Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Come Join The Journey

For me, the end of the old year and the beginning of the new isn't so much about making resolutions to change as it is about looking back. I can see what worked, what I learned and what I need to focus more on for next year if I evaluate my writing goals for last year before moving on.
In 2014 I wanted to find a publisher for "Burning Bridger" the stand alone parallel novel to "Killing Casanova". I wanted to write and publish short stories, learn about marketing my current novel and make my writing more lucrative for my family. First and foremost...I wanted to read some great books and write better!
So here's how I did:
"Burning Bridger" will be in publication through Muse It Up publishing Spring/Summer of 2015.Here's a little teaser to let you know what the book's about-"

When twenty-three year old club girl, Lily Pinion survives a brutal rape only to watch her best friend die, she swears off men before retreating to Maui. 
Unfortunately, Maui doesn’t mean safety. When a drunken Lily is assaulted in a Lahaina bar, she is rescued by the battle-scarred ex-Army Ranger, Bridger Jacoby. However, Lily’s tainted experiences with men and alcohol drive her away from Bridger’s heroics. After the man from the bar attempts to gun her down during a tropical storm, she must find a way to rely on Bridger and escape the deadly snare being set to end her life."
Look for updates, a chance to see an advanced copy of the cover and more details about "Burning Bridger on and here on my blog.
-Short Stories- I wrote a few short stories this year, but found my "novel" brain didn't allow me to fit the arc of the story into a few thousand words. This will be an ongoing project for 2015 as I failed miserably in this arena. My search to learn more and write better, especially in this area led me to a couple of helpful blogs and books though.
---Word Painting from
---Marketing secrets for frugal writers by Caroline Howard Johnson
---Save The Cat byBlake Snyder
-Marketing and promoting "Killing Casanova" consisted of book signings and appearances. I spoke and sold copies of my book both at Barnes and Noble and The St. George Book Festival in October as well as being a featured speaker for The Utah State Convention of The National Federation of The Blind before my transplant in May. Due to my surgery and recovery, my marketing and sales efforts will also be an ongoing project through 2015 but my skills on facebook and with my blog are helping to keep me in contact even when my body won't cooperate. I took a blogging 101 course through Writer's Digest and explored Indy Publishing with some writing friends at Indie recon live. Great networking opportunities as well as learning experiences.
-My "forever" project...the urban fantasy I've been writing for five years, got a new beginning and characters thanks to great advice from other authors from all over the nation. Go check out my First Page Blog Hop post in the archives and read the great comments. The advice is invaluable for all writers.
-Blogtalk Radio-Through my hosting of blog tours with The World Of Ink Network, I also co-hosted a few of the radio programs and met some great writers and fantastic people. Kari Kampacas, Brad Wilcox and Jeffrey Olsin to name a few.
-Editing-I trained and went to work for Ink and Quill Press this fall and learned so much about how to clean and tighten my own writing. Through the training I received I also have the opportunity to offer editing and proof reading services for other writers. If you'd like to talk about critiques, editing or proof reading services, contact me at for more details.
Lastly, some of my favorite books this year have been...
-The Beach Trees by Karen White
- I'll Be Watching You, by Tina Wainscoat
-The List, by Melanie Jacobson
and The Good Guy, by Dean Koontz
I read lots of good books and did reviews on the blog so go check out the archives to see what's out there for good reading.
While 2014 was full of ups and downs, new skills and new friends, the one thing that remains from year to year is how much I love writing. I'm still trying to get better and I appreciate all those who've helped along the way.
V. S. Grenier, Alyssa Shrout, Caroline Howard Johnson, Jenny Baliff, Jo Wilkins, Lisa Hafen, and a lot more. 2015 promises to be busy, exciting and most of all great fun. Come join the journey and I'll see you next year!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Unwrapping The Package

