6 Years!!

I was looking through my Facebook page the other day and something hit me: I started that page and this blog back in March of 2011, six years ago!

It’s been a fun ride since then, and I’m so grateful not just that I get to be an author, but that I am living the life that I am. I’m a super creative person in several formats, and being self employed and working at home allows me to draw, paint, and explore other art forms. I like painting Oregon landscapes in acrylic and oil, drawing flowers for body art in temporary jagua ink, and I’m starting to explore things like wood burning and even tattooing fruit.

And of course I love to create new stories! It’s an amazing journey, and each novel is a process where I enjoy writing it, getting to know the characters and their arcs, and learning more about storytelling.

Seems like I should celebrate 6 years of blogging!

I posted an audiobook giveaway on my FB page, with 5 copies of Point Hope up for grabs.

And I have a bunch of my Kindle ebooks on a 99 cent special for a while, including Covetous if you haven’t read it yet!

I’ll come up with some fun things throughout the month of April too.

So my next novel…. a past/present time split story

I’ve been painting a lot so far this year, and I’ll share those below, but I wanted to tell you about the novel I’m writing. It’s about a woman in a dying marriage–Lily can grasp the issue but doesn’t know how to get around it. She desperately wants a baby and her husband Mic is dead set against it. She wishes for a different life and wakes up on the Oregon Trail with Mic and their children. That’s all I’m sharing for now! I’m 20,000 words into the book, and I’m not sure how long it’ll be. So more to come…!

Here’s a few of my paintings; I love painting Oregon forests and the beach. And the last pic is my newest tattoo–very Hawaiian themed this time!

 

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Covetous – upcoming erotic thriller release!

 

A dark erotic thriller for fans of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train

Releasing in February 2016 – This is my longest novel to date and my first thriller of this type! Scroll more.

Detective Allen Hounder desperately needs to uncover the connection between two sets of gruesome murders before more people die. He finds beautiful Lucy Marshall caught in the middle, and he struggles to stay objective while pulled into her charm. He follows the rabbit hole, discovering each suspect has secrets and hidden links to the others. They all have motive…

Lucy doesn’t know who she can turn to. If her boyfriend Luke knew the truth about her, he would have more motive than anyone, but does he know? Her two closest friends are involved—one is even hiding. Lucy wants to hold onto everyone but can’t control the web she’s weaved around herself. She can’t trust anyone anymore, not herself, and not the mysterious stranger leaving messages for her.

COVETOUS is a gritty, dark erotic thriller with a killer on the loose and suspects no one can trust.

Tiny Teaser: (I don’t want to give too much away!)

I just had to wait out their goodbye and try not to puke as they clung to each other. She fit oh so perfectly in his embrace, her smaller body pressed to his, her arms curved around to his back to press her face to his chest, and her knees just slightly bent to contour to his legs. It was a long and needy hug.

The man—Theo—was a little over a foot taller than her, with a long lean body, and skin the color of coffee beans. He could easily be called a beautiful man, the kind you see in Calvin Kline ads.

It was early morning now as they stood entwined on the front porch, hidden behind the thick rhododendron leaves blanketing the columns of the rounded portico. It was an expensive Colonial home; they thought they were refined but it looked flashy to me. Yellow light cast down over them like a harvest moon. It had started to get cold at night and their breath showed in quick little puffs.

Almost done… Nope. Jacqueline stepped outside. She was small and peach complexioned with silky honey colored hair, and she wore a red and flower silk robe—that was probably all she wore.

The first woman lifted her face to press a kiss into Theo’s neck before turning to hug Jacqueline, a tight hug like she didn’t want to leave. She finally did, but before she made it three steps, Theo teased, “Don’t forget me.”

Smile now. You won’t be later.

“I’ll do my best.” She tried not to smile back but the man’s slow curving of his lips was hard to resist. And she never did resist him. Stupid girl. What a mess she made.

She was at the stairs when she gave them one last look before leaving. Could she go any slower?

It was an hour later, just past three, when I slipped past the shrubs and columns and paused at the front door to insert the key. This was really it.

The fragrance of apple-flower potpourri wafted out the door as I opened it. I entered with a bundle under my arm and crept through the house, into the bedroom, rolling a thin tarp out across the bedroom in front of me before silently approaching the end of the bed. A nightlight lit their room, making it easy to creep in without bumping into anything.

