Lakota, Logistics, and Learning

LWelcome back to the blog! Today for the A to Z Blogging Challenge I’ve got E. Ayers talking about what she learned while writing her book.

Here’s E. Ayers!

Waving hello to everyone. Thank you so much for allowing me to be blogging about the letter L.

I’ve been working on the Diary of Clare Coleman, one of the first settlers in Wyoming. Except Clare isn’t real nor is Creed’s Crossing. This fictional character is really a culmination of people and events. In my story, Clare and Jessie Coleman settled in Wyoming in the 1840’s. They are homesteaders. Seems simple enough but it’s not.

The truth is I’m busting myths of our Wild West. Women weren’t running around in fancy dresses and swooning over hunky cowboys. Let’s start with cowboys. As the name implies, they were boys! From what I can tell most of these boys were barely ten and some weren’t as old as eighteen.

Take a quick look at the Pony Express. Again, they were young boys. Pony should have been a big clue! They weren’t big enough to ride a horse!

Right now, I’m dealing with the Battle of Little Big Horn (aka Custer’s Last Stand) as I write Clare’s diary. I can’t regurgitate history or everyone would be bored, so I absorb the history and see how it might apply to the Coleman ranch and write it. As I plow into this battle information, I’m learning about the Lakota Indians, and the logistics of troop movements. And why am I doing this?

The Coleman land would have been near or rather in the path of the troops moving into the area. And the Crow Indians supported our U.S. military. Okay, I’ll be honest. This sort of thing bored the heck out of me in school. We learned history based on battles and not on people. So here I am digging to discover facts about a battle because I’m writing a fictional story? It doesn’t seem to make sense, but I do it because I need to accurately portray their lives.

Did the troops bring their own food? Did they hunt along the way? Would they have removed sections of fence as they crossed property lines? Would they have put those sections back together once they passed through? Where might I find the answers to my questions?

And how do I know what is right and what is wrong? Well the alliance with the Sioux and Lakota tribe is well documented, as is the battle itself. It’s been the most studied battle because we lost! We don’t like losing! Actually no one does. But this is one time in history when we didn’t win.

How do I know what is fact and what is fiction when I’m writing something historical? Of course Wikipedia is my friend, but I don’t count on it as being the perfect source, because it’s not. People, average people, not historians, have built Wikipedia. I need to look beyond to other sources.

So how do I know when we first started using fountain pens? I like going to several resources. I might look up the history of fountain pens. That will yield almost two million search results. Fountain pens are actually a collectors dream and there are all sorts of people who are well versed on them. There are also plenty of brand name pen companies who have their history on the web. So I browse the collectors, check out Wikipedia, and hit a few pen companies with their historical pages. I like to check at least three different sites to make certain they agree.

And just because something was invented doesn’t mean everyone had one. Go visit your local library and you’ll get an idea of how many people don’t have Internet in their home. Most of us do, but not everyone. I have Internet but not a fancy TV. If there is something important in the news, I do have my computer. It’s been that way throughout history. The washing machine was invented and then they had to create a need for women to want one and make it affordable!

My cell phone isn’t very smart. I’m not even certain what makes it smart. I’ve never bothered to even try to get my email on my phone, but I’m sure I could. So obviously it takes time for things to filter through the population and in places like Wyoming, which were not, and still aren’t highly populated, things took longer.

So shipping something in the late 1890’s in corrugated cardboard, instead of a wooden box, might be a novelty to the recipient. Yet cardboard boxes had been around for a few years and many companies embraced them because it was cheaper than shipping in wooden boxes. It also weighed less.

By using various sources for information and looking at each thing from different angles, allows us, as authors, to accurately portray history. This makes our stories believable and adds depth.

It’s a learning process. I’m not a historian or even a real history buff. But I’m discovering bits about history that I didn’t know, and it’s all very interesting.

The constant warring between American Indian tribes often wasn’t much more than a sporting event. A chance to prove bravery or a way of saying this is our hunting ground. One week they might have had one of these events and the next week they had joined forces for something else.

For me, the Lakota Alliance and the Battle of Little Big Horn really isn’t about military history, but how it might have affected the Coleman ranch and the Crow Indians who were helping our military. Because aren’t people and their lives more exciting than the actual military battle?

