Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Desolate Mantle Launches Today! Yea!!!

Good Morning, All!

How is everyone doing today? Well, I'm fabulous because today is release day for Desolate Mantle! Yea!!!

This book has been in the works for more than 2 years, so I'm so relieved to finally get it onto the market.

Find it HERE on Amazon!

Tonight is the launch party. I'm hosting it online as a Facebook event and I'll be giving away tons of prized, including copies of Desolate Mantle, copies of my other books, and Amazon gift cards. So come join us for some fun and a chance to win some cool prizes.

Here's the event link if you want to join. I'd love for you to come:

So I guess that's pretty much it. Just the announcement today, but come join us for the launch party. It'll be fun and you could win something super-cool! :D

(Oh, btw, I made a somewhat last-minute decision to make book 1, Dark Remnants, permafree. It hasn't gone free on Amazon yet. It takes a little time for Amazon to price-match and like I said: last minute decision. Totally on me. So you can always wait for Amazon to price match, buy it on another platform if you have the right devices, or if you don't want to wait for a .mobi contact, feel free to contact me personally and I'll send you one. :D)

Wish me luck!

Friday, September 9, 2016

2 Techniques for Coming Up With Premises

Good Morning!

So about a week ago, I had a friend ask me how I come up with story ideas. This is a friend I talk to often and so she knows I always have way more stories in my head than I actually get around to writing. So her question was really more about how I can come up with so many things that can potentially turn into books. We also briefly discussed how to fill out a plot.

For me, it's not very different from coming up with full premises. I have ideas for certain things--often they're situations without full stories attached, or lines of dialogue I think are awesome and want to incorporate. There are hundreds of these little nuggets floating around in my head or in various untidy notebooks that litter my work space. So when I need to round out a plot or character, I often draw on these little idea. Generally I have to find some way to mold them to the story I'm already telling, which can change them a lot from what I had in mind at their inception. But I'll tell you, lovely readers, this is often where the magic happens. 

So how to come up with these premises or little idea nuggets? In my mind, there are two major ways to do it. Either on purpose (sort of forcing it, if you will) or just paying attention to the things that you find interesting. Let me explain.

1. On Purpose - I talked about this a lot in THIS POST and it's a technique I learned from the wonderful Clint Johnson. I know from my description above about forcing it, many people will balk. But I don't mean "forcing it" in the sense you're probably thinking. This is really just about being creative on purpose.

My prowling wolf painting.
Basically, you grab a pen and paper (I find it's much more effective for this exercise than typing on a computer) and you relax your mind. Start with something simple. Mundane, even. The rug on the floor. Maybe that rug has a pattern. What about it? Maybe hidden in the pattern is a prophecy. Maybe the prophecy foretells the end of the world. See what I mean? Just let your mind go. Make associations, do NOT make judgments. Write everything down and just go. If you get stuck, look at something else around you. I'm looking at a painting of wolves on the prowl. Maybe the wolves hold the key to the prophecy. Maybe the wolves are the caretakers of the secret... 

You'll find once you get started that you can go until your hand cramps (or your kids jump on you, your alarm goes off, whatever yanks you unceremoniously out of the Zone). It's such a great exercise for getting the creative juices flowing. Even if what you come up with in any given session doesn't turn into a best-selling novel, you can still come up with nuggets to sprinkle into your writing. Fill in gaps. And occasionally round out stories that win Pulitzer Prizes. (Disclaimer: Have I ever used this technique to win a Pulizter?...No. Other awards yes, but the Pulitzer no. ;D)

(Blurred some plot
stuff out. ;D)
2. Then there is simply paying attention to what interests you. This may seem like an obvious thing to say, but you'd be amazed how few people actually tap this source for story ideas. (The serious writers that do are the ones who carry little notebooks with them everywhere they go.) Of course, it's totally possible these days to do it on your phone as well. I've definitely used that technique before. (The pic at right is notes for Dragon Magic that are on the "notebook" app of my iphone.)

So my friend asked me to give her an example of something I thought was interesting that might turn into a story. Well, I think most of my books have at least something that would qualify, but the example I gave her has to do with a book I'm currently reading and a story I'm not actually writing at present.

As most of you who follow me know, I'm just a little bit fascinated by serial killers.

Just a little bit. ;D

Some time ago--I'm not even sure when or where I first heard it--I learned a little something about the Butcher of Kingsbury Run. He was a prolific serial killer in Cleveland, Ohio in the '30s. The book I'm reading is a non-fiction about the case (In the Wake of the Butcher by James Jessen Badal). But I'm honestly not interested in the Butcher solely bc he was a serial killer (I've read about tons of those) or even because he was never caught (though that does up the interest factor a bit). What REALLY made me interested in the case was finding out that Eliot Ness--yes THE Eliot Ness who brought down Capone and founded the Untouchables--presided over the case. And this was years after his success with the Chicago mob.

