Writer Wednesday: How To Research Your #NaNoWriMo project #amwriting #IARTG

Hello readers and writers! Last week we talked about the three steps to NaNoWriMo success. this week, I thought we’d dive a bit deeper into the first item on the list, research.

Research is just as important to your work as proper grammar. You need to have a working knowledge of what you’re writing about, and you need to integrate concepts seamlessly into your work. Nothing, and I mean nothing, will kick a reader out of a story faster than an obvious error on the author’s part.

Some resist research (I get it, research is hard) and use the excuse of having built a second world, usually in a fantasy or science fiction setting. That’s all well and good–and you get to make up place names and holidays for whatever society you’ve created–but what about those aspects of your world that are common with the one we live in? For example, horses and guns.

People get horses and guns wrong all the time. In the case of horses, I’ve read books where the characters ride for hours or maybe even days, and never stop to rest or feed their horses. They also never remove their tack, never rub them down… Really, the list goes on. These poor fantasy horses are not happy!

Guns are treated just as badly. In one memorable instance, a character loaded their modern automatic weapon by sliding bullets down the barrel, like a Pez dispenser. If only they’d Googled “how to load a gun” and spent the next five minutes reading, they could have avoided that egregious error.

I may know a lot about a little and a little about a lot, but I’m not arrogant or foolish enough to think I know everything. When I incorporate certain elements into my work, I research them. To expand on the examples above, I have very little first hand knowledge of horses, but I have friends and relatives who do. I hit them up for information, and sometimes I score free horseback riding lessons. I know even less about guns, since I’ve never even held one, and I tackle that issue in my own unique way: I don’t write about them. I do, however, have characters who wield swords and other edged weapons, so I’m definitely filling my weapon research quota.

For my upcoming NaNo project, the bulk of the story takes place in County Cork, Ireland. I have been to Ireland, so I do have a feel for the land. In addition to my memories, I’ve subscribed to Irish periodicals, purchased a few maps and travel guides, watched Irish television (hello, Father Ted), and I’ve been learning Irish. I’ve also gotten a few YA titles set in Ireland, but I’m saving them to read in December, after I hit my 50k and before I start editing. My intent is that this low-key immersion in contemporary Irish culture will lend my main character an authentic voice. Even if it doesn’t, I adore all things Irish, and learning is never wasted.

How are you researching for NaNoWriMo? Tell us in the comments!

Learn more about NaNoWriMo (and sign up!) here.

Karina didn’t set out to free the Seelie Queen’s gallowglass. Now she’ll do anything to keep him.

After Karina and her brother, Chris’s, lives fall apart in separate yet equally spectacular ways, they leave New York behind and head to the UK. Karina buries herself in research for her doctoral thesis, all the while studiously not thinking about the man who broke her heart, while Chris—who’d been a best-selling author before his ex-fiancée sued him for plagiarism—drinks his way across the British Isles.

In Scotland, they visit the grave of Robert Kirk, a seventeenth- century minister who was kidnapped by fairies. No one is more shocked than Karina when a handsome man with a Scottish brogue appears, claiming to be the Robert Kirk of legend. What’s more, he says he spent the last few hundred years as the Gallowglass, the Seelie Queen’s personal assassin. When they’re attacked by demons, Karina understands how dearly the queen wants him back.

As Karina and Robert grow closer, Chris’s attempts to drown his sorrows lead him to a pub, and a woman called Sorcha. Chris is instantly smitten with her, so much so he spends days with Sorcha and lies to his sister about his whereabouts. When Chris comes home covered in fey kisses, Karina realizes that the Seelie Queen isn’t just after Robert.

Can Karina outsmart the Seelie Queen, or is Robert doomed to forever be the Gallowglass?

Britt Sullivan, part time model and full time aspiring artist, is sick of living alone in the city…

Taking lame jobs just to make ends meet is leading Britt nowhere, and she knows something has to change. She needs some excitement, and when she meets blue-eyed Midwesterner Sam MacKellar at a photo shoot, she realizes he’s perfect for her in every way—well, except for the fact that he’s gay.

A devastating childhood trauma turned Sam’s whole life into a lie…

Sam came to New York City to escape an existence that had become unbearable, and when his job as a photographer’s assistant leads him to Britt, he realizes he’s finally met someone who sees him as he really is. But plagued by nightmares and trapped by his own deception, he doesn’t know how she can truly be part of his life.