Over the last few weeks and months, as I've been editing, writing and learning what I can. I've come across a few choice pieces of advice and resources which have improved my work immensely. As we are only a week away from Christmas I'd like to offer them as a pre-Holiday gift.
#1- The overuse of adjectives- As writers we're taught to bring a scene or character alive by painting a picture and using words to make the reader feel as if they are right there. When writers begin this process of painting with words we can have a tendency to use powerful descriptors which can overwhelm more than paint a picture. One lesson I learned in this area is...In writing 1+1=overkill. If you can say it cleanly, and with a single sentence.Do It!
For example-"Jane swallowed the jagged, softball sized, lump in her throat. She wiped the cold tear, trickling down her cheek, away. Her heart pounded like a caged bird against her rib cage."
Its too much. The reader's mind started to drift back at 'softball sized' Try instead- "The jagged lump lodged in Jane's throat. "wh...Who's th...there?"
We still understand that Jane is scared, but our minds haven't skipped the description of the emotion.
#2. Heavy Adjectives in a single sentence- You've conquered my first suggestion, now you've got to cram all of your pretty words into a single sentence. This is often done to more cleanly paint the picture while muddying the paint. It's also referred to by editors and publishers as 'Purple Prose'. If you're writing literary fiction, this may not apply to you. However if you're writing any other genre, its invaluable.
Example: "Winter's icy wind ran frigid fingers down the man's already stiffened spine."
Did you get a chill from that image? Probably not. The alliteration is nice but the picture is so clunky you almost forget what was happening. Look at this version-
"Icy wind plucked relentlessly at the man's bare flesh."
This sentence has two adjectives, not too many, but pushing the limit. The general rule is to find the most powerful descriptor in the sentence and re-write the sentence using just the single adjective. For more skills, tricks and exercises on doing this Writer's Digest has books, blogs and classes available.
#3. Filtering- This was a radical concept to me when I first learned about it. Filtering is where you have the point of view character tell you what is happening through their 'filter'. You are not seeing what the character sees. You are listening as the character tells you what they see. You don't hear what the character hears. You hear the character tell you about it.
For example: "Becky stood at the window watching a red convertible speeding down her street. She turned and saw the blond hair of her son as he circled the driveway on his tricycle. The blaring of the radio was all she heard as the driver of the car paid no attention."
You've created distance between the character and the reader. Your story is in there, its just wrapped in layers of awkward paper, Styrofoam peanuts, crumpled newspapers and tied with a pound of ribbon.
Eliminate the layers- "Becky's head pressed against the warm glass. The speeding red convertible raced toward her. Blond hair, sweaty on her two-year old's brow danced in the wind as he circled the drive on his tricycle. A radio D.J.'s voice blocked out the quiet sounds of her neighborhood."
Without the filter of Becky's observations you see, hear, and live in the story. Words to look for and eliminate are-see, saw, watch, heard, realized, seemed, understood, knew, and felt. If you are writing about a blind character for example, or a character locked in a dark room, then they are the exception. Their POV has to be filtered, there is no visual that can be offered. Just remember to describe the scene, not what the character hears or observes in the scene.
Just these few small corrections have changed the work I've done since I began writing my next novel. I hope what I've learned will help you unwrap the package of great writing within you as well.
Good luck and keep writing!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Author Review: C. R. Asay

I met C. R. Asay at the St. George Book Festival. I was intrigued by the novel this author sold, marketed as a 'Military Sci-fi'. I have an affinity for anything military, as it represents strength, courage, and unselfishness along with fierce patriotism. The more I discussed this authors work, military experience and book premise the more intrigued I became.
At the conclusion of the festival I immediately came home and bought "Heart Of Annihilation".
My favorite parts of this story were: dual points of view, accurate military depictions and, of course, her leading man...Crpl. Thurgood.
Asay held nothing back from her depictions of the brutality, action and pacing of the scenes with specialist Chris Rose. The Science in both the reality portion of the story and the fictional alternate dimension were accurate enough to be believable, but far fetched enough to draw you into the fictional world.
As I got to know the two characters in the alternating perspectives, I began to love and hate them. I also understood the complexities of how their lives intertwined. The weaving of the story was well done and kept me turning the pages.
Asay lists "Heart Of Annihilation" as the first in a series and I'm looking forward to her forthcoming books. You can find "Heart Of Annihilation on,, and other places where e-books are sold. You can also find links to this author's work on, and through the publisher Wido Publishing.
C. R. Asay joined the Utah National Guard at the age of seventeen. After spending time in the 625th Military Police Corp she transferred to the 19th Special
Forces group as a counterintelligence agent. She retired from the military after marrying her best friend and graduating from college so that she could
embark on the most exciting adventure of all; being a mom.

