Wednesday, February 3, 2021

The Reason I Blog and Free Reads #IWSG

I first started blogging back in 2010. Yikes. That was another world. I was wide-eyed and bushy-tailed with big dreams. Blogging was going to lead me onto the path to greatness. I chuckle now. 

When a new writer asks me if they should start a blog, I tell them that I wouldn't recommend it. Blogging isn't as big as it used to be. I honestly think there are more writers on blogs than readers. 

If your audience is writers, then sure! Blog away! If you write non-fiction, then yes, blogging might work for you. If you love, love, love writing longer content for your interested readers, then yes, blogging is for you. 

There is, of course, other reasons to blog.

The IWSG question of the month: Blogging is often more than just sharing stories. It’s often the start of special friendships and relationships. Have you made any friends through the blogosphere? 

This is the reason I continue blogging after all these years. The friends I've made*. I blog to stay in touch, to help where I can, and to share a little extra of what I do that I don't share on other social media platforms. And--gasp--it's enjoyable.

*I couldn't possibly name all the friends I've made. If I tried, I'd inevitably leave someone out, and I don't want to do that.

What do you love about writing or reading blogs?

 

And a special treat for you today. If you love Fantasy Adventure, you might like to pick up some free reads here.


If you prefer Young Adult Fantasy and Fairytale Romance, then you might like these books, which are free with Kindle Unlimited.



Monday, January 18, 2021

Chrys Fey on Tornado Safety

Today I have guest author, Chrys Fey. Take it away, Chrys:

Growing up, I was afraid of tornados. Probably from watching Twister every single weekend. And watching Night of the Twisters a lot, too. 

 In Night of the Twisters, the character Dan slips a wood slate over the bathroom window before getting into shelter with his baby brother and his best friend. In A Fighting Chance, Amanda does the same thing. I obviously got this from the movie. (Hey, some things stick with us.) 

When I was little, there were a lot of severe thunderstorms. Practically daily. Every spring and especially during the summer. And thanks to watching Twister so much, we worried about getting sucked into the sky. There’s a scene at the end of Twister when Jo and Bill use leather reins (or something like it) to wrap around a metal pole that goes deep into the ground, and they climb into them to hold on for dear life. My mom connected the metal hooks to rubber straps/bungees around these two posts in the middle of our house so we could slip under them if there ever was a tornado warning. And, of course, hold on for dear life. 

Those two things gave me an idea for A Fighting Chance. Amanda, a smart woman, has a baby mattress crib in her closet with belts around it so she can hold the mattress in place over her back while she’s hunkering down in the bathtub. This is a great example of using what you know. ;) 

Tornado Safety: 

- Have a plan before a tornado is a threat. Designate where family and pets can gather in the event of a tornado warning. 

- Have supplies in that area at all time, such as pet crates/carriers, a flashlight, a whistle or alarm (in case first-responders have to dig you out, you can help them find you), blankets, and anything to cover your head (pillows, a mattress, etc.) 

- Go to a room without windows, on the lowest floor (bathroom, closet, basement, storm cellar, center of the hallway). 

- If you can, get underneath something sturdy, such as a table. 

- Lay down or curl up at the bottom of a tub. 

- Cover your body with a blanket or mattress. This is where a baby mattress comes in handy, especially in tight confines like a bathroom or closet. For a large mattress, you could flip it over you in the corner of a room. 

- While it’s still safe, leave a mobile home and go into a nearby building. 

- If you’re outside and unable to reach a safe building, lay flat in a ditch and cover your head with your hands, or slip beneath a truck or other such vehicle that is elevated (higher off the ground). 

- If you are driving, don’t try to outrun a tornado. Find the nearest building/sturdy shelter. Buckle up! 

- Afterward, check for injuries. If you can, call loved ones immediately to let them know you’re okay.

For more tips on what to do before, during, and after a tornado, check out this article from the Red Cross.

Romantic-Suspense, 154 pages, Heat Rating: Hot 

A FIGHTING CHANCE is Book 6 in the Disaster Crimes series, but it’s a spin-off featuring a new couple, so it can be read as a standalone.

Thorn has loved Amanda from afar, giving her whatever she needs as a survivor of abuse—space, protection, and stability. He yearns to give her more, though, to share his feelings, kiss her, love her, but he's worried the truth will frighten her away. 

And Amanda is afraid. She’s scared of her attraction for Thorn. Most of all, she’s terrified of her ex-boyfriend, who is lurking nearby where no one can find him. When she grows closer to Thorn, Damon retaliates, jeopardizing their happy ending. 

Up against an abusive ex and Mother Nature, do Thorn and Amanda have a fighting chance? 

Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / iTunes 

 ***FREE FOR A LIMITED TIME*** 

THE DISASTER CURSE 

Author’s Note: I wrote The Disaster Curse to answer a few lingering questions readers may have after reading A Fighting Chance, and to tie the whole series together with a neat, shiny, perfect little bow. Plus, there was one disaster that I hadn’t written about yet. *wink* 

The Disaster Crimes Series: 

*The Crime Before the Storm (prequel) 

Hurricane Crimes (novella, #1) 

Seismic Crimes (#2) 

Lightning Crimes (free short, #2.5) 

Tsunami Crimes (#3) 

Flaming Crimes (#4) 

Frozen Crimes (#5) 

A Fighting Chance (spin-off, #6) 

The Disaster Curse (short story, #7) 

*Free exclusive story to newsletter subscribers. 

 

***LAUNCHING A WEBSITE***

TheFightingChance.org is a website dedicated to domestic violence and sexual assault awareness. Inspired by the Disaster Crimes series. 

***GIVEAWAY***  

Prizes: Hurricane Crimes (Disaster Crimes 1) and Seismic Crimes (Disaster Crimes 2) eBooks (mobi or epub), Hurricane Crimes Playing Cards, Girl Boss Sign, and a Volcanic Blast Scented Candle  

Giveaway Link: https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/23d974a92670/ 


Chrys Fey is author of the Disaster Crimes Series, a unique concept that blends disasters, crimes, and romance. She runs the Insecure Writer’s Support Group Book Club on Goodreads and edits for Dancing Lemur Press.  

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Wednesday, January 6, 2021

7 Reasons Readers Stop Reading #IWSG

The IWSG question of the month: Being a writer, what stops you from finishing a book/throws you out of the story/frustrates you the most about other people's books? 

Writers stop reading for the same reasons readers stop reading, but experienced writers can be more succinct as to the reasons why. Here are a few: (Hint: most of them come down to editing)

1. Too much backstory. One of the biggest mistakes is to load the beginning with set up for the story. The history of the world, the backstory of the characters. The carefully laid-out details can wait. Or, they can be woven into the story in palatable bites rather than massive chunks that just bore the reader before they've even set foot in the story. Avoid the info dump.

2. Not enough backstory. Backstory adds richness to the characters, makes them well-rounded. It's essential in making the current story whole. Without any depth or history, the characters or world can come across as cartoonish and thin, lacking in realism, which makes it harder for the reader to make an emotional connection. 

3. Poor character motivations. I personally call this "because plot". Something happens that makes no sense to the characters, but the author wants it to happen to push the plot forward. I see this too often and it hurts. 

4. Poor pacing. A slow book where nothing happens is a sure way to turn off readers. Long passages of description can slow down the story. This doesn't mean you can't describe something, nor does it mean you need explosions in every chapter. It means the plot needs to keep moving forward, otherwise you'll bore your reader. On the flip side, I read a book that moved so fast, it left me breathless. It also left me not caring about the characters because they didn't stop long enough to even react to the events. 

5. Poor dialogue. Dialogue is more important than you might think. It's where the reader connects with the characters. It pulls you into a story faster than any description. But too often it's cliched, or stiff and drawn out. If the characters come across as wooden or predicable, then the reader won't make that all important connection. 

6. Not enough description. Too much description is often touted as a writing sin, but I'd like to add the other swing of the pendulum. With not enough description, the reader can't sink into the story. They are merely a distant observer. Without description, they can't taste the chocolate cake the character might be enjoying, they can't feel the chills racing across the character's skin because they can't see the clawing trees or the fog creeping across the ground as if on purpose. The trick is finding the balance of description so it doesn't slow down the moment in the story.

7. Poor editing...or no editing.  This one speaks for itself. Polish your story. Learn grammar. Get an editor. 

There are many more reasons a reader might stop reading, including: The book promised something and delivered something else; too predictable, thus boring; too many long-winded sentences; unlikable characters; unbelievable characters; lacking in clarity; and on it goes. 

What are some of the reasons you stop reading?

Wishing everyone a great new year. For some free books you might like, click HERE.




Wednesday, December 2, 2020

The Best and Worst Times to Write #IWSG

November was a crazy month of writing. I completed NaNoWriMo but still haven’t finished book one in my next series. Books two and three are closer to completion, lol. 

In case you missed it, I recently had a fun guest post on Ronel Janse van Vuuren’s blog. You can check out Elle Cardy's Odyssey as a Writer

Until December 23rd, I’m offering Well of Ash for 99c. It’s a YA Fantasy novella that I personally love and had a great time writing. It has dragons!! 

IWSG question of the month: Are there months or times of the year that you are more productive with your writing than other months, and why? 

Living in the sub-tropics of Australia, I have found summer is a slow time for writing. The heat slows everything down including my brain. Summer is also the lead up to Christmas and the end of year wind down. After a busy year, I find I want to take some time off. Especially in December after finishing NaNoWriMo. 

My best writing time is probably around March. The weather is starting to get cooler and the early year relights those creative fires. 

How about you? When are your best and worst times of the year to write? 