Friendship leads to a passionate encounter and hidden dangers…

Britt comforts Sam though his nightmares, and they begin to explore their mutual attraction, but the tables are turned when Britt faces unwelcome attention from a manipulative art instructor and Sam must come to her defense.

Sam is terrified to reveal the source of his nightmares, sure the truth would shatter his complicated relationship with Britt, but when she suffers an unspeakable trauma of her own, only Sam can help her pick up the pieces.

When Britt learns the magnitude of Sam’s lies, will his reasons and the depth of their feelings be enough to allow her to forgive him? Does she have a future with Sam, or does his deception also include the reality of changing teams?

Half Off Sale On Editing/Critique Services! #writerwednesday #amediting #amwriting

Here’s how it is: someone hit my fence.


And, since the scofflaw left the scene, I’m stuck paying for the repair out of my own pocket. What’s a poor writer to do?

Wait, I can have an editing sale!

My sale prices are listed below. I have a pretty quick turnaround time, and I’m currently accepting all genres. If you have any questions, or if you’d like to book my services, the best way is via my contact form here.

And if you know any fence repairmen, shoot ’em my way 🙂


Marketing and Editing Rates

Query letter and first three chapters: $25

Full manuscript critique, 60k – 100k words: $75

Full manuscript critique, more than 100k words: $100

Short story critique, up to 5,000 words: $15


*If your project is different than what’s listed above, please contact me via the form below and we can discuss

What I will do:

For critiques: I will review your project and point out plot holes, inconsistencies, and offer advice for improvements. I will point out what’s working well, and what can be altered to make your project truly shine.

For query letters: I will help you polish that blurb and help your work stand out from the rest.

For press releases and other marketing materials: I will craft compelling and original copy that will garner interest in you and your project.

For all editing projects I will supply an overall summary of the work-including but not limited to pacing, plot structure, and character development-along with comments in the body of the work, provided the format allows such.

What I will not do:

I will not correct punctuation or grammar. For those services you should hire a professional line editor, which I am not. I can refer you to qualified editors upon request.

At this time I’m accepting all genres.

Rise of the Deva’shi (Parthalan #3) will release February 28! Preorder here: http://amzn.to/2ku5kO4

rotd_final_frontcover2A stolen girl. A legendary champion. A plan that might destroy Parthalan once and for all…

Aeolmar, First Hunter of Parthalan, leads a solitary life. Having long since abandoned his quest to kill Mersgoth—the demon that murdered his family—Aeolmar moves through his days with cold efficiency. Everything changes when he leads a training mission in Brennus, where he’s attacked by Mersgoth himself, and saved by an unlikely heroine.

Latera, first born and heir to Gannera’s throne, is kidnapped and left for dead in Parthalan’s vast forests. A lone human amongst Parthalan’s fae, she makes a home in Brennus, and lives a quiet life—until she finds herself defending a wounded First Hunter from a clutch of demons.

Back in Parthalan, Harek warns Asherah of something called the deva’shi—a warrior loyal only to the demon lord, Asgeloth. Both Aeolmar and Latera suspect that there is more to this deva’shi than what Harek has told them, but before they can learn the truth, Parthalan’s borders are attacked. Will Aeolmar and Latera be able to stop the deva’shi in time, or is it a distraction to hide Harek’s true plans?

RISE OF THE DEVA’SHI – book three of the Chronicles of Parthalan


Writer Wednesday: Finding Time To Write In Three Easy Steps #WriterWednesday #amwriting #goals #inspiration #findingtime

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” — Robert Louis Stevenson

And that’s exactly what you’re doing when you write, whether it’s a grocery list or participating in NaNoWriMo, planting seeds. Unless you’re going for instant gratification via social media or blogging, when you write something it takes time for it to pay off. But no matter what or why you’re writing, you need to get the writing done first.

Which leads me to the following list, my release schedule for next year:

Rise of the Deva’shi (Parthalan #3) – February 2017

Changing Fates (Changes #3) – April 2017

Gallowglass – June 2017

Golem (Parthalan #4) – September 2017

Bride of the Gallowglass (Gallowglass #2) – November 2017

Well, that’s certainly ambitious.

There are lots of reasons why 2017 will go down in history as Release Madness, the main one being that three of the above titles are extremely close to completion (they don’t need more than a final edit/proofread and finalized covers), and the other two are very close to final draft status. Still, that’s a helluva schedule, and I’m not even mentioning my DDJ (Dreaded Day Job), wrangling the Wonder Twins and Wonder Dog (the parrot is above our shenanigans), or grad school. So how the heck will I find time to write?

