Sunday, October 28, 2012

NaNo Prep - How Do You Organize?

Its not a sprint. Its a month-long marathon of pushing for the coveted 50, 000 words. I know there are a lot of  opinions as to whether it is 'pure' or not to organize your thoughts or even outline a story before the bell, but I'm all for it. Why? Because I think it will help you reach your goal. 

There are a few ways to go.  I'm a huge fan of Randy Ingermanson's Snow Flake Method.  Its very step-by-step and you end up with not only plot blocks, an outline, and a rough draft of your synopsis, but you can work your steps into a very nice proposal.

Another program I've tried with great results is Scrivener. You can get in on a BETA version that is free and lasts for 30 days which is all you need for Nano anyway. 

Something I use now and have found works wonderful for visual people is the iPad Index Card ap.  You can move scenes around and even import the outline to your computer which is very helpful.

My panster friend makes outlines a la high school. And she weaves incredibly detailed and intricate plots. She's more of a free spirit and loves to just let go and let her characters 'be' but she does do some preparation.

NaNoWriMo may be a great opportunity to get that story that's been scratching in your skull out and on to paper. But as I said before, writing at that pace, without a plan, may result in a meandering mess.

If you have some great organizational ideas, I'd love to hear them. As I get ready for the month of November, I could use all the help I can get.

Until next time...Go Write!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Heinous, But Worth It

In writing, there is no 'TRY' as the great Master Yoda is so fond of saying. You either 'DO' or 'DO NOT' write a book. Simple and true.

I have gone to many a conference and met people who where 'thinking' of writing a book. They chatted with me happily over lunch and even went on to 'pitch meetings' with agents and editors. Some of their ideas were downright awesome and yet a small percentage of those stories ever get written.

That is why although NaNoWriMo is going to produce some heinously cobbled together, practically stream-of-consciousness, is totally worth it to participate.

Let me be clear. Getting something down on paper, however disastrous, is ALWAYS going to be better than never writing at all.

I once received some great advice from a writing mentor. He said that the first draft is supposed to be crappy. Its supposed to have flaws and plot holes and repeated words. Why? Because it is a 1st Draft. Just get the story out.

Embellish the setting later. Nit-pic the dialogue after. Weave in some more mystery or romance or zombies...whatever. But write the dang thing first. Finish.

There will be 2nd and 3rd drafts. Polished manuscripts you send out to Beta readers and to contest and agents.

The hardest thing to do is to put your behind in the chair every night and type until you hit your goal. And you have to have a writing goal for each day. Be it word count, page count, or chapters, you don't get up until you reach your goal. Period.

Author Yoda
Anyhoo...I hope you consider participating in NaNo. Its amazingly helpful as a motivation tool. You can join local chapters, plot your progress on their site. Heck, they even sell t-shirts for that solidarity feeling.

But if you are serious about becoming a published author there is only one way to do that. Write.

I hope to see you on the NaNo site! My handle is Rbyrnz. And may the words be with you. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Living in Harmony, New Amish Fiction!

The Clash of the Titles Blog Alliance is proud to share great August release with its readers.

Ink still damp from the presses, Living in Harmony by Mary Ellis, currently sits on a store shelf near you! Want more good news? It’s the first in a series—perfect time to jump on board.

About the book:
Living in Harmony is the first book in bestselling author Mary Ellis's New Beginnings series. It's about fresh starts and love...and how faith in God and His perfect plan for our lives provides us with the peace and joy we desire.

Amy King--young, engaged, and Amish--faces difficult challenges in her life when she suddenly loses both of her parents in a house fire. Her fiancé, John Detweiler, persuades her and her sister Nora to leave Lancaster County and make a new beginning with him in Harmony, Maine, where he has relatives who can help the women in their time of need.

John's brother Thomas and sister-in-law Sally readily open their home to the three newcomers. Wise beyond his years, Thomas, a minister in the district, refuses to marry Amy and John upon their arrival, suggesting instead a period of adjustment and counseling. During this time Amy discovers an aunt who was shunned. She wishes to reconnect with her, but this puts a strain on her relationship with John.