Ness was known for being traditional to a fault, extremely moral, and unrelenting in both his strictness and effectiveness at rooting out police corruption. So what would a man like that do with a case that involved an elusive serial killer? How would he handle body parts bobbing in the river every few months, and not being able to stop it. A case like this isn't something you can control or predict. I think it would be an interesting character sketch to explore how a man like Ness (ladybug to Capone's aphid) would react to a situation like that. And then there's the fact that it was never solved. Unlike in Chicago, Ness never got his man.

THAT'S the kind of stuff that fascinates me. THAT's the kind of stuff I want to learn and write about.

Now, chances are EVENTUALLY some piece of writing will come from my research on this, but I have a lot more to do, especially on Ness himself. (The book I'm reading is really more about the facts of the case.) But the point is, I just read a single line about how Eliot Ness eventually presided over the Butcher case and went, "Huh. That's kind of interesting." Boom. A story is born. Don't underestimate the power of tiny tidbits that catch your attention for a few seconds. Write them down, or you'll never know the potential they could have had.

So, what techniques do YOU use to come up with story premises or fill out already-existing plots?

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Insecure Writers Support Group: Time

Good morning and Happy Hump Day! 

It's IWSG day! Thanks to the wonderful Alex Cavanaugh for always bringing us together! Check out THIS PAGE for more info or if you want to participate! 

I wasn't sure what to write about this month, and it's interesting that the question for this month concerns finding time to write, because I thought I might do my post on that anyway. I think I've talked about it before, but it was all I had this month. :D

September 7 Question: How do you find the time to write in your busy day?

I think it's just about prioritizing and planning ahead. With the way my schedule is now, I can't get any work done until I put my 2-year-old nephew (who I tend full time) down for a nap. Then I get a couple of hours of quiet before he wakes up. It never feels like enough time to actually accomplish much. 

But then in the evening, I get more time, too. So I can plan on having a couple of hours in the afternoon and then a little bit bigger chunk in the evening. 

The only downside is that after chasing the bouncing baby nephew around all day (his name is Lyric but I affectionately call him Booger or just "the boogs") I'm often exhausted and not in a mood to write. 

But if I plan beforehand to get certain things done, the mindset can usually override the exhaustion. And if not, I can take a twenty minute nap to recharge before diving in. 

As cliche as it is, it's really just about the mindset. If you put your mind to it, you can do anything. And it's true. Determine that you WILL make time to write, and you will. Even if it's only ten or twenty minutes here and there. At least you'll be making progress. :D

How do you find time to write?

Monday, September 5, 2016

Why Do Serial Killers Fascinate Us So?

Good morning, All! How was everyone's weekend? Good I hope. I'm actually quite proud of myself. I was very productive this weekend. Not that I got EVEYTHING I need to do done (I have a running list of tasks right now) but I definitely made a dent. ;D

So today my post is actually HERE, over at Author Fiona Mitchell's blog. She's hosting me in anticipation of Desolate Mantle being released next week. So hop on over to her blog to read the post, and be sure to thank her for hosting me while you're there. She's awesome, and a very gifted writer.

Desolate Mantle: Release Date 9/13/2016

Click HERE to attend the online launch party, or for more information.

In the most dangerous city in the country, one controlled by the sadistic Sons of Ares gang, Kyra Roberts recently crossed paths with detective Gabe Nichols. She dismissed any liaison with him as impossible, but telling him the truth may prove inevitable...Walking the Slip Mire nightly, dressed in her disguise and trying to infiltrate a homicidal gang, Kyra sees plenty of things she can’t explain. When she begins to suspect a serial killer might be at work, she decides to approach Gabe again.Gabe has plenty to keep him busy: a bizarre missing persons case, a new development in his brother’s cold case, a new neighbor, and the grisly murders that are a nightly ritual in the Slip Mire. When Kyra shows up unexpectedly, he jumps at the chance keep her around, but it’s harder than he bargained for. She’s not an average source any more than she’s an average Mireling. Gabe wishes she would be sensible about her own safety.Their partnership crumbles, but when things become even darker than usual in the Slip Mire, they’ll need one another get survive a hellish situation. If they can’t work together to shoulder their burdens, they’ll find themselves utterly alone. In Abstreuse, it’s not a matter of not coming out of the darkness, but of being absorbed by the darkness itself… 

Happy Monday, Everyone!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Desolate Mantle Launch Party!

Good morning and Happy Hump Day, Everyone!

Couple of things today:

Some of you may have noticed that Bastions of Blood was supposed to be released 8/16 and wasn't. Unfortunately my publisher decided to push the release date back a few months. :( So I'm sorry to those who are waiting for it. I have no power over these decisions for my traditionally published books. I'll post the new release date as soon as I have it.

So those who were so impressed I was releasing two books in two months, yeah not so much. But that's okay.

Meanwhile, Desolate Mantle is still coming out on September 13, 2016. I've scheduled on online launch party for the day of the release. There will be fun questions, contests, prizes (gift cards and free books) and lots of crime fiction chit chat. It'll be super fun.