When writing, it’s important to get the facts straight and then figure out how to utilize the information. It doesn’t matter if you write about ladybugs, Lakota, Latinos, lemurs, laws, Liberia, loons, or lynxes. It’s essential to understand facts. How the information is applied is up to each author.

I’ve enjoyed showing life as it really was for the men and women who settled our western territories. And the romantic notions that are perpetuated in novels need to be replaced with the stories of men and women, who fought the elements and worked hard to survive. From the beginning of time, people have always wanted to have someone to love, to be loved, and to live a better life.

ARW E AYERS e version 800x500E. Ayers writes both contemporary and historical novels. Visit her blog for more information on her books.

A Rancher’s Woman set in 1896 is available now

A Rancher’s Dream set at the end of the 1800’s will be available by May 1, 2015 in ebook and paperback.

A Rancher’s Woman

Coddled and protected from the harsh realities of life, Malene runs away from a bad marriage by posing as a chaperone to her younger sister. A series of events soon prove she’s capable of standing on her own two feet. However, she’s not prepared to follow her heart and accept marriage from the one man who truly loves her.
Many Feathers chance encounter with a blue-eyed blonde woman sets him on a path that lands him between the white man’s ways and the traditions of his people. Determined to protect his people and prove his worthiness as a suitable husband to a white woman, he stakes claim to land and establishes a ranch. But there’s one outlaw focused on destroying Many Feathers and everything he’s trying to accomplish.

Amazon International Buy Links.

Available as a Kindle Unlimited

Soon to be available at a local bookstore near you in paperback.

Cindy here again.

Thanks for stopping by the blog. I love learning new things and I have been known to let the research bog me down. I need to find a good balance.

Keep writing.


Kindle Direct Publishing

KWelcome to the blog! I struggled with what to write about for K for the A to Z Blogging Challenge. I didn’t think I could write a long enough post about what a kill fee is. Then my husband suggested Kindle. Which led me to Kindle Direct Publishing or KDP for short.

KDP is actually a big topic that could take up a lot more than 500 words so I’m just going to give an overview. Running a writing group I get a lot of questions from new writers when I tell them I’m self published and one of the most common is how much does it cost to self publish your book. A lot of writers are under the impression that it costs a lot of money to self publish. And it can cost a lot if you go through a “service” that charges you for a bunch of things you don’t need. Or you can do it for free, or almost free by publishing directly to Amazon with Kindle Direct Publishing. They don’t charge a fee to upload your books. They get paid when you sell your books. Royalties are based on price. They get a cut and you get a cut. Costs come into play when you hire an editor, hire a cover artist. You can also hire a formatter. For my short stories I do the covers myself and I get a friend to do the edits.

First things first – if you have an Amazon account you already have a KDP account. You just need to log into it to start uploading books. If you go to https:/// it will prompt you to log in.


From there you can easily add titles. Once you click on add new title the process of adding your title, uploading your content and cover is pretty easy. You’ll select keywords and add a description. On the next screen after you’ve saved and previewed your book you’ll select the rights you have. In the case of my books, since I self published I had world rights so I left that clicked. Then I set the price, royalty level and clicked publish.


Then you can obsess every day and check your sales every five minutes. 🙂 I’ve tried to limit my time checking my sales but it’s nice to see those numbers go up.


All that in mind, self publishing isn’t for everyone. While a lot of authors like the control they have when they self publish, a lot of other authors would rather give that control to someone else so they can focus on what they love the most. The writing. Self publishing is easy to do but it isn’t easy. It’s a business and you the author must wear a lot of hats. While it’s true that no matter which way you go – self publishing or traditional publishing – you still have to market your book on your own, a traditional publisher will do a lot of other jobs (cover, editing) that let you focus on writing the next book.

So, if you’re so inclined, jump into the self publishing world and let me know how it goes.

Keep writing!

Jumping in

JWelcome back to the blog! Today’s J post is brought to you by Bess Carnan. She’s talking about jumping into the writing. Here’s Bess!

