Thursday, June 28, 2012

Checklist for Dialogue

Credit for picture

1. Read it out loud. Does it sound natural? Silted?
2. Be careful not to overuse character's names.
3. Especially in conversations with more than two people, is it always clear who is saying what?
4. Do your characters speak their thoughts? Most people don't. And not all people mean what they say or say what they mean.
5. Keep dialogue tags simple and don't overuse them. Use said or asked. Limit the use of explained, demanded, complained, yelled, etc. If someone is explaining something, it should be obvious they are. The reader won't need to be told that so-and-so explained it. Use the words of your dialogue to show that they are demanding or complaining or yelling. Make your dialogue strong enough to stand on its own.
6. When possible, use an action tag instead of a dialogue tag. For example: "I'm going to walk the dog," he said, picking up the leash. becomes "I'm going to walk the dog." He picked up the leash. (Simple example, I know, but hopefully you know what I mean.)
7. Eliminate small talk and filler words such as how are you? so, like, um, well...

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Question of the Week - Favorite Superheroes

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos
Follow-up question from last week: Who is your favorite superhero and why? Can be from movies or books or comics.

Mine would probably be Thor. Loved the movie. It really exceeded my expectations. Why? Because he started out as an antihero and developed into a kick ass hero.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Weekly Progress Report

 Last wee, hubby and I and the boys went to Atlantic City because hubby had a conference to go to. Boy was that tiring to watch the boys all by myself in a hotel room and on the boardwalk during the day! But it was fun too, and I even managed to get some writing done too.

On Sunday, hubby watched the boys for several hours so I went to B&N and wrote until I finished my zombie fairy tale novella and I even had enough time to start and finish a 3K short story. After receiving feedback from a CP, I sent out the short story for possible inclusion in an anthology. *crosses fingers*

How goes your writing? Your reading? Seen any good movies lately? Are you going on vacation this summer? Where to?

Check out some other great progress reports this week:

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Checklist for Minor Characters

Credit for picture

I'm finally getting back to my normal blogging schedule which means a creature post on Monday, a progress report on Tuesday, a Question on Wednesday, a Checklist on Thursday, and a review on Friday (although I might have guest blogs or interviews or other book news on Tuesday, Thursday, or Friday)

So it's back to a checklist. Today's checklist is specifically for minor characters.

1. Are your minor characters well developed?
2. Are your minor characters essential to the plot?
3. Would the story work if the minor character was deleted? (Note: you should then delete said character or change the story so that this is not the case.)
4. Does the minor character have an important (albeit small) role to play?
5. Does the minor character show up in more than one scene?
6. Is your minor character flat or 2-dimensional?
7. Is your minor character a caricature?
8. Does your minor character steal the scene away from the main characters? (This is not good, although it can help to create spin offs or sequels.)
9. Is your minor character's action and speech consistent throughout the story?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Question of the Week - Superheroes

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos
If you could create a superhero, what would your superhero be able to do? Would he be an alien like Superman? Have special powers like Spiderman? Be really rich and have super cool gadgets like Iron Man and Batman? Or would you create a superheroine?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

All the Broken Pieces Cover Reveal and Excerpt

I'm excited today to be part of the cover reveal for Cindi Madsen's book, All the Broken Pieces.

Blurb: What if your life wasn’t your own?Liv comes out of a coma with no memory of her past and two distinct, warring voices inside her head. Nothing, not even her reflection, seems familiar. As she stumbles through her junior year, the voices get louder, insisting she please the popular group while simultaneously despising them. But when Liv starts hanging around with Spencer, whose own mysterious past also has him on the fringe, life feels complete for the first time in, well, as long as she can remember.  Liv knows the details of the car accident that put her in the coma, but as the voices invade her dreams, and her dreams start feeling like memories, she and Spencer seek out answers. Yet the deeper they dig, the less things make sense. Can Liv rebuild the pieces of her broken past, when it means questioning not just who she is, but what she is?

