Friday, August 30, 2013

The Kink in My Writing Hose

You know when you're out watering your flowers and the dang hose kinks up? Nothing but a dribble of water taunts you and your withering begonias? Yeah. That's kind of how my writing's been lately. What to do?


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Bleeding Heart

No, I haven't been playing around with chainsaws again, thank you very much. Today I'm going to do something that I usually do only during the last week of the year...a book review.

While I write many book reviews, I don't generally post them here. You can find my snarky comments on Goodreads or Novel Reviews. But (and I've always got a big but) I love to help out fledgling authors. Amber Stokes is a new kid on the block with her debut novel Bleeding Heart.

Amber Stokes

Here's a blurb ~

Five bleeding hearts. One profound journey.

Summer 1886

Sally Clay's livelihood has been snatched away, but in its place arises an opportunity to escape from her sordid past and an unrelenting, unwanted suitor. Boarding a train with a heartsick rancher and an enigmatic miner, she leaves Virginia City behind and heads to Northern California, waiting for the chance to make right what went wrong three long years before.

But the road to revenge is far from smooth. Sally soon learns that the jagged pieces of a broken heart can far too easily wound the hearts of others - and hers isn't the only heart that's broken. Tragedy and fear dog her steps as she flees from the redwood forests to the high desert and back again. Will her bleeding heart ever find a way and a place to heal?

A desperate soiled dove. Three men who come to care for her. One man determined to claim her.

All on a journey that will show them what true love really involves.


And here's my review ~

Looking for an Old West action-packed story? Have I found a book for you! Bleeding Heart is a rootin-tootin-shootin’ debut novel by Amber Stokes. There’s plenty of romance, the requisite gunfight and hanging, a marshal, saloons and yes, even a train ride.

The story takes place shortly after the Civil War. Heroine Sally Clay is desperate to leave behind her life in a brothel to chase after the man she loves. The thing is…the fella doesn’t really love her. It’s one mishap and adventure after another, keeping the reader in suspense of who Sally will end up with. Just when you think you’ve got it figured out, wham! Yet another plot twist. I won’t give you a spoiler, but doggone if there was one surprise I totally did not see coming.

Sally is painfully aware of her sordid past, creating a very realistic guilt that makes her a believable character. She’s also impetuous, making bad decisions without even thinking about the consequences. Everywhere Sally looks for safety and love, she doesn’t find it.

The villain is someone you love to hate, although I’m not quite sure what his motivation is to have Sally for his own, other than perhaps he hates not getting his way. Basically, he’s a creepy stalker.

Love the sidekick Myghal. Full of good advice, solid, dependable. You’ll root for him, cry for him, and close the book with an immense amount of compassion for this character.

I thought I could trust the cook, Zachary Taylor, but then I wasn’t certain…turns out, well, you don’t really want me to tell you, do you?

Overall, this is a good summer read. There’s a big jump between part I and II, one I didn’t expect. I would’ve liked to see the action played out, though that would’ve made this a much longer book. Bleeding Heart has a whole lot of broken hearts all over the place, except for the reader’s—a solid debut novel for Amber Stokes. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Nectar of the gods

Agents and publishers come and go, but there's one thing a writer cannot survive without...java. Yeah, it's important to learn to show instead of tell, how to construct believably complex characters, and yada-yada, but the single most strategic skill a writer can master is how to brew a great cup of joe (and yes, I was a barista at one point in time so I'm not just talking smack).

The 5 Fundamental Principles of Superb Coffee Brewing

1. Don't cheap out; buy the good beans.
Scope out your neck of the woods for a shop that roasts their own beans, then buy them freshly roasted. I realize it's easier to grab a bag off a grocery store shelf, but do you know how long those beans have been sitting there? Since the dawn of time. Trust me.

2. Grind your own beans just before brewing.
Invest in a burr grinder and pulverize those delectable pods of tastiness right before you make your coffee. Coffee compounds deteriorate quickly when exposed to oxygen, so only grind as much as you will use.

3. Store your beans properly.
Keep your precious cargo in an airtight container away from the sun. The whole "should I freeze those beans or not?" is highly controversial, so I'm not even going to stick my toe in that piranha infested water. The most important thing is to keep them air tight.