Can John and Amy find a way to live in happily in Harmony before making a lifetime commitment to one another?

For those addicted to Amish stories, you won’t want to miss this one. To everyone else, this might be the book that gets you hooked on this wildfire genre.

Here’s what reviewer Rachel Brand of the Christian Manifesto has to say about Living in Harmony:

Just when you think nothing new and original can come out of the Amish genre, a book like this comes along and proves that you’re completely wrong.
It’s hard to express exactly what I loved so much about Living in Harmony. It’s not just the setting, the new community and the realistic secondary characters that made this novel so refreshing and unique. Mary Ellis crafted her hero and heroine as incredibly relate-able characters, flawed human beings who prove that even the Amish don’t have perfect relationships or marriages.
Each character had their own personality and purpose in the novel, which means that there’s bound to be at least one character that every reader can relate to.
If you need a little bit more realism in your Amish fiction, or just don’t want to read a happily-ever-after romance, then Living in Harmony is the book for you.

About the author:

Mary Ellis grew up near the Amish and fell in love with them. She has now written nine bestselling novels set in their communities. When not writing, she enjoys gardening, bicycling, and swimming. Before "retiring" to write full-time, Mary taught school and worked as a sales rep for Hershey Chocolate. Her debut Christian book, A Widow's Hope, was a finalist for the 2010 ACFW Carols and the Holt Medallion Award of Merit.

You can find Mary at these locations:

Friday, October 19, 2012

Tuesday's Child

Guilty of love in the first degree, a deaf witness who 'sees' the murders and a cop torn between doing his duty and going out in faith.

I am so excited for the release of Tuesday's Child today! This book has such a great twist to it and I love the characters. Flawed and struggling, they really seem to resonate...

Deaf from the age of five, Adeline Munroe operates a hospital for injured dolls, but lately her quiet life is disturbed by violent, haunting visions. Perhaps it's just her unspoken fear--a serial killer has struck in Headley Cross. But Adeline soon realizes she's seeing each murder just before they happen and reluctantly contacts the police. 

Detective Sergeant Nate Holmes has enough to deal with between caring for his orphaned niece and his current assignment--the Herbalist killings, so when a woman comes forward who claims to be "seeing" the crimes in dreams, he isn't hopeful she'll be of any help. But he knows her from church, and she inexplicably describes how each crime is committed. Is God answering his prayers through Adeline?

Adeline assists the police, yet more women die and she becomes the prime target of the killer. Will Nate crack the case before the Herbalist can complete his agenda--or will the next murder Adeline foresees be her own?

All of Nate’s senses kicked into action, his copper’s antennae twitching.
She knew something, or at least thought she did.
“What is it?”
Adeline sucked her lower lip into her mouth, worrying it with her teeth. “This is going to sound stupid, but…” She took a deep breath. “I saw them. All of them. They all had their hair tied back or up.” She picked up the top clipping. “She was playing on a swing and wearing a red jacket. This one was walking the dog and wearing blue.”
Nate jolted as if he’d been struck by lightning. Those details hadn’t been released. Was he wrong about her? Was she somehow involved with the murders? “Wait  a minute. How did you know any of this?”
Adeline carried on speaking as she shifted through the papers. “She was on her way to dance class in pink. This one was jogging in a gray toweling track suit and the first one…”
Nate put a hand on her arm, cutting her off.
She jerked her head upwards in surprise.
He held her gaze. “How do you know all this?”
“I told you, I saw them.”

I know, right?  This book is a sure bet for the To Be Read pile on your nightstand. Suspense, love, faith...all the elements of a great read.

You can find Tuesday's Child anywhere books are sold including Amazon and Pelican Book Group's site.

About the Author: Clare lives in a small town in England with her husband, whom she married in 1992, and her three children. Writing from a early childhood and encouraged by her teachers, she graduated from rewriting fairy stories through fanfiction to using her own original characters and enjoys writing an eclectic mix of romance, crime fiction and children's stories. When she's not writing, reading, sewing or keeping house or doing the many piles of laundry her children manage to make, she's working part time in the breakfast club at one of the local schools.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Did I Notice Your Book Blogfest

Today is the day! I get to highlight a book that I've notice and truly found heartwarming and worth the read. 