As an added bonus, Entangled Publishing has shared an excerpt:

Olivia reached up, feeling the tender spots on her head. Her fingers brushed across a row of—were those little ridges made of metal?
            “Careful. The staples are almost ready to come out, but it’s still going to be sore for a while.”
            Staples?!Her stomach rolled. I have staples in my head? She lowered her now-shaking hand. “Can I get a mirror?”
            Mom looked at Dad, then back at her. “I don’t think that’s a good idea. Not until you’ve healed a little more.”
            Mom patted Olivia’s leg. “You just relax. We’ll be back in a few minutes.”
            The two of them left the room, but when Mom swung the door closed, it didn’t latch. Olivia could hear their voices in the hall.
            “I still think we should…” She couldn’t make out the rest of Dad’s muffled words. “…know if I can do this.”
            “…late for that,” Mom said. “We’d lose everything, including…” Her voice faded as they got farther away. “…have to move.”
Olivia could tell the conversation was tense, but the words were impossible to decipher now. Holding a hand in front of her face, she turned it back and forth. A plastic tube ran from her arm to a machine next to her bed. She peeked into her nightgown and stared in horror at the long red stripe running down her chest.
            You’re alive. You shouldn’t be thinking about looks.
            Lowering her hand, she scanned the room. I wonder how my face looks. From the way Dad stared at me, plus the fact Mom won’t let me see a mirror, it must be bad.
            Brains are more important than looks.
            That’s what ugly people say.
            Olivia put her hands on her head and squeezed. “Stop it,” she whispered to her arguing thoughts, hysteria bubbling up and squeezing the air from her lungs. What was happening to her? Why didn’t she recognize her parents or know where she was? Who she was? Tears ran warm trails down her cheeks. “Just make it all stop.”
All the Broken Pieces, by Cindi Madsen is available for pre-order on:  AmazonBarnes & Noble Be sure to add it to your TBR pile on Goodreads

Friday, June 15, 2012

Jessica Bell's Fabric

FabricToday I'm celebrating the release of Jessica Bell's new poetry collection, Fabric ... Wait! Please don't close the tab at the the mention of poetry! Trust me, just read a little note from the author herself before deciding to disappear ...

Jessica says:
My poetry will not baffle you with phrasing that scholars award for academic genius and that can only be understood by those who wrote it. My poetry is for the everyday reader. In fact, it is even for those who don’t like to read poetry at all. Because it is real, stark and simple.

The poems in Fabric are no different. They explore specific moments in different people’s lives that are significant to whom they have become, the choices they’ve made. It’s about how they perceive the world around them, and how each and every one of their thoughts and actions contributes to the fabric of society. Perhaps you will even learn something new about yourself.

So, even if you do not usually read poetry, I urge you to give this one a go. Not because I want sales (though, they are fun!), but because I want more people to understand that not all poetry is scary and complex. Not all poetry is going to take you back to high school English, and not all poetry is going make you feel “stupid”.

You can still say to people that you don’t read poetry … I really don’t mind. Because if you read Fabric, you’re not reading poetry, you’re reading about people. And that’s what reading is about, yes? Living the lives of others?
Are you still here? I hope so!

Please support the life of poetry today by spreading the news about Fabric. Hey, perhaps you might even like to purchase a copy for yourself? The e-book is only $1.99 and the paperback $5.50.

Here are the links:

Let's keep poetry alive! Because not all poetry is "dead" boring ...

About Jessica Bell:

If Jessica Bell could choose only one creative mentor, she’d give the role to Euterpe, the Greek muse of music and lyrics. And not because she currently lives in Greece, either. The Australian-native author, poet and singer/songwriter/guitarist has her roots firmly planted in music, and admits inspiration often stems from lyrics she’s written.

She is the Co-Publishing Editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and co-hosts the Homeric Writers' Retreat & Workshop on the Greek Isle of Ithaca, with Chuck Sambuchino of Writer’s Digest.

For more information about Jessica Bell, please visit:


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Never Surrender Blog Fest

Today's post is courtesy of Elana Johnson's Never Surrender Blog Fest to celebrate the release of her sophomore novel, Surrender. Possession was awesome and I'm sure Surrender will be too.

