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Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge: The Incubus’ Tale

Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge: The Incubus’ Tale published on 2 Comments on Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge: The Incubus’ Tale

Incubus Chuck Wendig gave us ten titles, one thousand words and one week to post on his latest flash fiction challenge. Here’s mine:

The Incubus’ Tale

“Still, if some are occasionally begotten from demons, it is not from the seed of such demons, nor from their assumed bodies, but from the seed of men, taken for the purpose; as when the demon assumes first the form of a woman, and afterwards of a man; just so they take the seed of other things for other generating purposes.”~Saint Thomas Aquinas

The wind rushed unrelenting over the parched land whirling the topsoil into a stinging whorl of fine sand and I hang back into the door jam. The sound of it was horrible, like the wail of demons joining in an awful chorus. I’ve shivered and gathered my cloak around me.

But I stand in quiet vigil. There was a note on my table by the gray stone fireplace. It said, “I will be there soon. Wait.”Continue reading Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge: The Incubus’ Tale

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Five Ways to Use #Twitter To Grow Your Author’s Platform (With Examples)

Five Ways to Use #Twitter To Grow Your Author’s Platform (With Examples) published on 4 Comments on Five Ways to Use #Twitter To Grow Your Author’s Platform (With Examples)

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Twitter Logo
Ah. Twitter. One hundred and forty characters two hundred and eighty characters of writely goodness. When I started blogging, oh back in the dark ages of blogging seven years ago, Twitter was just a toddler. At the time I was signing up for every platform possible to get my blog Astrology Explored noticed. When I encountered Twitter, which at the time defined itself as microblogging, I scratched my head. What the heck is one hundred forty characters good for?

I was so wrong.

Now, I admit to flailing around Twitter for a number of years so that it took this long for my astrology twitter Starrynightastr to reach one thousand one hundred and forty-three followers. I was quite proud of this until my son laughed at me with his two twitter accounts and over three thousand followers.

Twitter now stands is one of two de rigeur social media platforms nearly every writer uses. So much that new writers, once they set up their blogs run to twitter to set up their account. But now you have it, what do you do to make your followers grow?

What do you do to get followers on your team?Continue reading Five Ways to Use #Twitter To Grow Your Author’s Platform (With Examples)

Chuck Wendig’s Synopsis Challenge

Chuck Wendig’s Synopsis Challenge published on No Comments on Chuck Wendig’s Synopsis Challenge

Mindbender sm We all have to do them sometimes. The synopsis, the story outline, plus some, that an agent or publisher or heaven’s forbid, a work for hire buyer, will demand. Chuck in his doubtful wisdom has demanded, with threat of bug zapping violence, that we produce them for our NaNo project in November. Only I won’t participate this year, not because I don’t want to, but because in a week I’ll have my chest cracked open and have open heart surgery. (Please, it’s not that dramatic anymore, just incredibly painful, but I digress.) I highly doubt I’ll be doing much for the month of November except stare vacantly at a television screen while painkillers produce some very interesting interpretations of visual cues. But one can pre-plan just in case I get tired of reruns of Supernatural and decide to work the keyboard. And the project I choose is to add to my long suffering WIP Mindbender, which at 55,000 words is just a bit short of completion. Okay, a lot short, and while I don’t think I’m going to add more than 30,000 words, it needs the work. So, without further ado is my synopsis of same:


Main Protagonists:

Rangle A’ven—head of A’ven Enterprises, the most powerful mercantile entity in the Kyn Empire

Kelleen Rynin—A’ven’s wife, a woman with secrets of her own.

Dr. Henry James—the son of Jim James, a member of the inner advisory circle to the EmperorContinue reading Chuck Wendig’s Synopsis Challenge

Scrivener’s Shot Gun Wedding With Pro-Writing Aid

Scrivener’s Shot Gun Wedding With Pro-Writing Aid published on 11 Comments on Scrivener’s Shot Gun Wedding With Pro-Writing Aid

Shotgun wedding My most useful writing tools are Scrivener and Pro-Writing Aid. Most writers have heard of Scrivener, a powerful word processing program that orders and organizes the screaming voices in your writer’s head, helping you to pump out your stories. There are too many features in this program to write about, though the number of features is what turns some writers away.

But having found the most productive way (for me) to use Scrivener, I won’t write in anything else.

Pro-Writing Aid is an online program that helps you with the grunt work of editing your stories. Want a swift and sure way to edit your punctuation? Find the repeat words in your stories? Keep track of overly long sentences? Tell you how many filler words you are using? Pro-Writing Aid does it and does it well. The yearly sixty bucks I spend for it is well worth the money.