It was the winner of the 2012 Inspirational Readers Choice Award and for good reason.

I really loved this book particularly for the troubled past of the heroine. This was story I could relate to with imperfect people and a story the doesn't pull any punches.

Saw it at CBD.
Here is a Blurb:
A choice, a tragedy, and life-altering consequences…
When Rena Dunigan flees New York City and her dream of becoming a Broadway performer, she returns to her hometown harboring a life-altering secret and the shame of a shattered past. When her friend talks her into helping build a house through the local Shelter the Homeless program, Rena meets Cody and his mischievous Saint Bernard. 

Cody is dealing with a devastating loss of his own, yet his gentleness and patience melt Rena's resolve never to trust—or to love—again. 

But what will Cody think when he learns the consequences of Rena's past? Will he reject her, or can she trust that love will heal hurting hearts and forever bind them together?

So that's my pick. I just loved the cover and when I read about it on Night Owl Reviews. I was totally interested in checking it out.  Don't forget to visit the other participants in the Did I Notice Your Book Blogfest.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Anti-Heroes 101: Bad Boy Gone Good...For Now

Almost a year to the date I did series entitled Anti-Heroes 101 where I touched on The Mysterious Bad Boy, The Bad Boy with Potential, and The Elusive Bad Boy.  I had a lot of fun and got some great comments and advice from all of you.

The Dark Quality:
Flash forward a year to this past summer where I’ve embarked on book two of my mystery series and I’ve discovered a fourth anti-hero…Bad Boy Gone Good.  This dark hero is usually someone the heroine knows from years ago or hears stories about from other characters.

He has a dark past and now is determined to right his wrongs no matter the cost. Even if it is his own happiness or worse, his life.

The Appeal:
So, of all the anti-heroes, this guy is in fact a bona fide bad boy. Which can be very magnetic. There is no veneer of danger, no pristine leather jackets, no empty threats.  He did hurt people in his past either unintentionally or on purpose and for some reason has changed course.  

Taming the beast. Being the balm to his tortured soul is a draw and an addicting one at that. There is also the fact that he is a true alpha-male.  Add to that the idea of being the reason for bringing out the nobility in such a strong character is a great pull.

He is dangerous because this anti-hero actually did do harm and has the potential to do it again. One choice during one fleeting moment is all it takes. And the risk of that can be quite fun to flirt with in the safety of a good book.

The Set Up:
To keep the heroin safe, he must revert to what he was. Only what he was will cause him to lose the heroine.  A dilemma, right? 

This is where you pile on the conflict. Often the rising danger would be better faced by the “old” ways and that creates tension.

This is a great choice for historical romance and westerns. Pirates make wonderful Bad Boys Gone Good. Also all types of contemporary dramas from cops to spies to reformed white collar criminals. 

You take the hero and show all the good he does, how he is just a slightly tarnished white knight, and how he truly hates or regrets what he was.

Then you throw in either a situation from his past or actual returning characters from those dark days that mess things up for our hero.  A great way to add even more conflict is to have your hero hiding his dastardly deeds with a false name or even a faked death.  Another source of agitation is the struggle to keep others from revealing what he did.

Bring in danger so severe that there seems to be no choice but to reach down into the dark and fight fire with fire.

Make him value the sincerity and goodness of the heroine and the life she represents. Make him dare to hope and then yank it away…for a time.

The Reward:
With every bad boy story line, you need to have that moment of redemption. That scene where all the things he's done or said finally make sense. Usually ten chapters in or so, the time you need to supply the first major disaster.

He is not the guy he once was. He is wiser, stronger, and has the trust of people he loves. He won’t want to lose that.  The heroine will find out his past, she must in order to truly know him, but she won't leave him. She knows who he is now and that is all that matters to her.  This will seal his heart to hers forever.

He will need to make a devastating choice. His life for another. His future for hers. Whatever it is, make it costly and agonizing for him. And then make him do the right thing.