They were sound asleep, and I watched his chest rise and fall. She didn’t even look like she was breathing, she was so deep asleep. Their faces were planes and shadows, not that their looks mattered. They didn’t really matter. They just had to be stopped from taking what didn’t belong to them.

10 Easy Steps to Write Your Novel

My newest writing guide is out! This project began when I tried writing a blog post about how to write a novel, but I quickly realized just how much I had to say on the topic. It turned into a 100 page guide on the entire process. Take a look at the table of contents below!

(More info on all my books for authors under Authorpreneur Press)

10 Easy Steps to Write Your Novel: The Quick Start Guide to Novel Writing.

Print for only 7.99

10 easy steps novel

The “Quick Start Guide” to outlining and writing your novel!

Helpful exercises with each step.

Tips for beginnings and more advanced writers.

Have you ever wondered how to write a novel? Have you started and got frustrated? Or have you written a few novels but still want to streamline your process and learn more about structure, plot, characters, setting, and putting it all together? Do you struggle with outlining? 10 Easy Steps to Write Your Novel covers developing ideas, conflict, characters, setting, big plot points, outlining, the writing process, writing scenes, and editing and revising.

Table of Contents:

  • Step 1: Develop your Idea
  • What about a title?
  • Developing “Sparks”
  • Questions to Consider
  • A Solid Foundation
  • Developing Your Idea Exercises
  • Step 2: Develop Your Conflict
  • Conflict Exercises
  • Step 3: Add Your Characters
  • Play Around with Character
  • Character Exercises
  • Define Your Characters
  • More Character Exercises
  • Step 4: Define Your Setting
  • Using Setting to Shape Story
  • Setting Exercises
  • Step 5: Outline your Big Plot Points
  • My Novel Structure
  • Expanding the 7 Plot Points
  • Step 6: Plan Act I to the Door of No Return
  • Outlining
  • What about Prologues?
  • That Opening Line
  • Beginnings
  • Genre Beginnings
  • “The Beginning” Exercises
  • Complications
  • The Door of No Return
  • Step 7: Plan Act II to the Midpoint
  • Act II Exercise
  • Low and High Points
  • Midpoint
  • Step 8: Act III: Plan the Middle to the End
  • Taking Action
  • Dark Moment
  • Climax
  • Resolution
  • Ending Exercises
  • The Last Line
  • Step 9: Writing
  • Writing Scenes
  • Should you write every day?
  • Should you set a daily word count goal?
  • Should you write in order?
  • Should you edit and revise during the first draft?
  • Staying in the flow
  • Keeping up your momentum
  • Celebrate your progress
  • Step 10: Re-writing & Editing
  • When should you share your work?
  • Critique Groups?
  • Start with the big issues
  • Checking Smaller Elements
  • Should you have a theme?
  • When is your novel finished?

Marcus and Avery on my mind

So whenever I’m working on a novel, the characters basically hang out in my head. I see them going about their day and think about how they think, talk, feel and dream. I’ll get scene ideas throughout the day or even think about how they’d react to what’s going on in my life. That has taken on a life of its own as I work on In My Dreams… I’m starting to feel like Avery in the first book! The reason is both Marcus and Avery feel so real to me. I can see the way Marcus’s eyes light up and how his face changes when he laughs good and hard, and I hear his comments. I’ll be picturing something for the story and hear him say, “That girly? Really? Dude, you’re turning me into a girl.” Or, “You think I’d hold back like that? When did my mouth get so PG?”

And I imagine Avery going through my crap with me – I’m pouring a lot of my emotions into her right now. My life took some crazy turns and I’m starting over in many ways, and she’s like a friend going through the same thing. When my emotions try to eat me alive, she’s there feeling it too. She’s gotta figure out who she is even while she cares about other people so much; it’s hard to see where the lines are. She’s surprised sometimes as she thinks, “Holy shit, I can do this.” But it’s still hard for her to own that.

So this is going to be one interesting sequel – I want it to be as raw and intense as the first one, or maybe even more so. There’s a crazy wild amount of possibilities too, now that Marcus is back in his body and they both have to figure out their relationship and their separate lives again. Of course they don’t want to be separate. Can you imagine having someone in your heart and mind 24-7 and then you can’t hear them anymore? It’s like falling off a cliff in the dark. That twirling free fall is a good metaphor for the emotions pouring out of them and into the story.