4. Don't wimp out on the amount you grind.
Does anyone seriously like to drink church coffee? You know, the tan, hot water that's served in white styrofoam cups by blue-haired ladies in the church basement? Why would you do that to yourself? Grind up a goodly amount, and when you think it's just right, dump in a few more beans.

5. Perfect the technique.
Are you a french press devotee? A pour-over snob? A Mr. Coffee set-me-the-timer-and-shut-up kind of drinker? Whatever your method of coffee making is, own it and take the time to master it.

There you have it. Yes, you could toodle over to Starbucks and fork over cash for a cup each morning, but there's much to be said psychologically about the benefits of a coffee brewing ritual in the morning.

And for you tea drinkers out there, I hear you. You'll be getting your fair and balanced post in the future.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Tagxedo


Today is National Word Playground Day. Okay, so I made that up, but still, wouldn't you like to celebrate words by taking a few to the park and hopping on the metal spinny thing that the boys like to push at warp speed until you throw up?

If queasiness isn't your thing, you can still play over at TAGXEDO. Yeah, we've all done word clouds before, but this site gives you a lot more options. They self proclaim that they do "Word Clouds With Style".

So toodle on over and give it a whirl. It doesn't even have to be your writing. You can do a website, a famous speech, love letters, your grocery list, whatever. Run free, little children, and maybe strap on a helmet. I don't want any law suits.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Writing in the Hard Times

"When asked, 'How do you write?'
I invariably answer,
'one word at a time.'"
~ Stephen King

It's easy to write when life is all romping unicorns and your happy pants don't dig in at the waistband. Those are the times cranking out a few thousand words is easy.

But try writing when you just found out you've got cancer. Or your teenage daughter comes home and tells you she's pregnant. Or your husband packs his suitcases and walks out the door. Forever.

I'm not saying any of those things are going on in my life right now, but I guarantee you they're going on in someone's. How is a writer to write when the going gets tough?

There's no simple answer. Sorry, but I can't slap up a Top Three list and make everything better. There is one thing I know, however.

Just keep writing.

Writing when life gets gritty is often the most relatable for a reader. Everyone goes through turbulence and nose dives, and when an author bleeds their feelings onto the page, that's when a reader is going to connect in a very real, personal way.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Bonus!

Want to score a free signed copy of A HEART DECEIVED plus a Book Club Kit? Want to win some cutesy magnets? My author buddy Jessica Dotta is doing a giveaway in honor of the upcoming release of her debut book BORN OF PERSUASION. Enter the contest here.


Book Art

This Fun Friday I'm off having fun in Wisconsin. Never fear, though. I haven't forgotten my blog buddies. I'm not saying I'd like to have my book cut up like this, but it is pretty cool all the same...


Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Gentlewoman's Guide to Opium Addiction: How to Tell if Your Mr. Right Has Been Tokin', Smokin' or Shootin' the Poppy

What comes to mind when I say Jane Austen? Hold on. Let me guess…

- swirling ballroom scenes

- dinner parties galore

- the dashing Mr. Darcy

Any of these answers would be right, of course, but you’d also be correct if you’d shouted out opium usage. Austen’s mother used opium to help her sleep, and her father was an agent in the trade. Elizabeth Barrett Browning took opiates every day from the age of fourteen, Sir Walter Scott consumed 6 grams a day, and Samuel Coleridge was a regular user.

Yes, indeed. I hate to burst your bubble of the romantic days of yore, but opium addiction was an issue to be reckoned with.

The first written account of the non-medicinal virtues of this drug is in De Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium Eater, published in 1821. He advocates opium usage not as a pharmaceutical pain reliever but as a trip into “an inner world of secret self-consciousness.” Sounds positively hippyish, eh?

Had Mr. Darcy been hanging out in a nearby opium den, these are the symptoms Elizabeth Bennett should’ve looked for:

· Red or glazed eyes

· Confusion

· Slurred or rapid speech

· Loss of appetite

· Apathy or depression

· Frequent headaches

· Insomnia

While Jane Austen preferred to write of dances and dinners, I dove into the seamier side of things and made the hero in A HEART DECEIVED a recovering opium addict. Why?

Because addiction is a contemporary problem with historical roots.

It’s just as hard for my fictional character Ethan to turn down a bottle of laudanum as it is for a real person today to pass on a hit of meth. With God’s help, it can be done—which is exactly what Ethan discovers.

