Thursday, October 30, 2014

How Long Will Burns Chase His Talisman? #djinn #pararom

For a month, at least...

Join me for a month of interviews, guest posts, and giveaways! You'll want to stop at each blog to leave a comment because we'll be awarding a $50 gift card and handmade book bauble to a randomly drawn commenter...

11/3/2014 The Buttontapper
11/4/2014 Susana's Morning Room
11/5/2014 Room With Books
11/6/2014 Books and Other Spells
11/7/2014 House Millar
11/10/2014 Dena Garson - Real... Hot... Romance
11/11/2014 Unabridged Andra's
11/12/2014 Lisa Haselton's Reviews and Interviews
11/13/2014 Kinky Vanilla Romance
11/14/2014 Deal Sharing Aunt
11/17/2014 All I Want and More
11/18/2014 Laurie's Thoughts and Reviews
11/19/2014 Long and Short Reviews
11/20/2014 Straight from the Library
11/21/2014 Danita Minnis
11/24/2014 Booklover Sue
11/25/2014 Books N Pearls
11/26/2014 Bunny's Review
11/27/2014 MAD Hoydenish
11/28/2014 Romance Novel Giveaways

See you all Monday... let's talk books all month long!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Write Tighter, Write Smarter

In between promoting my latest release and running a multi-author giveaway, I'm still trying to make headway on my latest book project, The Heartbeat Thief. Since I'm editing today, I thought I'd share this post with my writer friends. Enjoy!

As a homeschooled writer, I'd learned to improve my craft one layer at a time.

My first WIP was a stack of notebooks, pages of endless prose that I'd written one summer. I wrote it for fun, an imaginary escape, without the least care for grammar or structure or plot. It was a technical wreck but I wasn't worried--because no one but me would ever read it.

My second…that was different. I knew I wanted to share that story. I also knew I had a lot to learn about writing. I began to amass my writer's library and scoured the internet for articles and discussions and workshops, all in the hopes of improving my writing. I spent years learning how to be a better writer--and will spend many more years learning, too.

Recently, I came across those notebooks of my first attempts at writing a novel and was shocked to see what my style was like when I wrote it eight years ago. I think the aspect that struck me the most was how much I rambled.

It wasn't that I wrote endless chapters of setting or backstory or dialogue. My problem was that I wrote the way I spoke--and I spoke with a lot of extra words.

Extra Words

Extra words make your sentences flimsy. A reader wants the heart of the story--and extra words get in the way. Readers crave hooks and action and a thrilling pace but extra words can cause the story to stumble.

My WIP had a lot of extra words. When I read back through those pages, I found myself skimming. That's the ultimate sign that I lost my audience--and my audience was me. How bad is that?

Tighten Those Lines

When I started homeschooling myself, I'd picked up loads of tips on how to improve the mechanics of my writing. Without realizing it, I began to write smarter because I wrote tighter. Of course, I was learning as I went--and applied most of my new skills through editing.

Editing is a technique that should always be done in layers--sentence, paragraph, scene, and story. You can tighten your writing at each of these layers, resulting in better craft and a better story.

Sentence Level

Extra words like to hide in sentences, adding bulk without substance. You can use the "find" function on your word processor to hunt out those words and eliminate them. The biggest culprits? Words such as really, very, and just, to name a few. You don't need them.

And not just single words-- entire categories such as adverbs and adjectives will loosen your sentences. If you need to enhance a noun or a verb, it may mean you didn't pick the right word in the first place. Find a stronger word and kick the enhancers to the curb.

Another tip to tighten your sentences? Skip the obvious. "He put his hat on his head." Unless he often puts his hat on a different body part, you can skip telling us where he put it.

You can also skip the obvious by eliminating things like "she could see" or "I heard"--because you follow those phrases with whatever is seen and heard. And gerunds? You probably don't need them--if your character grabs a gun and has no intention of swinging it like a club, you can drop the "to shoot" that might follow.

Paragraph Level

When looking to tighten a paragraph, I look for sections that feel like telling and not showing. I'll add a line or two that shows the action and then go back to eliminate the telling part.

Okay, you may be thinking, how can that be tighter? You're adding words!

Yes, I am…but they are healthy, vibrant words, packed with wholesome story goodness. I eliminated the empty calorie words. End result? Better writing and a stronger story.

Example: I could tell she didn't believe me.

The fix: With a sharp shake of her head, she jabbed a finger into my chest. "You do this every time! I tell you that I'm finally happy, and you concoct some stupid story about why I shouldn't be."

Yep, more words…but now the reader sees the disbelief and doesn't have to take the narrator's word for it. I added action and dialogue. That original line "I could tell she didn't believe me" is now fluff to be eliminated. Bye bye, extra words.

Scene Level

Sometimes your sentences are tight but your scenes aren't. Maybe you've got too much going on.

You can tighten your scenes by watching for unnecessary elements--any character or prop or intention or action that doesn't move the scene forward can be removed because they are distractions.