About the blogfest: 
All you have to do is blog about a time you didn't surrender. Trained for a marathon? Queried agents? Had to study for an entrance exam? I'm looking for inspirational stories that you have experienced. Hard things you've accomplished because you didn't give up. I want to be inspired by you!

Anyone who blogs this week for the theme can enter to win one of three $15 B&N gift cards. Everyone who blogs this week will receive a SURRENDER swag package.

Don’t blog? Put the cover of Surrender up on your FB wall, or pin it on Pinterest, or change your twitter avatar to the cover. Use the words “Never Surrender” somewhere to go with the picture, and link back to this post.

Sign up in this form to make sure you get the swag package. Elana will visit each blog to read your inspirational "never surrender" moments. Sign your blog up to participate in the Never Surrender blogfest linklist below. 

When have I never surrendered?

 I've always wanted to be a writer. Always. I still remember the first story I wrote. It was an awful and complete mess but I had been so proud of it! It had been all of five pages too, if I remember correctly.

The first full length novel that I wrote I started in the 6th grade. Literally wrote some of it during class. Sh, don't tell my mom.

It took me forever to finish it, mostly because I took long breaks from it (read: years). I ended up not finishing it until almost nine years later. It took me FOREVER but I was done.

I edited it and polished it and sent out queries. Lots of queries. Lots of rejections.

So I edited and polished it some more. Posted my query several places for feedback. Some authors mentioned that they thought the premise was more MG than YA.

Had an online pitch session with an agent. Agent suggested the same thing.

Took the suggestion to heart. Rewrote the story as MG.

Edited, polished. Wrote other stories. Actually, wrote other stories throughout the entire process. Had some of the other stories published. 

I haven't started to query this particular story more yet because although I'm calling it upper MG, I think parts of it are still reading as YA, not MG. It's not ready yet. I know now that the agents had been right to reject the story I had sent them. It wasn't ready yet. It's still not. I won't make the same mistake of querying a story before it's ready again.

Will this story ever see the light of day? I hope so. It means so much to me. But I realize now that it might not be the one to get me an agent and I'm ok with that. I have more stories to write. And I can write much faster now. Twice now, I've written a 80K novel in one month.

Somewhere along the way, I became a writer.

Never give up on your dreams. Never surrender. To say you only die once is a lie. If you give up on your dreams before you achieve them, a part of you has already died.

When have you never surrendered?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Question of the Week - Exercise

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos
Do you like to exercise?

I'm an oddball - I do. I enjoy exercising. Right now, hubby and I are doing Insanity - a hardcore cardio workout program that lasts for two months. It's tough but fun.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Guest Blog Post with Heather Topham Wood - 10 Tips to Becoming the Best Writer You Can Be plus Review and Excerpt of First Visions

10 Tips to Becoming the Best Writer You Can Be

Here are a few tips that really helped me as I wrote First Visions. Some of the tips you may have heard time and time again, but they really do work.

Tune Out Everyone’s Voice in Your Head
I unfortunately put way too much thought in what other people think. This can really make your story suffer if you’re constantly wondering over other’s reactions. Don’t be afraid to take risks. Even if it doesn’t work out, at least you know you put yourself out there.

Get Organized
Whether you’re old school and use a notebook for organizational purposes or rely on a program like Scrivener, staying organized while writing can be extremely helpful. As an example, I keep both an outline and character descriptions close at hand while I write for quick reference.

Just Write
If you obsess over every single word you put on paper, you may end up sacrificing some of your creative energy. This is where free writing exercises can be very helpful. Browse writer’s blogs and you’re bound to come upon some free writing topics and exercises you can tackle.

Don’t Be Afraid to Hit the Delete Button
Getting rid of stuff that just isn’t working is a must. Don’t be afraid to cut huge chunks out of your novel. Save each previous draft and if end up having use for the scenes down the road, so be it.