Some other books you might like in this HOLIDAY BOOK SALE with Free and 99c books on offer, including my own, Well of Ash. Check it out here

 

Have a safe and wonderful Christmas!

 

Monday, November 16, 2020

A TV Guide to Teen/YA Dialogue


Today I'm handing my blog over to Tyrean Martinson, author of Liftoff, a fun, new YA scifi novella. In the meanwhile, I'm over at Tyrean's blog. I also have a short guest spot on Alex J. Cavanaugh's blog, so please visit there as well. Take it away, Tyrean.

Teen/YA dialogue, like any dialogue in any novel, is dependent on character, and is often used to indicate different character traits. While I know I used the phrase, “Cool,” more often than most people I know, one of my daughters says, “Coolio,” with a hint of sarcasm. After watching Community, our whole family started saying, “Cool. Cool, Cool, Cool,” like Troy and Abed. In real life, the phrases we use indicate something about who we are. They can be considered habits of speech. With characters, these habits can become catchphrases or markers of character within a dialogue. 

 If you’ve watched Scooby Doo, you know “Zoinks!” is uttered most often by Shaggy, “Jinkies!” is usually Velma’s catchphrase, and “Jeepers!” is more often said by Daphne than any other character in the show. “Looks like we’ve got another mystery on our hands,” is Fred’s signature line. Between all the variations of the Scooby Doo universe, there are more than 120 episodes filled with dialogue and these catchphrases come up in nearly every episode. The danger is that catchphrases can become overdone, so in later renditions, the Scooby Doo creators tried different phrases, or mixed up which character used them. 

While catchphrases are useful, we don’t want our readers to start thinking we’re lazy as writers. This means, we need to dig into our characters and figure out why they say what they say. In Liftoff, my characters are a teen girl from Earth and an alien boy from a different part of the galaxy. They have a few discussions about language, which was my way of addressing the problems with slang, and also addressing the issue of “universal language” that shows up in many science fiction tropes. Sol doesn’t understand Earth slang and he’s reticent about details concerning the war his people are involved in – both were something I did purposefully to share who he is as a character. 

While I think TV is usually a half-step behind the most current slang, watching some episodes of shows set in modern culture can be a way to begin to understand modern teen/YA slang. If possible, find out what teens you know are watching. Ask parents of teens about slang and word usage, as well as references. My character Amaya has been sheltered by her parents, was sent to private schools, and she enjoys reading; she makes some references to indicate those things about her character. 

Dialogue is often at the heart of how we show who our characters are and how they are developing throughout a novel. It can be tough to do well, and I think in many ways, it takes practice, as well as research. In addition to using TV to guide our dialogue, we always need feedback from beta readers. I know many teens are busy with activities and homework, so I have found the best way to get feedback is to choose a scene or a chapter, and ask for feedback on that. This goes for parents of teens, as well. I ask them to be honest, even if it’s brutally honest. I want to know if I’m doing it right, or not. I changed some of my dialogue because of feedback I received from beta readers who only read three to four chapters. I applied their help to the rest of the book. 

Writing requires dedication and some of that dedication requires listening to the world around us. Listen for the cadences of speech, the cultural references, and the slang in real world conversations and on television shows, and it will help guide you. At the same time, much of writing takes practice. So, write the dialogue. Get it on the page, and get help as needed. 

 

Liftoff: The Rayatana Series, Book 1

A spaceship in disguise,
an Earth girl searching for a sense of home,
and a Thousand Years’ War between alien races,
all collide on a summer afternoon.
 

An old movie theater welcomes Amaya in and wraps her up in the smell of popcorn and licorice. But one sunny afternoon during a matinee, the movie screen goes dark. The theater rumbles. 

Amaya gets trapped in the middle of an ancient alien conflict. Angry and frightened, Amaya entangles herself in a life-changing cultural misunderstanding with Sol, a young alien who keeps omitting key information, even while they’re on the run from his enemies. 

What will it take to survive a battle between alien races involved in an ancient war? 

Liftoff is a fast-paced read for fans of Code 8, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Cobra Kai. 

Kindle - Barnes and Noble - Kobo  - Smashwords - Goodreads 

Tyrean Martinson is an author and teacher from Washington State. As a former fencer and kickboxer, she enjoys writing fight scenes in fast-paced novels and novellas. As a teacher and writing tutor, she loves to get students writing and reading comfortably by any means: talk-to-text, short writing assignments, short stories, novellas, and adventures. She wrote her latest novella, Liftoff, for herself during COVID, but realized it also fits a dream she’s had for a while: to create a short, fast-paced read for teen/YA readers who love popcorn movies, adventure, and sweet romance. 

Blog - Newsletter - Instagram - Twitter - Facebook 

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Don't forget to visit Elle Cardy over at Alex's Blog and over at Tyrean's blog

 

Update: I have a guest post on Ronel Janse van Vuuren's blog