What if one of the characters wasn't present? Is someone worrying about an issue that is keeping the scene from being streamlined? If you can change a character's thoughts or attitude before the scene occurs, would you ultimately improve the flow of the scene itself?

Watch for elements that seem stagnant or present obstacles to your action. Removing them will tighten your scenes and your story.

Sometimes the element is an entire scene. Try deleting it and see what it does to improve the story.

Story Level

Take a step back and think about your story as a whole. How can you tighten it?

List your plotline and sub-plotlines. Do you have sub-plots that do little to move your story forward? If the little stories don't contribute to the plot or to the character's growth, you may be hindering the big story.  It's time to send those extra words on their way.

And the characters that are window-dressing? Send them home. Extra people mean extra words. If they don't work the story, there isn't a reason to keep them around.

Make the Cut

You may be intimidated by the prospect of cutting scenes and storylines and even characters from your story because of the damage it will do to your word count. Keep in mind that readers only want the words worth reading. You can always go back and add to the real story, using strong, vibrant language.

And think of it this way--you'll save an agent or editor the trouble of asking you to revise those same issues. Extra words keep your work from attaining "shelf-ready status". Be brave and do what's best for your story. You and your story and your writing craft will be all the better for it.

(Image courtesy of nkzs.)

Friday, October 17, 2014

#FIFG14 Fall Into Fantasy Giveaway #paranormal #fantasy #adult #YA

Welcome to the Fall Into Fantasy Giveaway, hosted by (yours, truly!) urban fantasy & paranormal romance author Ash Krafton…

Just like last year, more than FIFTY AUTHORS of fantasy and paranormal books are giving away books and swag. Hope you’re ready to start clicking and start winning because the Rafflecopters await!

This year, I am offering signed paperbacks of Bleeding Hearts (Demimonde #1) and Words That Bind, my brand-new paranormal romance. Two books, two winners, twice the love.

Bleeding Hearts
(Demimonde #1)

A shy advice columnist-turned-oracle must find a way to save her dangerous demivampire lover from the fate that threatens each of his race: evolution and the destruction of his soul.

When advice columnist Sophie meets dark and alluring Marek, she learns life-changing secrets about them both—he’s a demivampire struggling to avoid evolution and she’s an empathic oracle destined to save him. Sophie possesses the rare ability to reduce the spiritual damage that causes a demivamp to Fall, making her the only thing that stands between a DV and evolution. However, as Marek's dangerous past propels him toward his desperate fate, his enemies make darker plans for him: once vampire, powerful Marek would be second only to the Master himself. The vamps want to cause Marek's Fall and they intend to use Sophie to do it.

And for those who like a little love with their magic...

Words that Bind
Social worker Tam Kerish can’t keep her cool professionalism when steamy client Mr. Burns kindles a desire for more than a client-therapist relationship—so she drops him. However, they discover she’s the talisman to which Burns, an immortal djinn, has been bound since the days of King Solomon…and that makes it difficult.

Ethical guidelines are unequivocal when it comes to personal relationships with clients. However, the djinn has a thawing effect on the usually non-emotive Tam, who begins to feel true emotion whenever he is near. Tam has to make a difficult choice: to stay on the outside, forever looking in…or to turn her back on her entire world, just for the chance to finally experience what it means to fall in love.

In order to ensure you get a book you will love, we have divided our prizes into two groups—adult books and YA books. Feel free to enter either giveaway or both. 

Giveaway runs until October 31st...plenty of time to get all your entries in...

The authors:
Tricia Schneider, Nicole Zoltack, Marsha A. Moore, Mimi Sebastian, Terri Rochenski, Julie Reece, Lori J. Fitzgerald, Debbie Christiana, Georgia Lyn Hunter, M. Pax, Sharon Saracino, Shah Wharton, H. L. Burke, Angela Myron, Jocelyn Adams, James Garcia Jr, Tina Moss, Danielle DeVor, Sharon Buchbinder, April Aasheim, CL Bledsoe, Mara Valderran, Angela Yseult, Kallysten, Juli D. Revezzo, Aldrea Alien, Loralie Hall, Allyson Lindt, Sotia Lazu, Angela Castillo, Valerie Twombly, R.M. James, Shanyn Hosier,Ronesa Aveela, Sofia Grey, Konstanz Silverbow, Jamie Marchant, Brandy L Rivers, JC Andrijeski, Stacey Nash, Scarlett Dawn, Jami Gray, Erica Crouch, Janna Jennings, Tonya Macalino, Christine E. Schulze, Selah Janel, and Ash Krafton.

BookBox: embed book widget, share book list

BookBox: embed book widget, share book list

BookBox: embed book widget, share book list

a Rafflecopter giveaway

BookBox: embed book widget, share book list

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Make some new author friends and see what they’ve been up to…they may have written your next favorite book. 

Good luck to everyone and thanks for entering!