So you’ve realized that your life’s ambition isn’t to be a ballerina, alligator wrestler, or doctor. Instead you want to join the hallowed lists of those whose calling is the written word. Congratulations! Now what? Here are a few basics I’ve learned since dipping my toe into the writerly world last year:

  1. Writers Write: There are thousands of books, blogs, and articles on how to write. (This works out well- if you don’t like my advice it’ll be easy to find someone whose suggestions you like better.) They tell you to write in the morning, in the evening, when you’re most productive, write for fifteen minutes every day NO MATTER WHAT. Regardless of how it’s dressed up, this is the one fundamental you can’t escape. Writers write. Talking about ‘this great idea’ you have isn’t writing. Endless research isn’t writing. Putting pen to paper, fingers to keys, quill to parchment, that is writing. And it’s the only thing that ever single writer in the world has in common.
  2. Do Your Research: I know, I just said research isn’t writing. But it is an essential part of the process. If you’ve ever watched or read something and said, “Oh my god- how can they say that? The human brain doesn’t work like that AT ALL” (the movie Lucy drove me up a wall) then you know why. That moment of incredible wrongness pulls you out of the story faster than anything else. For readers, it turns them off not only to the book, but to the author. If you start off your reader-writer relationship getting science, laws, or cultures wrong, what does that say to the reader about the rest of your writing? At best, you risk alienating your potential readers. At worst, you write something horrifically offensive and become the target of an internet campaign.
  3. Seek Out Criticism: This doesn’t have to be right away, but it does have to be before you start sending out queries to agents and editors. Because those folks get so many offerings, they go through them quickly and if your grammar is atrocious or there’s a giant hole in your world’s logic they’ll toss it out. As everyone in the writing world is fond of saying, you only get one shot with an agent; make it your best. There are hundreds of critique groups in the world where you can swap writing with other aspiring authors. If that’s not your style, you can ask people in your life to be beta readers or hire an editor. It can hurt to hear that your labor of love isn’t perfect, but that pain leads only to better writing. Don’t let your ego fool you into thinking your writing is perfect just the way it is- you’re not the one you’re trying to convince to buy your manuscript.
  4. Find Your Professional Association: In the United States we have Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers of America, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and any number of other groups for genre-based writing. These associations not only have members who are at all different points in their careers, they also put together conferences for networking and resources for their members. They usually cost to join, but you can get a lot out of your membership. This is where you’ll get the best advice about how to get your writing out there and make the most important contacts. Working in a void can only get you so far; at some point you’re going to need other people- to critique or help you on your journey- and professional associations are your best pool of candidates.
  5. Read: Read in your genre. Read out of your genre. Read advice. Read critiques. Read critically. Just make sure you never stop reading.

Welcome to the confusing, nerve-wrecking, wonderful world of writing! You’re going to love it here.

Cindy here again!

Great advice here. I just want to add that those organizations are also open to international members. I belong to Sisters in Crime and I used to belong to Romance Writers of America.

Keep writing!


Inspiration is everywhere

ITime for I on the A to Z Blogging challenge. Pressed for time so today I’m talking about inspiration for writing mostly in the form of pictures. 🙂

Some writers find it hard to come up with ideas but I’ve always found ideas everywhere. For the writing group we’ve often used pictures to inspire us to write a scene, start a story, come up with a character.

Take a look at the pictures below.  Can you write a scene based on any of them? Do any of them give you ideas about what might be going on? Who was killed in that crime scene? Whose bed is that? Some I took myself, some I found on a stock site. Feel free to brainstorm in the comments section.




Futuristic Cityscape from DepositPhoto

Futuristic Cityscape from DepositPhotos


CindyCarrollECindy is a member of Sisters in Crime and a graduate of Hal Croasmun’s screenwriting ProSeries. Her interviews with writers of CSI and Flashpoint appeared in The Rewrit, the Scriptscene newsletter, the screenwriting Chapter of RWA. She writes screenplays, thrillers, and paranormals, occasionally exploring an erotic twist. A background in banking and IT doesn’t allow much in the way of excitement so she turns to writing stories that are a little dark and usually have a dead body. She lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband and two cats. When she’s not writing you can usually find her painting landscapes in oil or trying space paintings with spray paint.

Join Cindy’s exclusive club to get new release pricing, the inside scoop, free reads:

To be a reviewer and get books before they’re released in exchange for an honest review on release day sign up here:

Follow her on Twitter:

Like her on Facebook:

Amazon Page:

Thanks for stopping by the blog today!

Keep writing.