The short story version of her first novel, Heart of Annihilation, earned an honorable mention from the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future contest. C.
R. Asay currently resides in West Jordan, Utah, with her husband, four children, and a dog. There is always a dog.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Beat The Sheet Or Break The Glass?

My favorite "assignment" as a writer is the advice to read, read, read. Every one from T.H. White to Steven King says the most important thing you can do on a daily basis is to read. If this is what school had been like, I'd still be a student.
Unfortunately, the more I learn about good writing, the harder it is for me to enjoy reading. The more editing I do for other authors, the harder it is for me to turn off my professional brain and simply be a reader. Editing, grammar, weak dialogue, and plot holes which bothered me but could be overlooked, now absorb my attention more than the joy of reading. However, when I read a great story, I get lost in the characters and turn my writers brain off.
So I asked myself...Why am I able to do this with some stories, but not with others? Answering this question sent me on a research journey I'd like to share. Part I of this journey will begin with the point of view of writers who believe in formulaic story structure.
A Beat Sheet- One of the most popular and widely accepted formulas for structuring a story is Blake Snyder's beat sheet from his book. Save The
This is actually written for screen writers but is also widely used by fiction writers as a guide for structuring their stories. The beat sheet points out 15 'beats' or scenes in which particular plot points must occur. It gives a brief description of what these plot points are and on what page of your manuscript this should occur. For example-Scene, set-up, and character are all introduced between pages 1 and 10. The theme or major point of the entire story needs to be stated by a secondary character, preferably in dialogue somewhere between pages 10 and 30 and then an inciting incident must happen between pages 15 and 30 as well. These would be the first 3 beats. Notice the page numbers are a little flexible but if you are going to break away from this formula go faster not slower.
I found this particular formula helpful but confusing as taken strictly from Snyder's book. I've listened to broadcasts and classes taught on the formula for more clarity, which has helped. MichaelHauge, an expert working with the movie industry teaches his own version of the beat sheet. Jessica Brody teaches classes and  has a formulaic spreadsheet available on her website. which helps with the beats and the page numbers.
As I found structure problems with my debut novel "Killing Casanova", I used the beat sheet to help me structure my second novel "Burning Bridger" (available through Muse It Up Publishing Spring/Summer of 2015). the formulaic approach was a huge help with finding the spots in the novel where the story didn't seem to be flowing in the right direction.
Here's the thing though...I knew from reading the story, the flow was off. I needed the formula to point me in the right direction. The problem I've found with the beat sheet is that if you don't have a destination the story wants to go, then the beats just make your story predictable, weak and boring.
Cory Mandell, a screen writer and teacher at UCLA says its because the formula, while important, can often be the wrong 'glass.'
If the story is the 'wine' but you're drinking it out of a shot glass or a Dixie cup then you didn't enjoy the 'wine' because the glass ruined it for you. Mandell recommends breaking the glass all together and sculpting a wineglass specific for your story. We'll talk more about the 'wine glass' in next month's post.
For now checking out the formulaic approach with the beat sheet is worth looking into. There's so much you can learn about the correct way to spin a tale instead of tell a story. It's definitely worth the knowledge you'll gain about writing good stories.
So start by beating the sheet and in January will discuss breaking the glass. Mostly...keep writing.