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?

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Writer Wednesday: Three Steps to #NaNoWriMo Success #IARTG #amwriting

Happy Wednesday, readers and writers! October is just around the corner, which means you have just over thirty days to plan your Halloween costume, and finalize your NaNoWriMo plan of attack.

Plan NaNo now, you ask? Why, it’s still September! Yes, yes it is, but believe me that in order to win NaNo–in other words, write 50,000 over the course of the 30 days in November–you need to plan, plan, and plan some more.

Regular readers of this blog know that I’m a huge fan of NaNoWriMo. In fact, two of my currently published novels, Changing Teams and Gallowglass, were both written during NaNo. However, last year’s NaNo was an epic fail on my part, and it was all due to poor planning. I had my story idea, and I’d done a bit of outlining and research, but not nearly enough. It wasn’t long before the story had gone so far off the rails there was no way I could fix it in 30 days. You can read all about that disaster here.

But this year will be different! I’ve done my homework, and I expect that even if I don’t have a finished story by November 30, I will at least have my 50,000 words. Here are the steps I’m taking to stack the deck in my favor:

  1. Research – Then do some more research, ask a librarian for help, and maybe book a trip to visit any real-life locations. Really, you’re not going to get too much information so go all in.
  2. Outline – A nice detailed outline is key. One incorporating the classic three act structure would be ideal, but you want a strong map to follow. Think of it like you’re downloading the newest map software onto your Garmin, as opposed to using a paper map printed in 1952.
  3. Character Profiles – Who’s the protagonist? Antagonist? What do they want? What are the stakes? What will happen if they don’t get what they want? Again, you cannot have too much information.

Next week, I’ll share some of the research I’ve done for my NaNo 2017 masterpiece. Okay, pending masterpiece. In the meantime, click the links below to learn more about my two most successful NaNo projects. Happy reading!

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?

Writer Wednesday: Wellness Check In #writerwednesday #wellness #amwriting #probiotics

One of my main goals of 2017 is to incorporate more healthy choices into my daily life. I want to feel great, keep my creativity flowing, and (hopefully) be a good influence on my children. Now that I’ve been doing this for a few months, I have a handle on what’s working for me.

  • Incorporating probiotics – I’ve been incorporating probiotics into my diet since mid-January, and I felt the beneficial effects almost immediately. Aside from the physical improvements, I’m much more even-tempered and calm. I get my probiotics from a combination of kombucha and fermented foods like kim chi. (Standard disclaimer: I am no health professional. If you’re interested in learning if probiotics can help you, see out a qualified professional. Here’s an article from The Mayo Clinic, and another from Web MD, to get you started.)
  • I gave myself some curfews – No social media after 10 pm, and in bed before midnight. Really, no one needs more social media, and having an hour to wind down before bed leads to quality sleep. If only I could dream up some new plot twists…
  • I’m eating more real food – I didn’t want to go on a diet so much as I wanted to eat better. Therefore, I didn’t limit myself on what I could have, but I did make an effort to purchase more vegetables, whole grains, and vegetable-based protein. With all that good food in the house, who needs all that processed junk?

Check out this awesome infographic from Positive Health and Wellness:

probiotics

Thanks to these (and a few other) healthy changes, I look and feel better already. Even though it’s only April, I’ve already successfully launched two titles this year, am on track to release three more, and I haven’t missed a deadline yet. By prioritizing wellness, I have the stamina and mental acuity to keep everything else in line. Will I still have setbacks? Of course I will. Everyone does. But by staying as on-track as I can, those setbacks will be minor bumps, not game-changing catastrophes.

What positive changes have you made in 2017? Tell us in the comments!

Coming June 6: Gallowglass

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

Gallowglass Promo Graphic 3

Preorder here–> http://amzn.to/2nG62e5 http://amzn.to/2nG62e5

 

Writer Wednesday: How To Make In-Person Appearances Even More Awesome #WriterWednesday #Events #amwriting

It’s no secret that I love in-person events. After spending months or in some cases, years, working on a novel, getting out of my writer cave and presenting my work to potential readers is wonderful. I have attended hundreds of events, both as a presenter and an audience member, and I’ve learned a few things along the way. Below are some quick and easy ways to make sure your event goes swimmingly.

Be sure to check out my upcoming events here.

Presentation Matters – You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on swag and display merchandise, but if you’re given a table you should make it as appealing as possible. For example, in the image below along with books and swag, I have a display rack, a table covering, and a string of white lights. Since the rack was borrowed and the table covering is a repurposed curtain, I only paid 99 cents for the lights. Small investment, big impact. Now about that wacky author…

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2016 Easthampton Bookfest

Your Appearance Matters, Too – Strive to dress and behave appropriately for the venue in question. If you’re visiting a school or library, keep in mind that children may be present, so be cognizant of your language and subject matter. You don’t want to risk not getting asked back because you dropped a few inappropriate words.