High concept – not just a marketing gimmick

HToday we’ve got me on the blog! I’m talking about high concept, taken from lesson three of the loglines class I teach.

Ever heard an agent or editor say they want something fresh?  Have you heard them say they want something unique?  How about they want the same but different?  Any of these ringing a bell?  What I think they mean, but aren’t saying, is they want high concept.  A lot of movies have been based on high concept books.  I Am Legend for example.  Great high concept.  Lousy movie.  Jaws.  High concept book, high concept movie.  The Silence of the Lambs.  Jurassic Park.

What is high concept?  Is it just a marketing gimmick?  People tend to think if they can boil their concept down to that twenty-five word logline they have high concept.  That’s not what makes it high concept.  I can do that with a lot of my stories but only a handful are actually high concept.  So then what is it?  And how do you get it if you don’t have it?

I’ve seen “rules” that say there are three components to a high concept.  Others that say there are five. And one even that says there are six.  No matter which one you listen to they have three in common:

The concept must be unique

The concept must appeal to a wide audience

The concept can be told in a single sentence and you see the whole movie (or book).

High concept is not Star Wars meets The African Queen. This is a framing technique mostly used in Hollywood. It should be used sparingly and only if asked. It’s also not the blurb or the synopsis. It’s not big budget, blockbuster movies either. You can have high concept without the big budget.

Star Wars was high concept. Star Wars fits all the criteria for being high concept in spades.  The Blair Witch Project, by no means a big budget film, was high concept. I didn’t care for the movie myself but millions of people did. It had a unique twist. The protagonists were likeable.  The stakes were high enough for them. Even Peggy Sue Got Married was high concept.

Not high concept – Little Miss Sunshine.  She’s All That.  Head Over Heels.  Twilight.  Brokeback Mountain.  American Beauty.

High concept is a powerful tool to have as a writer.  High concept pitches can make it easier to communicate up through the chain of command.  If your idea is too complicated, by the time it reaches the top, it may sound like a totally different idea.  Anyone ever play telephone as a child?  It also forces you to determine what the story is really about.  What the core of the story is.

Now some of you may be thinking, but my story is too complex for this logline business.  Or this high concept business.  But the God Father was high concept.  Boil that complex plot, with complex characters and great subplots and what is the core?

When a powerful gangster is gunned down, his reluctant son must seek revenge and take over the family business.

Everything in the movie relies on that core.

How do you improve a concept to make it higher concept?

First, I suggest you find the essence of the concept or logline.  Figure out what it’s about and then what it’s REALLY about.

Here’s where we have fun.  Take your concept or logline and change it.  Make it better.  How?  Is it unique?  No?  Can you make it more unique?  Change the setting to be unique?  How about the characters?  Change the gender, race, species of your characters.  Change their traits.  Throw some opposites in there.  You’ve all heard the make the heroine an arsonist and the hero a fire fighter suggestion.  Raise the stakes.  Play what if?  Give it a twist.  Have something unique about it.

So go ahead and try it on one of your concepts. But only ones you haven’t done a lot of work on. Authors tend to get married to their ideas and find it hard to make changes to the concept even though a change could make the concept stronger. Feel free to share your loglines if you like.


CindyCarrollECindy is a member of Sisters in Crime and a graduate of Hal Croasmun’s screenwriting ProSeries. Her interviews with writers of CSI and Flashpoint appeared in The Rewrit, the Scriptscene newsletter, the screenwriting Chapter of RWA. She writes screenplays, thrillers, and paranormals, occasionally exploring an erotic twist. A background in banking and IT doesn’t allow much in the way of excitement so she turns to writing stories that are a little dark and usually have a dead body. She lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband and two cats. When she’s not writing you can usually find her painting landscapes in oil or trying space paintings with spray paint.

Join Cindy’s exclusive club to get new release pricing, the inside scoop, free reads:

To be a reviewer and get books before they’re released in exchange for an honest review on release day sign up here:

Follow her on Twitter:

Like her on Facebook:

Amazon Page:

Thanks for stopping by the blog today!

Keep writing.

Gothic Fiction

GTime for G in the A to Z Blogging Challenge! Today I’ve got Bonnie Dodge talking about Gothic fiction. Here’s Bonnie.