Walk Away for Awhile
I once heard a reference that writers have a tendency to have beer goggles on while writing. You may love every single word you write one night, but then wake up the morning and wonder what the hell you were thinking. Fresh perspective can definitely help you become the best writer possible.

Don’t Lose Yourself in the Editing Process
Feedback can be very helpful in the writing process, but opinions are subjective. What works for one reader may not for another. Although you may be inclined to change certain aspects based on a single opinion, wait until you get more input. As an example, an editor I spoke with wanted me to make my main character in First Visions “nicer” and gave me examples of what a “good” woman would and would not do. I think if I followed her advice, I would’ve ended up with a dreadfully boring story.

Show Don’t Tell
This is probably one of the helpful pieces of advice I received during the editorial process. Use dialogue and the character’s actions keep the story moving. Wordy descriptions can end up hurting the pace of your novel.

Read Everything You Can Possibly Get Your Hands On
My husband will laugh at me when he sees me reading a trashy magazine or book and I tell him I’m working. Being well read can enhance your vocabulary, improve your grammar and help you find inspiration for your work.

Stick to a Routine
I have two boys under five which makes finding the time to write exceedingly difficult. Each night after they go to bed, even if I’m not in the mood, I’ll write at least something.

Get Rid of the Distractions
I’ll be in the middle of writing a pivotal scene when all of a sudden my phone will ring or my inbox will chime. Or I’ll receive a text from my sister stating I have to go on Facebook right now and look at this raunchy picture posted by so and so. A good piece of advice I heard before is to write on a computer without internet access.

Two years ago, 21-year-old Kate Edwards became deathly ill and slipped into a coma. While unconscious, she crept into the mind of a missing boy and awoke with the knowledge of his location. Friends and family were skeptical and wary of her new ability to see into the minds of others. Their fears prompted Kate to keep her psychic powers a secret. Feeling alienated, she dropped out of college and spent most of her days holed up at her mother’s home.

Now another child has been abducted. Police detective Jared Corbett seeks out Kate for her help in solving the case. Reluctantly, Kate agrees and they must work together to bring 8-year-old Cori Preston home to her family. Although attracted to one another, Jared has a girlfriend with ties to the abduction case and Kate is sarcastic and guarded since her coma. With visions she can’t control and an uncontrollable attraction to the detective, she wonders if she can leave the past behind and finally stop hiding from the world. Otherwise, Cori may be lost forever.

Nicole's Review: 

 I enjoyed this story. I especially enjoyed Kate. Her voice was spot on. I also liked Jared's character. The hint of the paranormal with her psychic powers was a great touch. I loved how everything was tied up at the end but there's room for more stories to. A delightful, sweet read. Overall, this was a very good book.

Book Excerpt:

Jared picks up Kate when she becomes stranded after a disastrous date:

Kate shifted in her seat and wondered how much she should confess about her night with Sebastian. Her inebriated tongue may end up revealing too much to Jared and she could find herself admitting how she couldn’t stand to kiss Sebastian because she was falling for him.

Jared seemed to speculate her discomfort could be over some sort of impropriety on Sebastian’s part. She saw his muscles tense as he said, “Kate, please tell me I don’t have to turn this car around and murder this Sebastian kid.”

She shook her head. “No, it was fine. I guess we were kind of on a date. I just wasn’t comfortable with how much he had to drink and where he wanted to take things.” She gave him a dazzling smile before continuing with her explanation. “See, you saved me in more ways than one tonight. My mother is the queen of thank you notes. So, don’t be surprised to receive one from her that displays her appreciation for keeping her daughter’s body and chastity safeguarded.”   

He gave her a long look and she began to guess at how terrible she appeared. She hadn’t checked out a mirror in a long time and Sebastian’s moves on her probably made her resemble someone who recently had a roll in the hay.

“I should get you home,” he said at last. He was pulled out of his reverie and began to drive out of the parking lot.