The only problem with Pro-Writing Aid was that there was no interface between it and Scrivener. You shifted between your text and the analysis to make your edits. This was a long, slow and boring process.Continue reading Scrivener’s Shot Gun Wedding With Pro-Writing Aid

The Art of #Writing: How To Finish a Book

The Art of #Writing: How To Finish a Book published on 1 Comment on The Art of #Writing: How To Finish a Book

The Secret To Writing Now, not to disparage those writers that have spent the last four decades polishing their magnum opus, but there comes a time to finish a book. Like a relationship gone bad, it’s a bit ripe and it’s time to move on already. Aren’t there other stories you want to explore? Don’t you have a folder of story ideas that are weeping for your attention. You know there is. So how to do it?

Now confession time. I’m sitting on my high horse here, even though I’m one of though aforementioned authors. But things have changed for me in writing land as I’ve taken on some ghostwriting projects, (because you know, a girl’s gotta eat) and nothing is a daunting as writing up someone else’s ideas on a schedule. A very tight schedule. It’s the type of schedule where you mess around all weekend and come Monday you have 10,000 words due on Wednesday and you don’t get paid if it doesn’t get done. It’s like doing NaNoWriMo everyday of your life.

To do it you have to have a master plan, as well as a decent typing speed. I’ve developed a strategy that’s helped tremendously. Do you want to hear it? No? Well I’ll tell you anyway.

It starts with Scrivener.

Scrivener is such a useful tool that I’ve never regretted the forty bucks I spent on it. This is unusual for me, because as cheap as I am, I regret spending money on the laundry. Scrivener however, makes writing books fast and easy.

There are always discussions about being an outliner or a pantser, and each writer has his or her style in putting out a story. Using Scrivener doesn’t make a pantser an outliner, but it sure can help you set up your goals into manageable pieces. Instead of looking a blank page you can look at blank folders ready to fill with your writerly goodness.

Step one: decide your word count. Now wait? Doesn’t your story evolve organically? How can you decide a word count? Well the industry does that for you, with different genres having a different word counts that are considered more desirable than others. A romance book can get away with 50,000 to 60,000 words, but a SF epic can’t get away with less than 80,000. Your word count is pre-decided based on your genre. Don’t worry. You’re a writer. You can do this.

Step two: decide how many chapters you want. This is highly dependent on what you are writing. If you are writing short e-books, depending on the word count you will 5 to 10 chapters. Larger works will have more. But if you aiming for 60,000 words, you’ll end up with 20 to 25 chapters. Just pick a number. It’s not set in stone. That’s the beauty of writing. You are working with words, not paint or clay that dry up while you work.

Step three: Divide word count by chapters. Viola, you have target word counts for each chapter.

In Scrivener you will now go and set up folders for each chapter. And after you do that add sections to each folders for scenes. I usually set up three to four scenes per chapter, though again, that’s not set in stone. It is good to add variety to the number of sections you use per chapter. Let your creativity be your guide as you write.

Now, here is the thing that will have you shaking your head. Set a word count for each scene. Yes! You will do exactly that. You’re a writer. You have words to get out and you don’t have time to shift this little thing to that little thing to make a decent chapter. Nope. You are going to do this from the get-go.

Say I’m working on a 10,000 word ebook. Here I’ll set up 5 chapters at 2,000 words each. In each chapter I’ll set the opening scene at 400 words, the second at 1000 and the last at 600. This gives me a frame work to move from chapter to chapter, though if inspiration strikes, that goes out the window. Still I know I’m going to hit the target of 2,000 words for that chapter. So if I’ve got 400 words to fill one section that’s what I’m going to do. It calls on your creativity, and you may get more detailed than you originally intended, but that’s good. Hit 2,000 words, wrap it up, move to the next chapter, wash, rinse, repeat.

It’s how you finish books.

It’s what Chuck Wendig says, write as much as you can, as fast as you can, and finish your stuff!

Editing it. That’s another post.

Happy Writing.

Mug is Chuck Wendig’s Secret to Writing available here.

Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge: Merry’s Christmas Tale

Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge: Merry’s Christmas Tale published on No Comments on Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge: Merry’s Christmas Tale

Hungry_Chris_KittyChuck Wendig’s challenge was to write a piece of holiday horror.

Well, I’ve been busy, really busy, so I’m trotting out a piece I wrote last Christmas for someone’s call for flash submissions. It is the first piece about Merry, who we saw in my piece The Good Girl.

Merry’s Christmas Tale

Merry was only eight but she knew injustice when she saw it. She didn’t deserve to be punished. “Mommy!” she sniffed, tears coming to her eyes, “I did not break the Christmas ornaments!”