So take care, gentlewomen, when searching out your Mr. Right. Opiates have been around since the days of Pharaoh, and are likely here to stay.

Interested in Ethan’s story? Check out A HEART DECEIVED

Miri Brayden teeters on a razor's edge between placating and enraging her brother, whom she depends upon for support. Yet if his anger is unleashed, so is his madness. Miri must keep his descent into lunacy a secret, or he'll be committed to an asylum—and she'll be sent to the poorhouse.

Ethan Goodwin has been on the run all of his life—from family, from the law ... from God. After a heart-changing encounter with the gritty Reverend John Newton, Ethan would like nothing more than to become a man of integrity—an impossible feat for an opium addict charged with murder.

When Ethan shows up on Miri's doorstep, her balancing act falls to pieces. Both Ethan and Miri are caught in a web of lies and deceit—fallacies that land Ethan in prison and Miri in the asylum with her brother. Only the truth will set them free.

A HEART DECEIVED is available by David C. Cook and at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and ChristianBook.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Avoiding the Fellas in White Jackets

freedigitalphotos.net
My mother took me to a pediatrician when I was five because I spent an excessive amount of time beneath the dining room table talking to my best buddy…Daniel Boone. Yeah, I know. He’s dead. I knew it at the time as well, but that didn’t stop me from having heart-to-hearts with him. In my mind, he was as real as the old cat lady who lived next door, only he didn’t smell as funky.

The doctor vindicated me by telling my mom there was nothing to worry about. I simply had a bad case of a vivid imagination. I don’t dare tell her (or the good doctor) that my gray matter now devises horrific murder scenes in cinemagraphic color—and that I actually make money doing it. 

All this to say that writers are a quirky lot. They have to be, or they won’t get paid, which is really interesting because a few hundred years ago, the same twitchy behavior might’ve landed one in the loony bin. It didn’t take much...

Attitude
Husbands committed wives for being “melancholy”. Translation: the fella took a fancy to the hot babe down the lane and wanted to ditch his wife.

Physical Glitch
Yo, mom and dad…got too many mouths to feed and one of them has a slight deformation? Maybe a cleft palate, perhaps? No worries. Pack that kid off to the asylum and voila; one less plate to serve at dinnertime.

Revenge
If someone higher up the food chain has an issue with you, watch your back, buddy. Dueling is against the law, but getting you committed sure isn’t. All it takes is a lie or two whispered into the right ears and you’ll be packing your bags for Bedlam.

Traitorous Tendencies
One of the most famous nutjobs in Bethlehem Royal Hospital was James Tilly Matthews, who was little more than a verbal threat to the crown. Well, to be fair, there was the rumor that he was a double agent, and he did think there was a conspiracy to place bad thoughts into his head by use of an “airloom”, but other than that, he was relatively harmless…unless you happened to be one of the politicians he spoke against and were worried he might froth up the rabble against you.

Getting packed off to a late eighteenth century asylum was about as much fun as stint in a Poorhouse. Many were understaffed, over populated, and the mental health industry itself was in need of reformation—which would and did come, but not in time to help out the heroine in my latest release, A HEART DECEIVED.

Miri Brayden teeters on a razor's edge between placating and enraging her brother, whom she depends upon for support. Yet if his anger is unleashed, so is his madness. Miri must keep his descent into lunacy a secret, or he'll be committed to an asylum—and she'll be sent to the poorhouse.

Ethan Goodwin has been on the run all of his life—from family, from the law ... from God. After a heart-changing encounter with the gritty Reverend John Newton, Ethan would like nothing more than to become a man of integrity—an impossible feat for an opium addict charged with murder.

When Ethan shows up on Miri's doorstep, her balancing act falls to pieces. Both Ethan and Miri are caught in a web of lies and deceit—fallacies that land Ethan in prison and Miri in the asylum with her brother. Only the truth will set them free.


Today, writers, daydreamers and silly hearts don’t need to be as fearful about the men in white jackets coming to haul them away. Still, it wouldn’t hurt if you kept all your talk about airlooms to yourself.

A HEART DECEIVED is available by David C. Cook and at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and ChristianBook.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

5 Ways to Tell if You're a Writer

Can you name this author?
Writers are strange animals. They’re solitary mammals, prone to long stretches of hibernation unrelated to weather conditions. Generally, they’re pale, wear glasses, and for some reason I’ve never been able to figure out, tend to wear flamboyant hats. What’s up with that?

