you're prepared, you might just snag that opportunity. Here are some things to have ready to go...

  • A .jpeg of your book cover. Usually your publisher will send you a few different kinds. High resolution for print and some lower ones for thumbnails and online sites.
  • An up to date photograph. Preferably a professionally done headshot.
  • 2 versions of your author bio. One short one, a little more than a few lines, to go at the bottom of posts. Make sure that it has links to your blog and book site. You'll also need a more extended one-page version for things like newsletters and for interviewers to create questions.
  • Sample interview. Have a list of questions that you've answered. Sometimes the host blog will just go with it or use it to create their own questions for you. It helps to show if you're quirky or funny or profound...your voice.
  • A stellar excerpt. Something that grabs the reader and makes them want more. Most people use the scene where the hero and heroine meet. Others user the precipitating event. Don't give a way too much. Its usually only 200-300 words.
  • A short synopsis of your book. Mason Canyon over at Thoughts In Progress suggested this in the comments and I had to add it. She's right. Sometimes space is limited so a great blurb about your book is handy promotion tool.

Those are just the bare bones. Create a folder on your desktop and have all of these things at the ready. If you get a call for something, you have it all organized already. This way you don't accidentally forget to include your bio with links or something vital like that.

Some other things to consider adding to your Media Kit are:

  • Book trailer. Some bloggers will post a link to it if its on YouTube or just embed it in the post about you.
  • A book list. If you've written more than one book you should have this information available. Include cover art and links.
  • Your upcoming events. Are you on a blog tour or having a launch party? Include that information.
  • Where to Buy. Finally, if your book is out already, have the purchase information available for posting.

Believe me when I say that having this all done is a real life-saver. I learned the hard way on this one. I was offered an opportunity to guest post but it had to be emailed within the hour. I didn't remember to put a little mention about my upcoming release.  I'd lost out on an opportunity...don't make the same mistake.

Take some time to get this together and then...RELAX.  Get back to what you should be doing -- WRITING!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

In My Defense...Just LOOK At Him

I have an excuse for still having posters of stars on my really! When I am writing a novel, I like to have pictures tacked to the bulletin board that sits on the wall in front of where I type.  Sort of directed daydreaming for when my eyes wander from the screen.  I have cut-out travel magazine pages for setting, that sort of thing. 

I do this for my characters too.  I try to find some person, whether its a star or just a super dreamy men's cologne model (you know what I'm talking about) that fits my vision of my main character's description. Intensity, wit, charm, and a certain smoldering look.

For instance, in my new WIP, The Black Adders, I had to find someone that fit the character's inability to shave regularly and yet not look like a homeless guy.  He also had to be able to look you in the eye, lie charmingly, and have you not really care.  For Simon Hale, my disgraced cop turned detective, I chose Eion Bailey.

He seems to have that intensity I'm looking for as well as the best smile ever...he also pulls off the lost, can't quite understand why I'm such a wreck, but I can still talk you into almost anything type of gaze that is just so inspiring.

There is no way...NO WAY, a woman can suspect this guy of foul play for very long. That he's not a stellar decision maker doesn't seem to affect him until he meets the heroine. Who has no patience for his shenanigans. And rightly so. She's smart, savvy, and on to his out!

I try to get multiple pictures with different expressions because it really helps in the action beats of the dialogue. Does he have a crooked smile?  Cleft chin? Do his eyes crinkle at the corners when he grins? Could he pull off brandishing a weapon or would he just look lame? Right handed or Southpaw? 

These all add a believable layer to character descriptions. They may not all come out in your novel, but the more complete an image you have in your noggin the more fleshed-out your characters translate onto the page.

I try to do the same for the female lead. Hair and clothes are more relevant to the heroine in romances. Does she half smirk when she smiles?  Is her chin a tad stubborn? 

My question to you is this...are pictures helpful to you when you write?  Do you have things on your bulletin board that help you see the uniqueness of your characters and setting?  What gives you inspiration?