“You are always such a bad girl. I don’t know how you did it, Merry, but those ornaments were quite rare. They were grandmother’s you know. Go to your room, while I clean up this mess!”Continue reading Wendig’s Flash Fiction Challenge: Merry’s Christmas Tale

NaNoWriMo Update: Arekan’s War & Pizza Cake

NaNoWriMo Update: Arekan’s War & Pizza Cake published on No Comments on NaNoWriMo Update: Arekan’s War & Pizza Cake

Arekan's War Final med Day 11 into NaNoWriMo at 9,500 words in I am seriously behind. Life happens. Kids have birthdays and there is pizza cake to make.

Why pizza cake? It is a new thing. Some restaurant chain in Canada came up with the idea, and it spread into the U. S. I’m not sure where in the U.S. but my son posted it on his FB page, and I thought I’d give it a try.

There were…uh, challenges to making the pizza cake. First I had to find a high round pan that would handle the beast. Turns out my cheesecake pan is missing, as well as my 8 inch round and 9 inch round cake pans. It is theft, plain and simple, but getting which adult child admit her or she “borrowed” them is nearly useless. I settled on my 8 inch dutch oven. Fortunately, it did the trick.

The recipe called for parchment paper. I thought I had parchment paper, but I was wrong. So, a trip to the grocery store was necessary.

The internet instructions were incomplete. I couldn’t find what temperature set the oven on in the 10 pages of instructions, with pictures, that I printed off. So I winged it and the top got a little brown. Okay, more than a little brown.

Pizza Cake
Pizza cake

Here is the pizza cake and below that the progress of Arekan’s War.

Arekan’s War

When Arekan Mor’a’stan is annoyed, he is likely to do outrageous things, like try to retake the ancient throne lost by his ancestors three hundred years before.

Starting Word Count

Current Word Count


NaNoWriMo Word Count

The Craft of Writing: NaNo In The Morning & Cover Art

The Craft of Writing: NaNo In The Morning & Cover Art published on No Comments on The Craft of Writing: NaNo In The Morning & Cover Art

Arekan's War Art Red smNot being a young person, I wake early, anywhere from 2:00 A.M. to 5:00 A.M. I get much of much of my writing done before the sun shows its perkily cheery face in the morning. I don’t drink coffee for health reasons, so all of this is powered my crazy and insatiable need to write. It’s a good way to start the day, especially after I get a 1,000 words in the old Scrivener file before I head off to the gym, (for health reasons. Lord only knows I don’t enjoy exercise.)

With NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)looming I needed decide on a project. Because I have so many projects going, I have not worked substantially on any Mor’a’stani stories, except to write a short about Arekan (The Rescue of Salyma) which is posted on FWO. The one Mor’a’stani book that was not developed enough to accomodate 50,000 words was Arekan’s War. So Arekan’s trials are my morning diet for the month of November, and I’m quite happy about it.

Arekan Photo RedSo I put up my NaNo page, and even put together some cover art to put up on it. The cover art was thoroughly critiqued by my friends at FWO. Let’s just say I got a real education on peoples preferences in cover art. It also affirmed my 1970’s decision to abandon art school, but that’s another story. I’m surprised any book sells at all considered all the likes and dislikes people have about the images on a cover. A couple people don’t like faces in their cover art, another decried the use of photographs at all, one person said it didn’t say ‘fantasy’ enough. Another remarked the original image (not shown) wasn’t dark or brooding enough. Yet another person said the font I chose looked was too cheery and looked like it belonged on a cereal box. It was all useful information and probably reveals why there is a trend in cover art to abandon these kinds of images all together. Think “Game of Thrones” here and you get the idea.

I spent the first day of NaNo fiddling with the cover, so didn’t get the first 1700 words done until Sunday. So above are a couple versions of my idea for the cover, though I doubt that whether the book is published one way or another the art itself will make it. But heck, I have a cover. Do you?

Cool stuff:

Kevin Hearne, author of the Iron Druid series is updating his own NaNo progress on his Facebook book page. A very genuine man, Kevin pulls no punches on his trials, even though he is well published author.

Chuck Wendig, author of too much stuff to mention, published his NaNo pep talk on his blog Terrible Minds. Looks like he’s going to keep a running conversation on NaNo and writing in general.

Three Creative Commons Photos were used to create this cover:

Mountain by Flickr user ThatswhatIam

Briefly Illuminate Landscape by Mike Lewinski

Hattori Hanzo by Flickr use Stefan Ledwin

All of which were heavily modified as allowed by the Creative Commons Licenses granted as of November 1. 2014.

Book Review: Angeli, The Pirate, The Angel and the Irishman

Book Review: Angeli, The Pirate, The Angel and the Irishman published on No Comments on Book Review: Angeli, The Pirate, The Angel and the Irishman

I was given a book to review, so here goes:

Angeli - The Pirate, the Angel & the IrishmanAngeli – The Pirate, the Angel & the Irishman by Amy Vansant
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was given a free copy by the author in exchange for an honest review.

If it were possible I would give this story three and a half stars.