Most writers come to writing through a love of reading. Myself, I have always loved to read. Some of the first novels I read remain favorites: Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Rebecca, anything by Shirley Jackson, and everything by Edgar Allan Poe. What is it about these stories that have me rereading them again and again? I like them because they are well-written Gothic fiction.

Gothic fiction is a genre of literature that combines elements of both horror and romance. Think terror (both psychological and physical), mystery, supernatural, ghosts, and haunted houses. Add Gothic castles, darkness, death, decay, madness, secrets, and curses.

Besides being eerie, Gothic fiction has interesting characters. Think powerful tyrants, madwomen, magicians, monsters, demons, and ghosts. Maybe even the Devil himself.

Gothic stories are filled with high drama. Will the “Devil” win? Will the woman escape the evil presence haunting her house? Will the protagonist go mad? There is always another door to open, another question, “What’s next?”

A good setting with interesting characters and life or death conflict. That’s what makes a book a classic, and keeps readers coming back for more.

166_0.488896001409264164_waiting_cv_hrSet in a small town in Idaho, my novel Waiting isn’t Gothic fiction, but it does have interesting characters and lots of conflict. You can read more about it here. 

Bio: Bonnie Dodge lives and writes from her home in southern Idaho. Her award-winning fiction, poetry, and non-fiction have appeared in several newspapers, magazines, and anthologies in the Pacific Northwest. For more information visit her web page at and follow her on Twitter @BJDodge.

Cindy here again!

Thanks for stopping by the blog today. I love the chills of Gothic fiction. I think I need to add some books to my reading list.

Keep writing!

50 Awesome Moments Only Writers Understand

FWe’re already at F for the A to Z Blogging Challenge! Today I have Christina L. Rozelle talking about awesome moments only writers understand. Here’s Christina.

The world of the writer is a unique one. The way we view and experience life is definitely different from how non-writers do, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Below are fifty awesome moments most writers have or will experience in their lifetime.

50. That awesome writer moment when you type “The End.”

49. That awesome writer moment when you reread something you just wrote and it’s like reading something somebody else wrote, and you wonder where the hell it came from.

48. That thankful writer moment when you get the kids to bed and you FINALLY get to sit your ass down and write.

47. That sad writer moment when you discover that a character you’ve grown to really like/love . . . has to die.

46. That awesome writer moment when you realize that what you are writing is bigger than you, is coming from some place beyond you, and you are but a vestibule for the creative workings of the Universe to materialize. . . . When that Universal truth comes to you as a gift to be shared through your talent, humbly, a light for others to see themselves and the world by.

45. That moment when you realize you need to kill your darlings. (See above)

44. When you realize you are narrating your life in third person again.

43. That awesome writer moment when you’re writing a creepy scene and you keep looking over your shoulder, making sure no one’s behind you. In your own house. In daylight.

42. That moment when an idea to do something perfectly horrible to your characters creeps up on you and makes you smile, evilly.

41. When you are losing an argument so you start correcting their grammar.

40. When your back is killing you, your eyes are buggin’, your legs have lost all their sensation, your forearms, wrists, and elbows are achy and sore, but still you write on like the badass word-slinger that you are.

39. That awkward writer moment when you start talking to a non-reader/writer passionately about your book and they pretend like they care but it’s obvious they are more interested in the activities of a nearby Porta Potty than your book.

38. That Halleluiah! writer moment when you’ve been querying agents/publishers for eons, and you finally get that “yes.”

37. When you get a brilliant idea in the shower and you hop out with soap still on your body to scribble it down on a paper plate with a crayon (or something like that 😉 )

36. When you’re on a road trip and you put on your headphones and listen to inspiring music while working out plot details in your head the whole way.

35. That awesome writer moment when you have to pull over to write something down.

34. That moment when the best thing you ever wrote was born on a napkin.

33. That moment when your “emergency fire rescue” box in your house is too full of your writing stuff to fit any family photos, baby keepsakes, important paperwork, etc.

32. When you are constantly catching typos in places they shouldn’t be; cereal boxes, shampoo bottles, text books, signs, and your kid’s printed homework pages . . . . and you make a big deal out of it. And no one else cares.

31. When one kind comment or note of encouragement from a reader/fellow writer can pull you out of that mucky bog of motivation-less self-pity and disenchantment.