She sank back into the leather seat and relaxed into the moment. Riding in his personal car in the middle of the night seemed to heighten the intimacy she felt developing between them. She still felt a buzz from the alcohol and his closeness was doing strange things to her. Something was nagging at her and she questioned whether she should disclose anything to him. Her tongue felt loose and she allowed the words to spill out of her mouth. After letting out an exaggerated sigh, she whispered, “I had a vision about you.” 

It was silent for a long moment. His voice didn’t reveal much as he inquired, “You did?”

“It was your first day of kindergarten. You were dressed in Transformers stuff practically head to toe. You were calling yourself Optimus Prime.” She giggled loudly as she visualized Jared as a punk kindergartener.

His silence provoked her to go on and she shut her eyes to recall the vision. “I saw your mother and she was…” she trailed off before saying, “beautiful. Like amazingly so—with not one single flaw. You look like her, you know? Your father was there too and he was snapping pictures of you and her. You were nervous about school and she got down on her knees and told you to not worry. Just close your eyes and she would be there holding your hand.”

Finally opening her eyes, she shifted to face him. “It felt like she sensed that she would die young. Jared, she wanted you to remember she’d always be there for you.”

Kate swallowed hard when she saw how upset Jared looked. His features were tight and the dashboard illuminated moisture in his eyes. “Jared, I’m sorry…” she started, but her sentiment trailed off when he pulled the car over to the side of the road suddenly. Looking around, she realized they were at the end of her street.

He jumped out of the car and placed his hands behind his head. She watched him pace in front of the hood of the BMW for a minute before she slowly exited the vehicle. Approaching him cautiously, Kate asked softly, “Jared? What’s wrong?”

He produced a half laugh and half sobbing sound. “I don’t know, Kate, everything’s wrong. I mean, what are you doing here?”

“What do you mean?” she asked leaning against the hood.

Jared rarely seemed to lose his cool and it made her apprehensive about how he could be feeling. Was he agitated because of the vision? Or was he feeling something for her and he didn’t know how to deal with it?

“I like you, I do, but maybe we’ve been spending too much time together. It’s probably not a good idea for us to be as close as we’re becoming,” Jared said without meeting her eyes.

“I’m sorry I told you about the vision,” she apologized. As she positioned her body closer to him, she raised her voice in agitation. “I warned you this would happen. You’re obviously freaked out that I saw such a cherished memory of your mother. I would’ve never gone into your head if I could’ve stopped it! My visions are usually horrible, I only wanted to share with you that you gave me one of the best ones I ever had.”

“Kate, it’s not about your vision. It’s freaking incredible that you were able to see my parents as if they were still alive. I thought it would be fine for us to be friends, but…”

“But you know I want you?” she asked in her most seductive voice. The way he was protesting made her confident that he was finding it as impossible as she was to fight off their attraction. Putting her hands on her hips and sticking out her chest, she was hoping her sudden loss of inhibitions would pay off with a kiss from him.

Jared stood in front of her and grabbed her by the shoulders. His eyelids were lowered and he moistened his lips. The pull was undeniable and it felt completely natural to close her eyes and move to his mouth for a kiss.

Suddenly, his grip tightened and he said in a husky voice, “Kate, no.”

Author Bio
Heather Topham Wood graduated from the College of New Jersey in 2005 and holds a bachelor’s degree in English. Working full-time as a freelance writer for publications such as
USA Today,, Outlook by the Bay and Step in Style magazine, she writes fiction novels in her spare time. She resides in Trenton, New Jersey with her husband and two sons.

First Visions is the first novel in the Second Sight Series.

Follow Heather on Twitter and her blog to keep posted on her upcoming works:



*Disclosure of Material Connection: I am a member of Reading Addiction Blog Tours and a copy of this book was provided to me by the author. Although payment may have been received by Reading Addiction Blog Tours, no payment was received by me in exchange for this review. There was no obligation to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own and may not necessarily agree with those of the author, publisher, publicist, or readers of this review. This disclosure is in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision’s 16 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning Use of Endorcements and Testimonials in Advertising*

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Pitch Opportunity from Dorothy Dreyer

Dorothy Dreyer is having a Three Two One Pitch contest. Three - Pitch your story in only three sentences. Two days to enter - June 7th and 8th. One agent - Natalie Lakosil of the Bradford Literary Agency - is the judge. I already entered. Click here for the contest post and enter yourself! Good luck!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Question of the Week - Punishment

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos
Would you rather spend the rest of your life in prison or be executed?