There are many creative notions in this book. The idea of angels trying to redeem their own kind that had fallen and falling far short of their goal was interesting. I liked the idea of a strong female protagonist. The idea that angels worked their chosen servants without being totally up front with them tracked well. Even though Miss Vansant had many story elements, perhaps too many, she tied them all nicely together by the end.

Brief (and totally unrevealing) synopsis: Anne Bonny had a very brief career as a pirate in the 1700’s and was tapped by the mysterious Angeli, angels to us mortal folk, to work with them to help “reap” angels corrupted by a mysterious disease that turned them evil. But all does not go according to plan, and by the end of the book we find out that something else entirely is going on with the corruption of the angels.

To facilitate her duties, Anne, along with her fellow Sentinels, is given a 1,000 year life span, so by the time her story catches up with present day, she’s only one third into that. But, she might not make it to her thousand years as she seems to be targeted by one of the Perfidia, which is highly unusual for the corrupted beings.

Add to this, not one by two complicated romances and Anne has more than her hands full. One romance is with her Angeli handler, Michael, a very self-assured and even arrogant archangel who is drawn to Anne. Their attraction is complicated by (implied) forbidden nature of their relationship and the fact that Sentinel powers include the ability to drain the life force of angels. Angels can do the same thing to humans, so you can imagine that when these two get up front and personal, real jeopardy is attached. The second relationship is with her fellow Sentinel, Con Carey, a brash Irish lad who was once Anne’s Sentinel trainee. Their relationship is complicated by Con’s unfortunate loss of his body during a particularly troublesome Perfidia reaping. However, instead of going to the great beyond, Con hangs around Anne discorporeally, occasionally hi-jacking an unsuspecting human’s body so he could speak with her. And drink, because, um, Irishmen drink. Con, as you can imagine, is not happy with the present state of affairs, especially with Anne’s on again, off again affair with Michael. Yeah, there is a little tension in the room when Michael and Con are both there.

With all this wonderful stuff, you wonder how things can go wrong in telling this story.

We start this story with Anne’s present day life, then we zip back to her early history, then are fast forwarded 100 years to tell of the aforementioned troublesome reaping, and then fast forwarded to present day. All this time travel gave me a headache, (and pulled me out of the story.) IMO inclusion of key elements to the story could be handled in a less jarring way such as discussion about the events, or even Anne having a traumatic recurring dream about some of the events.

Additionally, there is some overwriting of the prose. Consider this passage:

Anne’s new table guest sat grinning, thin and pale as an untoasted wafer, but with the fiery eyes of a rebellious imp eager to be unleashed. She’d known the minute she heard the accent that the boy’s body had been appropriated by a friend of hers, Con Carey, who had lost his own corporeal body some years ago .

IMO, thin and pale is sufficient, “as an untoasted wafer” is going over the top. The revelation of Con discomporeal nature was handled offhandedly even though he is an important character in the book. And the second sentence is just too long. And it goes on like this through out the book.

Second, I had a difficult time relating to some of the characters, Michael in particular. I couldn’t for the life of me see why Anne would be so hot for him. He seemed too aloof, too arrogant for me to warm to. Con was interesting and he provided some comic relief. One of the most interesting characters was the bad guy, who seem more developed than Anne, Con or Michael. Ironically, he seemed to understand more about the nature of the Universe than the other supposedly more enlightened beings. Sadly, I found the character of Anne just a caricature of the “bad-ass woman” who despite her superpowers had few real insights on her own situation. She was reactive, rather than proactive, acting as a tool for the male characters surrounding her.

Lastly, despite having 32 chapters in the book, the thing just ends without a real resolution. I suppose this is meant as a cliffhanger. But a real cliffhanger has you asking, “but what happens next.” This ending didn’t do that for me.

A great book has me reading beginning to end non-stop. I was able to put this down without problems. Not that it didn’t have fun elements, it did, and it was entertaining. It’s just that it could be better.

View all my reviews

Blogging for Writers: 5 (Sneaky) Places to Get Traffic for Your Blog

Blogging for Writers: 5 (Sneaky) Places to Get Traffic for Your Blog published on 6 Comments on Blogging for Writers: 5 (Sneaky) Places to Get Traffic for Your Blog

Blog! OMG!You’ve got a problem. Oh, you’ve ignored the problem. You tried to tell yourself the problem isn’t such a big deal. You’ve buried yourself in your Facebook page because at least you have friends there.But the problem remains. You have little traffic on your writer’s blog.

Welcome to the internet my friend. You’ve found out the hard way that just having a web page doesn’t lead the reader to drink from the font of your wordsmithery awesomeness. And it hurts even if you don’t admit it. People aren’t reading your posts? Cry you a river. Now do something about it.

What should you do?Continue reading Blogging for Writers: 5 (Sneaky) Places to Get Traffic for Your Blog

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