30. That sweet moment when someone you know and love reads your book and you feel closer to them.

29. When you have a child within the age bracket of your YA book. (Yes! Priceless input!)

28. When that child doesn’t want to read your book because it doesn’t have vampires in it. (Seriously?)

27. When you read a really awesome book and you have to read it again so you can pick it apart and see exactly how the author made it so freakin’ awesome.

26. When you’re talking with another writer in front of a non-writer and they are awkwardly standing there like, “huh?”

25. That inspiring moment when a big storm comes and you start plotting end of the world weather scenarios and storylines in your head.

24. That awkward moment when you meet someone who reminds you of one of your characters and you’re like, “WTF?”

23. When that plot kink works itself out in a dream, after stressing all day/week/month about it.

22. When you write your first novel and are in love with it . . . .

21. When you look at your first novel a year later and realize what a POS it is . . . .

20. When you see how necessary it was that your first novel be a POS, because you learned so much in the process of writing it.

19. That day you realize you don’t have to wait for an agent or publisher to wave the magic wand of “good enough” over you and your words, and you decide to brave the deep waters of self-publishing . . . and you learn how to swim in them. And you become a self-publishing guru, teetering daringly on the edge of absolute badass.

18. When you would rather write than sleep.

17. When your characters tell you exactly what they want you to do next . . . or else.

16. When you’re having an “off” day, and someone gives you unwarranted constructive criticism . . . and you want to tell them what they can do with their unwarranted constructive criticism.

15. When you write drunk and think it’s the best thing you ever wrote . . . .

14. That moment when you look at your drunken mumbo jumbo the next day.

13. When you have more books on your kindle than your local public library has on its shelves.

12. That amazing moment when what you are writing makes you laugh . . . . or cry.

11. That awkward moment when seeing an old typewriter is an aphrodisiac.

10. When you develop a crush on a fictional character . . . . (Hey, he’s eighteen, it’s legal, right?)

9. That moment when a blog post you wrote goes “viral.”

8. That awesome moment when you finish that rewrite. It was scary to tackle at first, but you wrangled that bull and showed it who the heck was boss! Sha-BAM! DONE!! And so much awesomer now!

7. That ancient writer memory of always having ink-stained hands.

6. When you have an elevator-pitch moment with a chance-encounter, and you totally forget what your book is about, how to speak, and that you are even an author in the first place.

5. When you base a character on someone that pisses you off . . . and they just have to die. (hehehe)

4. When you take your shitty day out on your characters . . . and it works . . . and it’s awesome.

3. When you finally meet that special person who “gets” you, and appreciates your word-nerdiness in all its glory.

2. When you light your keyboard on fire because you’re on a roll and the thoughts are flowing and the story has begun writing itself and you can barely keep up.

1. The realization that you cannot not write, even if you are not getting paid enough, or at all; because it is who you are. It is your gift, your passion, your light to shine into the world. It is your spark in the dark.

Now go! Live the moments and be great.

And as always,

Write on <3

Author Bio: Christina L. Rozelle is a mother of four currently residing in Dallas, Texas. She enjoys fiction that shines a light in the dark; has emotion, intensity, verve, depth, and truth. She writes what she’d love to read. Though her focus is currently YA speculative fiction, she dabbles in other genres as well, including adult speculative, fantasy, addiction/recovery fiction, and other general fiction.

To purchase her Upper YA Dystopian/Scifi/Horror, “The Treemakers” (summary below) Click here:

Sixteen-year-old Joy Montgomery, daughter of Zephyr the Magnificent, the great magician, can only reminisce of better times. Before the Superiors. Before the uprisings. Long ago. Before the dying Earth ripped the family she loved away from her. 
In this desolate dystopian future, the Greenleigh orphans are “privileged” with the task of building mechanical trees for Bygonne, so their world behind The Wall can breathe another day, and so the Superiors may continue their malevolent reign. 

Lured by a yearning for freedom, tenacious curiosity, and hunger for adventure, Joy discovers hope and magic amid the misery, and power in her promise to care for those remaining, whom she loves enough to risk her life for. To save them, herself, and the boy she adores from the abuse and slavery by the Superiors, Joy must entrust the aid of an unlikely ally who harbors a dangerous secret. 
With an intriguing stranger at the helm, Joy and the treemakers embark on an intense and terrifying, yet liberating quest for the truth about the existence of the forbidden paradise beyond The Wall. 