And this story isn’t about just them. We have all these other threads to pick up with Kristina, Kyle, Nash and Jazz. And some weird things happened when those guys started talking, and now some of them have their own chapters and are feeling certain things for each other… Yeah, a big hint there, but I don’t want to give away too much just yet!

First Tracks Series:    All in my Head     In My Dreams

When bullets fly

I haven’t wrote flash fiction in forever. The urge hit tonight, and I decided to play around with words and also write something without real dialogue.

When bullets fly

She didn’t see the bullet coming, but even if she had she wouldn’t have moved out of the way. She’d been waiting on that bullet for years.

As she went out to the car that morning, the lightning in the steel sky might have appeared as a sign to the superstitious, which she was. But she felt a strange lift in her chest and smiled. It wasn’t a happy or good smile. More like grinning as you go down in flames. You know that saying that lightning only strikes once? That’s only partly true. It strikes once with the really good stuff, but it hits the shit out of you with the bad.

As she watched the electricity branch across the sky at the stop of 23rd and Polk, a Chevy truck slammed into her rear bumper. After the jolt, she pushed open her door and rose shakily from the driver’s seat to address the other driver…a six foot five construction worker with a buzz cut who reeked of cigarette smoke. Of course he didn’t have insurance or the patience to stay and discuss it.

So maybe the lightning was a sign? Maybe she needed to go home and go back to bed. Some days just aren’t made for getting ahead.

But she didn’t.

She instead went to work to be greeted by the boss by the front door. Oddly, he wore a tie, and escorted her to his office to let her go.

Home and bed would have been the right course of action after that, except that the door was open at Johnnie’s Bar. Johnnie himself was inside finishing a meeting when she walked in. Normally they’d smile at each other. Today he took a look at her and poured a shot of bourbon. Luckily she downed it before the two men walked in shouting. And maybe more luckily, she downed Johnnie’s just as the bullets flew.

It was the strangest sensation past her ear. The spot of heat. The rush of wind. The following caress. And then the sound. The other sounds were far away, down a canyon as she stood still, glass in hand, turned toward the door and staring blankly. Both men wore black leather jackets. One tall, skinny and bald. The other shorter, round and lost in a hairy goatee. Silence rang loudly. Questions floated in the smoke. Mainly, why didn’t she move? They glanced at each other and backed up out the door. Seconds later, Johnnie peeked up from behind the bar. Jesus. What was she doing standing there? Was she hit?

When she finally did turn toward him, the light from the still open door illuminated a puff of hair floating like dust.

Johnnie kept those strands for good luck. She’s not sure if she’d call it luck, but she learned you can’t back down when the bullets fly.

New release for authors: 101 Questions to Improve Your Novel

It’s out in print and Kindle! And it’s in a new box set with Blockbuster Books, Broken Down–details below.

This book grew out of my experience editing and my own “final check list.”

101 Questions to Improve Your Novel: for Writing, Editing, Revising, and Polishing

From plot twists to dialogue, authors have a long list to think about when revising and polishing a novel. These 101 questions and explanations will help you improve and check your novel’s opening, plot and character development, conflict, pacing, dialogue, and of course the writing itself. After months or years of working on a story, it’s difficult to check the quality on every fiction element. 101 Questions looks at overarching issues, small details, and writing technique. You may learn about new techniques and tips, see a method differently, or realize that you forgot a trick. This handy list of 101 questions explores many possible ways to improve specific areas, add layers and depth, strengthen conflict, find plot holes, and identify writing issues.

Contents:  Workshop and Checklist,  All About STORY,  All About Editing,  The Beginning,  Sample Openings,  Plot & Structure,  Chapters & Pacing,  Scenes,  Characters,  Dialogue,  Setting,  The End,  Strong Writing,  & Final Checks
Sample Question – #40. Do all of your characters have strong feelings about each other?

Working on this element truly adds another layer to your story. In life, we meet people and classify them right away. It’s not often that we know a person but don’t have any opinions or feelings about them. But we see that in stories all the time.

Sometimes I read or edit a novel and have a hard time telling the characters apart. This arises when the characters aren’t distinct, but it’s also caused by a lack of feeling toward each other. If your hero really dislikes another character, that will color the hero’s description and interaction with that character.