If you suspect there’s a writer gene in your DNA, here’s a surefire test that doesn’t require a blood draw or even a swab of the inside of your mouth.


1. You kill off your imaginary playmates.
Authors invent people. You craft words to connect readers to your characters, pulling at their heartstrings, making them best buddies. Then all for the sake of story, you take those imaginary friends and ramp up the catastrophes. Bam. Bam. Bam. All leading to a horrific climax…
“Meet Susan. She’s blonde, friendly, the girl next door with good dental hygiene. Her freckles are endearing and she helps little old ladies across the street. Everyone loves Susan. Whoopsidoodle! A Mack truck just hit Susan. Her dog died. And now there’s a one-armed stalker with an eye patch that wants to drink her blood. Poor, poor Susan.” 

2. Your skill at lying is only exceeded by those in Washington.
Writers get paid to tell whoppers, kind of like attorneys, only without the debt of law school. It’s an author’s job to convince others of the plausibility of their story, to pull the reader into a whole new world—one they can taste, touch and smell. Remember Susan? Yeah. Enough said.

3. You’re an uber-frustrated control freak.
You sit around all day, controlling what your characters say and wear, manipulating how they act and feel. You are a god of your fictional realm. Nothing happens unless you make it so. Enjoy the feeling, minion, because when you surface from storyland, you don’t get to control reviews, contracts, publisher advances, or book placement, and you’re at the complete mercy of the Amazon recommendation algorithm.

4. You long for a raging bout of tinnitus just to shut up the voices in your head for a while.
When you’re asked about where you get your story ideas, you respond with, “What…you mean you don’t have mega-plex screens playing inside your head?” At least that’s how you answer the first time. After you’ve been scarred by the horrified face twisting that answer receives, you learn to reply, “Oh, here and there.” But that does nothing to clamp the lips of the story sirens tempting you to listen to quite possibly the best plot idea ever in the history of mankind. And don’t bother buying the sound cancelling earbuds. It doesn’t work.

5. You fly your freak flag high.
Hey, if being nutty-nuts was good enough for Tolstoy, Hemmingway, and Poe, you’re all for it. Besides which, you know you’re not batty, bonkers or berserk. You’re eccentric.

Any one of these five gonging a bell in your head and heart? If so, guess what. Yep. You’re a writer. Don’t worry, though. In this day of political correctness, no one will dare label you a nutjob for fear of a lawsuit.

But that wasn’t always the case…(cue shameless new release teaser). In my upcoming novel, A HEART DECEIVED, the topic of insanity is explored in historical detail…

Miri Brayden teeters on a razor's edge between placating and enraging her brother, whom she depends upon for support. Yet if his anger is unleashed, so is his madness. Miri must keep his descent into lunacy a secret, or he'll be committed to an asylum—and she'll be sent to the poorhouse.

Ethan Goodwin has been on the run all of his life—from family, from the law ... from God. After a heart-changing encounter with the gritty Reverend John Newton, Ethan would like nothing more than to become a man of integrity—an impossible feat for an opium addict charged with murder.

When Ethan shows up on Miri's doorstep, her balancing act falls to pieces. Both Ethan and Miri are caught in a web of lies and deceit—fallacies that land Ethan in prison and Miri in the asylum with her brother. Only the truth will set them free.

So when you need a break from your story world, pick up A HEART DECEIVED, available by David C. Cook and at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and ChristianBook.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Welcome to the Asylum... Treatment for the Mentally Ill and Other Horrific Politically Incorrect Practices of Yesteryear

In the eighteenth century, medical care for the mentally ill was both a remedy and a punishment. What went on behind the ivy-covered walls of most mental institutions makes One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest seem like a five-star hotel stay.

Granted, the majority of doctors really were trying their best to help their patients, but a many of their practices only made things worse. Here’s a sampling of what might happen to you…

Spinning

Think of riding a crazed merry-go-round on steroids. Feeling queasy? This was worse. The “Swinging Chair” is a contraption designed to spin the patient at high speed, which would induce vomiting, bladder evacuation, and eventually lull the poor little buddy into a tranquilized state of mind.