Simple: I will make time.

Honestly, that’s really all it comes down to. Whenever we have something we’re passionate about, be it writing or woodworking or running marathons, we find the time to do it. We all get the same 24 hours each day; some of us choose to use them wisely, others binge on Netflix (says the girl who watched 2 seasons of Daredevil in four days. What? It was, um, research.)

Here’s how I find time to write:

  1. I write at the same time every day. For me, that means after the Wonder Twins get on the bus, and my husband goes back to bed. This gives me about an hour of peace and quiet per weekday. Of course, I can write at other times, but having a set schedule is very helpful.
  2. I strive to meet my word count. usually my word count is 2000 per day. I don’t hold myself to that if I’m in deep edit mode, since I’m often deleting while writing, and keeping track of all that is maddening.
  3. I take days off. Forcing yourself to write is not the way to create compelling stories. I get much more quality work done when I take breaks from writing, and 500 good words beats 2000 filler words (that will likely get deleted) any day.

That’s how I do it! How do you find time to write? Tell us in the comments!

htts-1Enter to win an ecopy of Heir to the Sun! https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/1ad36b898ed7a91e

virgin_queen_final-draft_text2The Virgin Queen is on sale for 99 cents: http://amzn.to/2fh2tWM


Writer Wednesday – Things To Consider Before Submitting Your Manuscript #amwriting #amediting #WedmesdayWisdomForWriters

Hey there writers! Today I’d like to discuss things that you need to have ready when submitting your manuscript, but many writers overlook. It’s easy enough to do, since we typically spend so much time polishing our work to perfection, but every item I’ve listed below is absolutely essential, if not for the initial query then for the final product.

Of note, these guidelines are for fiction projects. Nonfiction book proposals are a whole different blog post!

  1. A tag line, also called a hook or a log line – your book will need something catchy that draws the reader in.
  2. Front cover – while no one’s expecting you to send in cover mock ups–in fact, many publishers actively discourage it–you need to have a clear idea of how you’d like the cover to look. Otherwise, if the publisher asks you for suggestions and you reply that you’re cool with whatever they come up with, you might be stuck with an image that doesn’t properly represent your book.
  3. Back cover – the text on the back cover–usually referred to as the back cover matter or blurb–is your one page opportunity to convince a reader to pick up your book. It needs to be concise, interesting, and leave enough clues that the reader needs to read the book to find out what happens. It’s your first opportunity to make that all-important emotional connection with your reader.

There are many more items we could discuss, but these three items–tag line, front cover and back cover–are the meat of your final product. Now let’s see some of these concepts in action, using one of my books, Heir to the Sun, as an example. Below is the cover, tag line in bold, and the back cover matter:

A mad king. An escaped slave. One warrior to save the realm…

b3177-magnetWhen Asherah, stripped of both her memory and her dignity, learns that King Sahlgren is responsible for her torment it nearly breaks her. Instead, she leads her fellow slaves to freedom. More prisons are scattered across Parthalan, and Asherah vows to burn them all.

Caol’nir, a warrior descended from the gods, is sworn to serve and defend the king. Then a priestess is murdered, and Caol’nir learns that Sahlgren is to blame. Determined to stop the king, sacred oath or no, Caol’nir joins Asherah’s rebellion.

What Caol’nir doesn’t know is that Sahlgren has promised the demon lord a woman of rare and singular beauty, a woman whose abilities are rumored to rival the sun god’s themselves…a woman Caol’nir knows all too well.

Now as to how the awesomeness we see above us came to be, I started with the tag line. I wanted something simmering with tension that would draw the reader in. As for the back cover matter, I wanted to give the reader the barest taste of the plot, and the core issues our heroes are trying to solve. And as for the amazing cover by Veronica Jones, I knew that I wanted an action scene, and I knew which characters I wanted to feature.  I provided Veronica with the character descriptions, and gave her a few scenes to pick from, and voila!

There you have it, the three things I plot out long before my manuscript is complete. What work-ahead items are on your list – marketing, platform building, ordering swag? Tell us in the comments!

Heir to the Sun is currently on sale for 99 cents here: http://amzn.to/2cSkNSx

My next appearance will be at Bing Comic Con in Springfield, MA on October 22: http://www.bingcomiccon.org/

StrangeAuthorsSign up for my mailing list here and get a free ebook anthology, Strange Authors!