The Heart’s Hope:
The reason the heroine hangs in there and believes, despite all evidence to the contrary, that her hero has changed is because it is her heart’s hope that his love for her is stronger than the darkness inside him. That he will fight for them and for her.

Often she chooses to trust him against all reason and the advice of others and is validated when he proves to be the man she always knew he was deep down.

The heroines of these stories are often ingénues or idealists. They are the good guys through-and-through. They are by-the-book, trust in the good, belief in happily-ever-after type of gals. This hope and purity of heart is what so captures these bad boys and makes them want to be what she sees in him.

These women believe in white hats and real heroes and true love and The Bad Boy Gone Good will do anything to prove her right.

***Crossover Potential***
The Bad Boy Gone Good...temporarily is often mashed up with TheMysterious Bad Boy or the Bad Boy with Potential because they all have a sordid past to overcome. 

Examples of this type of anti-hero are…Damon Salvatore from the Vampire Diaries. He has definite darkness in his past and yet is trying his mightiest to not be what he believes himself to be...for Elena.

Also Angel from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series....noticing a pattern?  Yes, this hero is popular in stories where there are paranormal elements because it ups the potential for power to tempt. Also historical romance where a rogue makes his fortune and returns to win the woman he's secretly loved.

Or even in movies, Thor as he goes from the cause of a war to sacrificing his life for humans.  

Can you think of any Bad Boys Gone Good  that just captured your heart? Movies count!

Until next time…Go Write!

Monday, October 8, 2012

How Thor Helped My Writing

I am a geek girl, through and through. I loved comics, computers, and chess as a high schooler...the three C's of social oblivion.

As a writer though, I KNOW that loving the epic struggles and sacrifices of my comic book *cough* graphic novel, heroes has served me well as an author.

Think of your favorite super hero and break down why you love them. Be it movie or magazine, the elements will inevitably be the same. And you can apply those points to your writing to construct riveting heroes your readers with love.
  • There are always TWO types of struggle going on.  The external, public stakes type of struggle. Be it aliens or mad men, there is something on the outside of the hero causing conflict.  But there is always...ALWAYS, some sort of inner struggle that pulls the audience in. Betrayal by a brother, loss of family, the ache for vengeance, a secret shame...something makes the hero the way he or she is.
  • There is a clear path for them. We know that the hero must defeat the villain. We know that all cannot be lost. We just don't quite know how he will get there, just that he HAS to for the good guys to win. Clear change. Definite Goal.
  • It is their soul not their strength that inspires us. We may not have special powers or super speed, but we can have an unbreakable spirit and that is what a great hero makes us aspire to. Someone that never gives up, does the honorable thing despite the cost, and lives for something real and noble.
  • Tension and conflict are integral to the story. They fight with people that love them, they are betrayed, they suffer crushing blows to their confidence and still keep going. Comics provide a great blue print for compelling stories. Good books are more than action scenes and bullet caliber descriptions. They are gripping because of the personal stakes.
  • The struggle resonates. Great stories of adventure and thrills all have a human core that readers can identify with. Sure we may not all have billions of dollars and cool gadgets, but we've lost people we love and felt helpless. Not all of us have magic hardware, but we've all felt the pain of failing expectations and hurt from loved ones. Human emotions are the core of any good story.
Take a moment to think about your main character. Be it hero or heroine. Do you like them or are they falling a little flat? They may be missing an element that makes them human....even if they come to reader by way of Mars. 

Until next time...Go Write!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

August New Releases Champion!


Congratulations to Gloria Clover, winner of the August New Releases Clash, with her novel, The Fire Starter!

Thank you so much to our competitors. This competition was amazing!

A Sense of Mission by Ann Gaylia O'Barr
Her Good Name by Ruth Axtell
Living in Harmony by Mary Ellis
Rodeo Ashes by Shannon Taylor Vannatter

About the Book:
Three generations ago, wooded Celosia Island burned in a fire storm. Now the government keeps the island safe through limited trade and rare immigration. So it is unsettling to Princess Amaryllis Filippopoulos to learn her father has invited an off-island prince into residence to translate some ancient scrolls and to marry her, his youngest daughter and heir to the throne.