Trephining

Ever had a really bad headache? Just thinking about this course of treatment makes my brain hurt. Trephining is an early form of lobotomy and was actually the first psychosurgery procedure to change socially unacceptable behaviors. Without getting too gory, just picture a huge drill bit hovering a breath away from your skull—only it doesn’t hover for long, if you know what I mean.

Shock Treatment

There’s nothing electrical about this kind of shocking treatment. The patient was left blindfolded on a platform, waiting, and waiting, and then bam! Suddenly the platform falls and he plunges into a tub of icy water, which was intended to shock the brain back into normalcy. Noise shock treatment was used as well, wherein an individual was again blindfolded and then without warning, a cannon behind them was shot off.

Besides these three, there was the usual bloodletting, purging, binding, and the attempt at good ol’ hypnosis. All this to say, an asylum was best avoided if at all possible—which is exactly what the heroine in my latest release, A HEART DECEIVED, is trying to do…

Miri Brayden teeters on a razor's edge between placating and enraging her brother, whom she depends upon for support. Yet if his anger is unleashed, so is his madness. Miri must keep his descent into lunacy a secret, or he'll be committed to an asylum—and she'll be sent to the poorhouse.

Ethan Goodwin has been on the run all of his life—from family, from the law ... from God. After a heart-changing encounter with the gritty Reverend John Newton, Ethan would like nothing more than to become a man of integrity—an impossible feat for an opium addict charged with murder.

When Ethan shows up on Miri's doorstep, her balancing act falls to pieces. Both Ethan and Miri are caught in a web of lies and deceit—fallacies that land Ethan in prison and Miri in the asylum with her brother. Only the truth will set them free.


Fortunately, the mental health industry has come a long way since then, but if you’d like a glimpse into the roots of present day psychiatric care, pick up a copy of A HEART DECEIVED, a timeless tale of love, lies and redemption.

A HEART DECEIVED is available by David C. Cook and at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and ChristianBook.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Can I Go Home Now?

Take my advice...just donate your stuff to Goodwill instead of having a garage sale.


Thursday, August 15, 2013


Love the arts? Music, theater, film, sock puppets, fingerpainting and yes...PUBLISHING! Writers, sit up on your hind legs and perk your ears because this just might be a paying venue for you to check out, as in moolah, as in you won't have to eat Ramen Noodles for each and every meal.

Kickstarter is a site of projects, big and small, that need support, such as, oh, let's say an author who would like a bit of money to eat while writing said book.

You simply develop a project and submit it. A project is something with a clear end, like a novel, or an anthology, or a biography on Big Foot (assuming you can find him -- try the Pacific Northwest). One stipulation: no self-help books. I know. That's kind of a quirky disclaimer, but hey, it's their website and they can do what they want.

You decide how much money you'd like to raise, START your project, then advertise like crazy. Let others know you've got a project so they can pledge some money. There's a deadline, so if you don't meet the revenue goal you set, you're a loser and out of the game. But if you do make your goal, ding-ding-ding-ding-ding! You get the money, minus a small percentage to pay to Kickstarter, to finish your project.

If this has piqued your interest, hop on over to Kickstarter and check it out. Even if you don't have a project in mind, you might get an idea, or you might want to support a project that's already there.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Island of Misfit Authors

There's got to be a sweet space between the matter and anti-matter of CBA/ABA fiction. I'm just not sure where it is or how to get there. Maybe if I plug my nose and jump through a wormhole in the time/space continuum? Unless that angers the energy gods and messes up the ol' microwave. I'm not sure.

Anyway, yesterday an author buddy of mine chatted with me about the tepid sales of realistic/gritty/sensuous/dark/non-sweet-or-Amish historical titles. What's up with that? Are dinner parties and balls really all that exciting? I think not, but I very well may not be the norm. Okay, so I'm not at all, but doggone if I'm not revved up about reading ABA steamy sex scenes. Not. One. Bit.

Which leaves me and a few other Christian historical writers on Misfit Island. Blue-haired Baptists don't want to read our fare (don't bunch up your undies...I go to a Baptist church...yes, every Sunday and Wednesday so I know what I'm talking about). And neither would a non-believer pick up an overtly "God is my helper" story.

There is one genre, however, that I've taken note of lately that's not afraid to push boundaries way past buggy rides and peck-on-the-cheek kisses...Young Adult. I'm beginning to suspect that maybe, just maybe, this is the hidey hole where gripping Christian historical fiction might be able to gain a foothold.