Probably executed.
I took a personality quiz that asked which Disney villain did you hate the most. My answer, Maleficent, meant that I can't stand being controlled, to have my freedom stripped. Which is true and I guess that's why I would pick execution.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Weekly Progress Report

It's been a little while since I've given an update so I thought I would make sure to update today!

For the most part, I've been editing and editing and editing. Earlier this week, I started a novella - a zombie fairy tale. I'm having a ton of fun writing it. It's great to be writing again!

How goes your writing? Your reading? Seen any good movies lately? I saw Snow White and the Huntsman. I enjoyed it! Hubby liked it too, even more than I did. What have you been up to?

Check out some other great progress reports this week:

Friday, June 1, 2012

Guest Blog with Patty Froese - Tight skin, sparkling eyes and gums that don't recede

Tight skin, sparkling eyes and gums that don't recede
By Patty Froese

I'm in my mid-thirties. A few days ago my husband's cousins arrived in Canada from Africa, and we've been going about helping them settle in. They are really delightful people in their very early twenties, all good looking and optimistic.
                I remember being twenty and looking at people in their mid-thirties. I thought one of two things. A: "I will never look that old. I will be much cooler." Or B: "I can't even imagine being that old."
                Well, here I am! And I realized as I chatted with my husband's young cousins that I'm that "older woman" to them. I'm the one they chat with and think, "I will never get to be like that." It's okay, though, because at the place I am now, I look at people in their forties and think the exact same thing. That will never be me. Until I went shopping for a pair of jeans at Winner's the other day and tried on a pair of "mom jeans..." You know the kind, high waisted and totally comfortable. I didn't buy them, because I'm still determined to be young and hip no matter how much I hate having my rear end squeezed into restrictive denim, but I heard the siren call...
                Aging takes us all by surprise. In my head, I still look like a twenty-year-old, and I don't imagine that is going to change much. In my head, I'm also a much cooler woman than I am in person. I have the right things to say. I can cast a scathing look that looks regal instead of just scowly. I'm also about twenty pounds lighter in my imagination.
                Novel writing suits me because it encourages my delusions. I was always one of those kids who could live in the novels I was reading, and when I discovered I could write those novels and create whatever reality I wanted to, I felt almost drunk with delight. Of course, back then I kept writing myself older, and now I'm doing the reverse.
                Truth be told, I don't want to go back in time. I'm wiser now, and that's worth the price of some skin elasticity. I'm also a better writer now, and that's exciting to me. I don't want to move backwards, I want to keep marching forward, getting steadily better at what I do.  And what do I do? I delve into my delusions and drag you with me. It's fun in my head. We say the right things. We're filled with attitude and snappy come backs. We're irresistible and we fall in love again and again. In my head, our skin is tight and our eyes are sparkling. Our gums go all the way down on our teeth, without that sensitive part right at the top...
                It's nice in my head.

Patty Froese's most recent novel, Perfect on Paper, was released in April 2012. She's a novelist and a blogger. You can find her online at her blog,, or on Facebook (
Blurb for Perfect on Paper:

Anne Stanborough, a well known mystery writer, inherits her maiden aunt's book store, Perfect on Paper. The lawyer handling her aunt's estate is none other than the handsome Jake Harrison, but despite his attraction to the beautiful author, his painful divorce has made him wary of a marriage between two driven professionals. Anne can't let go of the career she's worked her entire life towards, and he isn't willing to make a second mistake in marriage. It looks like they should call the whole thing off until Anne discovers that her late maiden aunt might not have been so "maiden" after all… A love story from the past tugs this couple back together again, but will it be enough to prove that a love founded in God really can overcome anything?