Prince Valryan Molan has been sent to present to the people of Celosia the reality of the King, even though He is not readily perceived by the five senses or logic, the Stoic beliefs of Celosia's ancestors. Valryan finds his mission hampered by his bride's reluctance to marry and the immediate need to protect the people from illegal fire weapons.

But none of that compares to the unexpected fire storm Amaryllis ignites in his heart.

Read an excerpt and find out more at Dessert Breeze Publishing.

The Fire Starter is book two in this exciting speculative fiction series entitled Children of the King. Check out Gloria Clover's other works at her website.

Thank you all for joining in and casting your vote! Here are some of the kind words you had to share.

  • Gorgeous cover, Gloria, for your wonderful story.
  • All five books are intriguing, both covers and short blurb. Alas, I could only choose one.
  • When God gives the gift, it is our duty to use it wisely. Thank you all for doing so!
  • All the books sound very intriguing. Nice job.
Praise for The Fire Starter:

Excitement, adventure, mystery, and undiluted romance make Fire Starter another winner!
                                                 ~Karen Witemeyer, CBA Bestselling author of Short-Straw Bride

I'm butter in Gloria Clover's hands as this master of words doles out
another inspiring story that draws me into the life of her characters and
God's arms.                           ~Ellen List

About the Author:

Gloria Clover, Christ-follower and Truth-seeker, writes romantic fiction with the hope of showing God's love and our need in both humorous and haunting ways.  The Children of the King series is her first foray into e-book publishing and her first speculative fiction. Washed Under the Waves (book 1) and The Fire Starter (book 2) are currently available from Desert Breeze Publishing.  From the Frozen Depths (book 3) is under construction and will be available next August.

Gloria's contemporary romances, published by Barbour Books and Son-Rise Publications, include:  The Remaking of Moe McKenna in the Race to the Altar anthology, Brianna's Pardon, Tangled Truths, and ten volumes of Penned From the Heart, a compilation of 365 daily devotions.

She is a member of Emmanuel Christian Church, active in prayer ministry, women's ministries, American Heritage Girls, and various other projects.  She directs a One Day Writing Conference each April, participates in writing/book days in local schools, and enjoys giving and receiving from her various writing critique groups.  She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, participating in the ACFW book club and prayer loops.

Married, she writes from her little white box in western PA.

Visit her at where you can find both her site pages and blog topics.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Have You Seen My Man Muse?

So I'm rounding in on the 20,000 word mark on my current WIP. The thing is, its taken me so long to get here! I feel like I've been struggling with this story for so long its knitted to my bones.

Since June, I have clawed and deleted and guzzled cold coffee at one in the morning...only to snarl at the monitor and slash every paragraph I just wrote. 

I don't know why this seems to happen...EVERY time. I start out all bright-eyed and hopeful and then the image I had in my head seems to come out in a twisted, heaving mess on the paper. No worries, I tell myself. Its part of a process, the sculpting and winnowing, and I keep typing until...

Nothing sounds right, the characters betray me at every turn with their dumb dialogue and pointless action beats. The plot, once so clear and brilliant, disintegrates into a muddled, meandering mess. 

Mr. Vicious
Frustrated, I no longer even try to hide the arguments I am having OUT LOUD with the vicious book reviewer that occupies the dank corner of my mind. ----->

I believe I have reached this sanity-questioning point in my "process" for this book.  I'm a plotter and a planner, so most of my three-ring binder is filled with notes and flow charts and diagrams and the detritus of an uptight mind.  

So much so, that I may have planned myself out of inspiration.  Sometimes too much of a good thing is what gives you the dry heaves...right?

Man Muse
I think I may have to resort to some old fashioned free-writing, seat of my pants, stream of consciousness exercises to get my muse to return...that sadistic, fickle, desperately missed mister. 

<-----You know who you are, Man Muse! *sigh* 

What do you do when your story goes off the rails? Any great advice?  Feel free to commiserate in the comments. I feel you.

Photograph by The Shorts and Longs Photo by gdeantownshende