I'll have to dig around in this idea and see what I unearth. Want to pull out your shovel and get dirty along with me? Goodreads has a list of the Best Young Adult Christian Fiction Books. Let's read a few and see what we uncover.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Reading Aromatherapy

I've been breathing in a lot of putrid stenches lately. And yes, I have showered, thank you very much, so it's not coming from my general direction. Summer heat simply has a way of squeezing out the stink in anything and everything. But it got me to thinking...what kind of smells do I associate with certain books?

Jane Eyre brings to mind the bergamot twang of Earl Grey Tea. Atlas Shrugged the mothball odor of creosote oozing out of railroad ties. I ascribe the Bath & Body Works Sweet Pea fragrance to Nancy Drew books. Francine Rivers' Redeeming Love is definitely a mix of jasmine and those curly little black snakes kids burn on the 4th of July (and hey, guess what...you can actually make your own black snakes here).

Think back on some of your favorite reads. What scents would you assign them? Share what your nose knows in the comment section.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Close Enough for Government Work

"Artists who seek perfection in everything
are those who cannot attain it
in anything."
~ Eugene Delacroix (1798-1863)

Want to know the secret formula to writing a book? It's pretty simple, really, and hopefully Nike won't be all up in my business for using these 3 words in a row... Just do it. Sit down and write the dang story, then cut the umbilical cord and send your baby out into the world.

It's not about perfection. Are babies perfect when they first come out? The mother always thinks so but seriously? With all that cottage cheesey stuff in the cracks and a red, squished up face?

The thing is, you'll never write the perfect book because--newsflash--you're not perfect. All you can do is use the tools in your writerly toolbox to craft the best piece of writing that you know how to pen.

If perfection is your goal, you'll never finish a manuscript, so wad up all your perfectionistic ideals and lob them into the garbage can.

Then get writing.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Question Jar Take #378

What questions will I answer today? It's the luck of the draw my friends. Watch and be amazed.


And as always, feel free to leave me new questions to toss into the jar for the next time I pull it out.


Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Zit on the End of My Nose

www.freedigitalphoto.net
We've all been there...the big event on your calendar...the one you're uber excited about. The one you'll do anything for to look your absolute best.

So, you eat nothing but carrots for a week to fit into the dress you splurged on that's two sizes too small. You get your lip waxed, nose hairs trimmed, and matchy-matchy manicure/pedicure nails. For once, your hair is cut to perfection, and you've successfully elbowed out of way an elderly woman who was going to snatch the cutest shoes you've ever seen in your life to score a pair of black pumps for a mere $29.99. Yes, indeed. Everything is going as planned. All the planets are aligned. There is peace in the Middle East. You even read on Drudge that the lion has laid down with the lamb. Life is good.

And then it happens.

A half hour before the public shindig, an enormous red pimple erupts like Mount Vesuvius, front and center on your schnoz. You stare into the mirror. Horrified. Whimpering. Pretty sure this is the end of life as you know it because doggone if everyone's gaze is going to zero in on the mother of all blemishes, scarring your reputation forever and ever. Amen.

Cue the death march.

Yeah, so that's exactly what a crappy review feels like, especially when it's a review that has nothing to do with your writing expertise. It simply has to do with a reader who doesn't like your genre and honestly shouldn't have picked up the book in the first place.

Those kinds of reviews used to burrow under my skin like a guinea worm (I'll spare you a link...trust me, you don't want to see a picture of that nasty parasite), plaguing me for days, making me consider throwing out my computer and never--EVER--write again.

Not anymore. Now when I read a scathing review, I stand up and applaud. No, I haven't gone nutty-nuts (though some might debate that point). Stabby reviews are actually a Godsend if you look at them with the right attitude.

It's normal to curl into the fetal position and suck your thumb for a few minutes after reading one. Key word: FEW. After that, re-read it for what it is...a warning to other readers of the same ilk to not read your book. That's a good thing! As long as you've got the standard "Bad Review" out there, shining like a beacon to ward off other would-be naysayers of your story type, you'll probably get a lot less fewer slap-you-upside-the-head reviews in the long run.

You tracking with me here? Bad reviews are part of the writing game if you're a good writer. It means you've done something with your wordsmithing to tweak a nerve. For some that feels like pleasure and they'll write a 5 star. To others, it's pain. Either way, you've created a reaction, which is the goal: to make a reader think in a way they've never thought before.