And for the love of all that is holy, wear clean clothes! I will never forget one particular bookstore event where a fellow panelist was wearing a sleeveless top, thus revealing an absolutely filthy bra. Really, people, do you want to be known for your writing, or your hygiene?

Be Gracious – Most people are great. Some are jerks. Be kind and polite to everyone, since no one will remember the name of the heckler in the third row, but social media will light up like a Christmas tree if you lose your cool. So what if you’ve been asked the same question ten times in a row? If it’s the first time that person has asked you the question, they deserve a polite response. Of course, if the same person has asked you the same question ten times, you have full permission to get creative with your answers 🙂

All kidding aside, you’ll catch more bees with honey than vinegar. Saying please and thank you go a long way, and people remember kindness.

What are some tips you use at appearances? Have you ever been to an event that went south in an epic manner? Tell us in the comments!

Changing Fate preorder

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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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

 

What Kind Of Pencils do You Use? #WriterWednesday #amwriting #inspiration

In my never-ending quest for blog post topics, I asked my husband what I should write about today… and I got the title you see above you. And while I initially dismissed his idea, the more I thought about it, the more I liked it. Artist need tools to create, right?

But I don’t want to talk about traditional writing tools, like pencils and notebooks and word processing programs. I want to talk about the tools that make writing possible, tools that you can use to smash through writers block or jump start your inspiration. one of the tools I use for this–and I have many–are newsletters.

Newsletters?

I subscribe to a wide variety of newsletter, some because they’re writing related, some for inspiration, and some just for fun. Below are a few of my favorites.

Travel + Leisure: This is a list based newsletter, which features things like “25 Waterfalls To See Before You Die” and “Top Ten Towns For Foodies”. It’s a great way to get inspiration for a scene, or research a location without leaving home.

Tasting Table: Features a wide variety of world cuisine, and has restaurant and chef profiles. It’s fun learning what’s eaten for breakfast in Sweden, and how chefs create those amazing meals.

Atlas Obscura: As the name implies, this newsletter features some of the strangest and most out of the way stuff on earth. I’ve read articles on Spring Heeled Jack , a church decorated with dragon bones, and a unicorn skeleton. Now that’s some inspiration.

What tools do you use for inspiration? Tell us in the comments!

 

htts-1Heir to the Sun is available 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!

 

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What Happens When You Don’t Make Your Goals? You Keep Going, Of Course #WriterWednesday #amwriting #goals

About a week ago I started prepping my blog posts for 2017, including my yearly writing goals… And that got me to thinking about my 2016 goals, and one goal in particular that I am not going to achieve. I’d planned to release five novels this year, but that just won’t be happening.

I started off strong, and released Changing Scenes on January 5. The Virgin Queen released on April 5, and Copper Veins FINALLY came out on July 27. And then…crickets.

The other two titles I’d intended to release this year were Changing Fate, the third installment in my contemporary romance series, Changes, and Rise of the Deva’shi, the third Chronicle of Parthalan. After I was done being mad at myself for not making these goals, I took a step back and tried to figure out what happened.

In the case of Changing Fate, there were a few things going on. In all honesty Changing Scenes came out way too quickly (Changing Teams released October 29, 2015, and Changing Scenes hit the shelves on January 5, 2016), and I never got the chance to properly promote it.  Add that to the fact that I have two other currently-releasing series, am querying a fourth, am in grad school full time, and have the Wonder Twins, husband, and pets to wrangle, and, well, I think you know why Changing Fate isn’t coming out until next year. Oy.

The situation is a bit different for Rise of the Deva’shi. Even though this is the third Chronicle of Parthalan, it was originally released back in 2009. (Long story. Someday, when y’all have insomnia, I’ll tell you all about it.) So it was supposed to re-release this year, being that Bellatrix Press picked up the entire series. Everything was lined up, and then… well, I did a thing.

I was supposed to hand over the manuscript to the editor by August 1. In the meantime I’d been reworking and tweaking away, and I kept getting stuck on this one section. It didn’t really fit with the overall tone of the book, and our hero, Aeolmar, was behaving out of character. There were some good scenes in that passage, and some awesome bits of dialogue, but in the end it had to go.

So, the day before the manuscript was due, I cut 24,000 words.

Yes, twenty four THOUSAND.

As you can imagine, this turn of events meant that the manuscript was delivered somewhat later than promised, hence the delayed release date. But you know what? I’m glad I chopped out that part of the story. Now my editor is concentrating on the actual meat of the novel, not trying to make a few bits of dialogue and weird scenes fit into the overall narrative. This means that when Rise of the Deva’shi is released, it will be a stronger story. Since I took my time with Changing Fate, it will be a stronger story, too.

Your take-away from all of this is DON’T RUSH YOUR WRITING. I don’t recommend making huge plot changes the day before your deadline, either, but if you need more time don’t be afraid to ask for it. The story takes as long as it takes. And you do want to put out the best story possible, right?

ProvostHeirToTheSun

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

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!