Click HERE to see the event or if you want to come. (I'd love to have ya! :D)

Also, (website)
Also, (email list)

Finally, both my JFP e-books, The Botanist and Citadels of Fire, are on sale for $1.99 right now. I'm not sure how long they'll be at that price (sort of indefinite right now) but it won't be forever. So if you haven't read them and want to, now's the time! 

 That's it for now. Have a great Thursday!

Monday, August 22, 2016

3 Ways Poetry Can Enhance Your Novel

You know what I've been thinking about lately? Poetry.
I know, right? I'm as shocked as you are. I've never been much of a poet. I mean, I rhyme couplets with the best of them, don't get me wrong. But I took a poetry class in college, thinking it'd be a breeze for me, and found out I sucked.

And granted, that was a college level poetic forms class. Really what I discovered is that I hate conforming to rigid rules in my writing. Some people flourish. I just feel like it stifles my creativity. There are certain genres I don't write for the same reason.

As with anything in life, if I really wanted to be good at poetry--form or otherwise--and I put my mind to it, applied myself, practiced, I could become good at it. I don't have the drive or patience. Basically, I just don't wanna.

But lately I've noticed several different works that have used some kind of poetry--poems, songs, prophecies, if we're talking high fantasy--that really enhance the story.

The example I'll use is a film. It's called Interstellar. Has anyone seen it? If you haven't, it's fantastic and I'd highly recommend it. One of my faves. During the highest-drama parts of the story, when there's the most suspense, the highest stakes, they add a voice-over of Michael Caine (who has a beautiful, calming voice) reciting the Dylan Thomas poem, "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night."

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Something about the juxtaposition of those two things was just so compelling. The first time I watched that film was on a small screen with a terrible internet connection, but I was still completely entranced by it.

So why does adding poetry, lyrics, limericks, etc work so well when they're done correctly? 

1. It can be used as a contrast. It's hard to show high-action drama but also bring across a calm, emotional theme. If you stop in the middle of your action scene to philosophize about theme, it's gonna kill your story. Editors will gleefully take a red pen to that crap. But using poetry accomplishes both at the same time. (Okay, it's harder to do it at the exact same form in book format than in film form, but you get the idea. It's easier to insert a few lines of poetry in an action scene without disrupting the flow of action. Or you can put it right after the scene to reinforce the theme you wanted to get across without being preachy or "telling" your reader something.)

2. It can bring theme across in a more obvious way. Building on #1, you may have a theme you want to bring across, but of course you can't just tell the reader what it is. This is a great way to actually put the theme into the story in a more-obvious way. Some writers may feel that this isn't subtle enough, but I think if done correctly, it can be very powerful.

3. Reinforcement. I keep mentioning theme, but you can use poetry to reinforce anything. Character arcs, symbols, conflicts, foreshadowing. Anything you want. In short, it's another tool writers can use to help not only tell their story, but bring it across in a powerful way.

I've already started employing this method in my WIP, which is a high fantasy. It kind of opens up a whole new world of exciting possibilities.

Have you used poetry, lyrics or something similar in any of your stories? How did it go for you?

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Book Release Dates, Follow Friday, and Friday Funnies!!!


1. Bastions of Blood, Book 2 of Kremlins will be released August 16, 2016. That's only 2 weeks away. Yeah! I will be holding an online Launch Party. Visit THIS LINK for more info or if you're interested in attending. There will be prizes including free ebooks, signed print books, and gift cards

2. Desolate Mantle, Book 2 of Street Games, will be released September 13, 2016. I will be holding an online launch party for that one too. Details forthcoming. 

Follow Friday:

Gain new followers and make new friends with the Book Blogger Feature & Follow! If this is your first time here, welcome! You are about to make some new friends and gain new followers -- but you have to know -- the point of this hop is to follow other bloggers also. I follow you, you follow me.

The Feature & Follow is hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee of Parajunkee's View and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it'll allow us to show off more new blogs!

How does this work? First you leave your name here on this post, (using the linky tools -- keep scrolling!) then you create a post on your own blog that links back to this post (easiest way is to just grab the code under the #FF picture and put it in your post) and then you visit as many blogs as you can and tell them "hi" in their comments (on the post that has the #FF image). You follow them, they follow you. Win. Win. Just make sure to follow back if someone follows you!

What are your favorite podcasts, bookish and non-bookish?

Oh dear. I'm afraid I have a very boring answer for this question: none. I don't usually listen to podcasts. I wish I did as I constantly come across dozens that sound fascinating, but I'm far too busy to spare the time and I currently don't spend enough time in the car or in other places that lend themselves to audio entertainment, so I rarely if ever indulge in such thing. Wish I had a more entertaining answer this week. :D

Friday Funnies

Welcome to Friday Funnies! Because everyone needs a good laugh on Friday.

This is by far the funniest thing I found this week:

It's a TERRIBLE pickup line. Please don't use it on anyone--man, woman, animal... but I did laugh for about ten minutes, and still chuckle whenever it randomly pops into my head.

Happy Friday, Everyone! Hope you all have a fun and safe weekend!