Chances are the people that really love you aren't even going to notice that zit anyway.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Staying One Step Ahead of the Bog Monster

It's no secret that writing a book is a fat lot of work. Enjoyable labor, way better than 72 hours of pushing out a mammal from a space that's normally the size of a dime, but it is labor nonetheless. Every author has a bag of tricks to help get through the first draft of a manuscript. Here's a few of mine...

Take Notes, Einstein
There are so many little details that make up a book, there's no way you can remember them all. Shoot, I can't even remember what it was I was going to make for dinner, even if I left the hamburger on the counter in a drippy red mess to remind me. It's not cheating if you take notes. In fact, it's mandatory. You need to know which garbage can the killer chucked the smoking gun into. Who knows crazy Aunt Alice's combination lock sequence for her chest freezer loaded with pirate dubloons? Where did you leave the freaking bag of Doritos in scene 17?

Any method of note taking is fine. Type them in at the end of your document. Use Scrivener. Plaster the wall with sticky note pads. Whatever works.

Secret Codes
So you're writing along, la-la-la, and wham! Smack head first into an "I don't have a clue what happens next" moment. Should you kill off a character? Introduce a new one? Make the phone ring, the door knock, the dog bark? Some authors use a code to mark those areas, like IDK1, IDK2, and so on. I prefer to use the John Otte method (who's a super fun author you should read). He just plugs in 2 words in those spots and moves on: STUFF HAPPENS.

Try it. Next time you're zipping along and stall out in the story, just write STUFF HAPPENS and go on to the next scene that you know for sure.

Disclaimer: Use this only in case of emergencies or your entire manuscript will consist of those 2 words.

Word Bargains
Everyone's got their pet words. Warm, furry, lovable, and as prolific as Tribbles. Go ahead and let them mate in the first draft just to keep you moving, but keep track of them. If you notice you're using "smile" or "very" or "jingle-jangle" too much, jot them down on a piece of paper and keep going.

It's the second draft where you slash and burn these bargain words you've collected. No matter what you've heard, hoarding is NOT cool. Get rid of them or you'll end up on a reality TV show.

These 3 tricks will help you keep from getting bogged down as you speed along the writing highway to Finished Manuscriptville. Feel free to share some of your own tips in the comment section. There's always room in a writer's bag for one more rabbit.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Microsecond of Fame

For one, single stunning moment, A HEART DECEIVED (yes, the FREE eBook that's still available for the whopping price of FREE -- and you can still get the deal here) skyrocketed to the #1 position in the Christian and Christian historical positions for free Kindle books on Amazon. Yeah. You read that right. Uno...but even better than #1 is #4.

4 is the number causing me to tap dance on the table.

I made it to the 4 slot on the main Kindle list, beating out the President Obama book. I knew his numbers were slipping, but really? Wowzer.

Okay, enough bragging. Pride goes before a fall and all that. It's been fun, but the spotlight doesn't last, plus it has a nasty way of highlighting the cellulite on my thighs. So, time to pick up the ol' pen and get back to work, which means...

Chapter 2 for A Heart Exposed is up at Wattpad here.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Score Your FREE Copy of A HEART DECEIVED


Here it is. This is the day! Two, actually. August 5 & 6 you can download the eBook version of A HEART DECEIVED for zero, zip, nada and I'm-not-kidding-you-NOTHING!

Kindle version HERE

Nook version HERE

And if you'd rather not support a Big Box, you can get it from Christian Book Distributors in all e-reader formats HERE

Go ahead and spread the word. Who doesn't like a freebie?!

Friday, August 2, 2013

No Such Thing as a Free Lunch...Really???

No, I'm not offering you a free meal. Something even better!



Thursday, August 1, 2013

Looking For Something To Do?

What to do with all the unending dog days of August that are about to shake hot droplets of boredom all over you like a St. Bernard who's taken a dip in the lake? Never fear. I'll fill up that calendar for you. Follow me over to Jessica Dotta's Facebook page. She's got a month long launch whoopdedoo going on for her debut novel Born of Persuasion.

Facebook Author Page 
 Who knows...you just might win a copy of my book! But not today. 
Today's giveaway is:

Win This Tea Cup Painting!
 
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