Voice – I Can’t Explain It, But I Know It When I Hear It #amwriting #voice #Gallowglass

If you follow me on a somewhat regular basis, you already know I’ve written an urban fantasy called Gallowglass. There’s a post about it here, and an excerpt here. Gallowglass represents my first NaNoWriMo win, and it’s my most loved project. I mean, I’m a crazy person who gets half an idea and writes s first draft in two weeks, but I researched Gallowglass for years. I taught myself Scottish history, how to speak Gaelic, and gained a working knowledge of geology before I wrote my first word. (For those of you new to the Gallowglass party, it takes place in Scotland, the heroine is a geologist, and the hero is, shall we say, well versed in Scottish myth and legend.) I went into this novel prepared, and–according to numerous critique partners and beta readers–I crafted a compelling and imminently readable story.

Which is why I was shocked when my queries were met with crickets. No, not only crickets; there were rejections too.

Rejections aplenty.

To recap, I had the best story I ever wrote, the tale closest to my heart, and I couldn’t get a nibble. Be they agent or publisher, no one was buying what I was selling. As painful as the realization was, I understood what was wrong: my story was broken.

But how was it broken? It had passed muster of all my critique partners and betas. But, critique partners and beta readers are just that – partners and readers, not people willing to invest months or years in your story as you coax it toward publication. Their help was invaluable, and I never would have completed Gallowglass without them. Fuzzy feelings aside, I needed to fix this beast, and since desperate times call for desperate measures, I wrote a Facebook post asking for a few super-honest, give-no-fucks readers to help me out. Five responded; only two actually critiqued the story. I’ll call them Reader A and Reader B. Protecting the innocent, and all.

Here’s what happened: Reader A, a coworker of mine, devoured the manuscript in a day. Her thoughts were that the beginning was aimless, she had no idea what the characters were doing, and that the heroine didn’t grow a spine for at least fifty pages. Reader B, a fellow writer, said much the same, and added that certain repetitive phrasing – again, in the beginning of the manuscript – might be alienating readers. After I’d memorized their comments I re-read the manuscript, and finally figured out what was wrong.

Before I make the big reveal, let me explain a much talked about concept: voice. You can Google the term, or read about it here, but voice is basically this: it’s how you sound when you write. It’s what makes Stephen King sound like Stephen King, and Madeline L’Engle like Madeline L’Engle. Whenever an agent or publisher or reader likes one of your stories – likes it enough to pay money for it – it’s because they liked your voice.

In Gallowglass, you don’t hear my voice until you’re almost a third in. Basically, I’d researched myself right out of my own story.

So what am I going to do? I’m going to tear down that first third and rewrite it. And then the second third. And, just for good measure, the third third. Gallowglass will sound like me, dammit, and once it does I’ll be able to share it with ya’ll.

Moral of the story: don’t take the stories so seriously 🙂

A mad king. An escaped slave. One warrior to save the realm…

Heir to the Sun, book one of the Chronicles of Parthalan. Find it here.


Sara had always been careful.
She never spoke of magic, never associated with those suspected of handling magic, never thought of magic, and never, ever, let anyone see her mark. After all, the last thing she wanted was to end up missing, like her father and brother.

Then, a silver elf pushed his way into Sara’s dream, and her life became anything but ordinary.

COPPER GIRLBook One of the Copper Legacy

Summer Sale!

Hey all!

As most of you are aware, I’m a freelance publicist and editor as well as a writer. Since summer is such a great time to send your work off to be wrangled by someone else (leaving you with time to enjoy the sun), I’m running a sale on my editing rates. Just contact me via this form and mention “summer sale”.

What will these shiny new rates be, you ask? Here are the sales priced critiques rates:

Query letter and first three chapters: $50  $25

Full manuscript critique, 60k – 100k words: $150  $100

Full manuscript critique, more than 100k words: $200  $150

I know, wicked cheap.

In other news, Heir to the Sun is now free for Kindle Unlimited, and Prime members can borrow it for free! What a great way to dive into a new series. Remember, if you read it please leave a review. they’re like crack for writers.

Take care, and enjoy the sun!


A mad king an escaped slave. One warrior to save the realm...

Heir to the Sun – available everywhere June 1, 2015. Add it to your GoodReads shelf here.

Like it on Facebook here.


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