Take a closer look at your work: make a list of all of your characters and then describe how your hero feels about them. If your hero doesn’t feel anything that shows in your story right now, do you need to make that character more colorful? And by colorful, I mean annoying, more pushy, more opinionated, more deceitful, more secretive, more talkative, more silent, more helpful, more sweet, more of a pushover, more something?

Look at the relationship between all of your main characters. It might help to make a chart. Then think about how they interact and secretly feel about each other. You can have a lot of fun in this area, and it really deepens your story.


101 Qs for your novel

And here’s the box set for anyone who doesn’t have Blockbuster Books already.

Both books are in Kindle Unlimited so you can borrow them,so people who aren’t signed up to use that program might want the box set.

And information on the second book:

Blockbuster BooksBlockbuster Books, Broken Down

Learn from mega bestselling novels to build your own breakout plot!

Why start from scratch and reinvent storytelling? Instead, use a 7 point plot outline developed from wildly successful novels.

“Blockbuster Books, Broken Down” is a workbook style guide that reveals the structure and elements in huge bestsellers of the last fifteen years, many of which became movies. By breaking down these books, we can see how successful authors are breaking out by satisfying readers’ needs.

This is a hands-on fiction workshop packed with insights and activities to quickly teach you breakout plotting and novel development.


A story and a sentence walked into a bar together…

They both noticed a woman with long, dark hair and an inviting smile, so they sat at the bar, four stools away from her. She glanced over at their entrance before turning back to her conversation with her friends. Sentence told Story, “Watch this. I’m going to wiggle my perfect construction at her. She won’t be able to resist!”

Story watched as Sentence tried to catch the woman’s eye. The woman and her friends gave Sentence a few polite glances, but they weren’t interested.

When Story had enough, he announced, “My turn!” He walked around Sentence to sit closer to the woman and gave her a nod and a wink. The woman immediately moved down the bar three seats to talk to Story.

“Your characters are amazing! How did you come up with this idea, anyway?” She leaned closer and tilted her head back to tease him with a half smile. “And the twist at the end! I didn’t see that coming, but then it made perfect sense. Please tell me there’s a sequel. Does Jake ever win Kathryn over, and does his father ever forgive him? Is there another mystery to solve?”

Story motioned for another round of drinks and murmured, “I’ll tell you everything if you have a few hours…”

Sentence sulked in his seat. What had he done wrong?

“Sentence” missed the simple fact that readers don’t go into bookstores and online retailers to buy groups of sentences. There aren’t any reviews that read, “This book is full of perfect sentences! Check out the metaphor on page 82. The sentences were so wonderful that I forgot about the story and highlighted the commas and semicolons. This author knows how to vary sentence length! Wonderful!”

Readers often say a novel is well written, and they might mention the imagery or fresh use of language, but that alone won’t win readers. Personally, I don’t want to throw a reader out of the story with a impressive sentence. I want the plot and characters to pull the reader in so she’ll keep reading past her bedtime. Of course, I don’t want poor writing to distract the reader either, but I know the point of the novel is the story.

As an artist, do you want others to see the picture you’re painting or the brushstrokes?

Do you need to write well on a sentence level to write good stories? Yes, of course! But are the sentences more important than the story you’re telling? Not in my opinion. Aren’t authors selling stories, not sentences?

Writing well is very important. I don’t mean to argue that point, but it really bugs me when I hear someone put down a mega bestselling author for their writing. It’s usually on a sentence level: “Look at all the clichés, passive voice, and simple sentences! A fifth grader could write better.” It could be true–the given book might very well be full of sentences that could be written better. Maybe their modifiers don’t line up. Maybe they like using clichés as shortcuts in certain places. Maybe they choose choppy or run on sentences over proper grammar to show the character’s thoughts and emotions. But, if the writing really is that poor, then the author must be doing something else right. And that “something else” really sells copies. Millions of readers are buying those books. Despite what people say, you can’t sell a book month after month on marketing alone. If it’s not a good story, people complain. They won’t tell other people about the book.

Readers want an experience away from their life. They want to get sucked into a great story that makes them forget everything else for a few hours. They want to connect with the character and see the world differently. They want to experience a great story. They want to feel.

So, yes, please learn to write sentences well and play with language. Study English, spelling, and grammar. Create fresh images and strive to be original. Learn how to write well so readers can understand what you’re saying. And if you want to sell that writing, remember your job is to tell a damn good story.