*Please note: This is the first book in the series. The second book will be available late 2015. This story is intended for mature young adult audiences, and contains themes that may be disturbing and/or offensive to some people. If you find abusive, sexual, violent, deeply intense emotional, and/or character death events disturbing and/or offensive, this book is not recommended for you or your children. Though please keep in mind this story balances those events and sequences with love, friendship, integrity, strength, nurturing, hope, perseverance, determination, and the fight for freedom from bondage. This story is not intended for the weak of heart.

Below are a few more links you might find useful/interesting:

A Spark in the Dark (Christina’s blog for writers):

Christina’s Fansite:

Christina on Facebook:

The Treemakers Superfan Rafflecopter:

Cindy here again!

Thanks for stopping by the blog today! Loved this list and found myself nodding through the whole thing.

Keep writing.

Editing – the hard part begins

EWelcome to week two of the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Today I’ve got A R Kennedy talking about one of the most important aspects of writing. Editing. Here’s A R Kennedy!

Editing…I hear the collective sigh.  To emphasize the importance of editing, lets see what our favorite authors say…

“The only kind of writing is re-writing” – Ernest Hemingway

Editing is the real work of the writer.  You’ve never read the first draft of your favorite author.  You wouldn’t want to.  It’s riddled with typos, and scenes, maybe even characters, that will be deleted before you read the book.  The editing is where authors fix the plot holes, fine tune it, and make it better.

But it’s the work—every writer will say this.

The research is fun.  (I know more about street gangs than any suburban girl should.)

The killing is fun.  (I really hope this is never taken out of context)

Seeing where your characters go is fun.  (Because they do surprise you.)

The editing is the work.

Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very’; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.” —Mark Twain

“Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.” ― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

We’ve all heard this one before, first said by William Faulkner.  It hurts to think about killing off one of your creations but you need to.

An editor once told me I liked my characters too much. (Please note in that same book, two beta readers didn’t like my main character, Nathan, at all.  One still wants me to kill off Nathan.  I’ve pointed out that would mean the end of the series.  I’m trying to not read too much into that.)

The reader must feel the tension— at any point any character may die.  You the author knows who will survive.  You’ll mourn a character’s death more than anyone else.  But do it. You want your readers, no need them, to be on the seat of their pants to turn the page, to read one more sentence, one more page, one more chapter.

So, kill ‘em I will

So how do you edit?  There are thousands of books written to help and hundreds of course to attend.

My favorite is Donald Maass.  If you can, go to one of his workshops.  If not, buy his books and workbooks.  After the second draft of my novels, I re-read my notes from his class and go through his workbook.  He’’ll tell you to kill off characters, combine characters, put characters in places you never expected.

In book three of the Nathan Miccoli mystery series, Gone But Not Healed, how did Alfonso make it to Long Beach?  Though Donald Maass’ workshop.

His course made me uncomfortable.  He’ll warn you that it will.  But go along for the ride.  You and your readers will be glad you did.

“Put down everything that comes into your head and then you’re a writer. But an author is one who can judge his own stuff’s worth, without pity, and destroy most of it.” — Colette

Missed_final_eBook_brightA R Kennedy, author of The Nathan Miccoli series.  Books 1-3 (Gone But Not Missed, Gone But Not Goodbye, Gone But Not Healed) are now on special price, 99cents, this week only. Checkout her Amazon page for links to all three books. A R Kennedy on Amazon.

Book 4 in the series, Gone But Not Together, is due out in May 2015

Website –

Facebook – AR Kennedy

Twitter – ARK_author



Cindy here again!

Thanks for stopping by the blog today. Great post about editing.

Keep writing.


“Dialogue revisions,” she said.

DHow could you have a writing blog and not talk about dialogue on day four of the A to Z Blogging Challenge? Today I’ve got Harlow Fallon talking about the importance of dialogue. Here’s Harlow!

The most successful storytellers know the keys to a good story: an engaging plot, characters that come alive, action that jumps off the page, and a setting that spreads out before the reader, as real as any film or photo. The writing must be polished, with carefully chosen words and tight prose.

But there’s one vital aspect that threads through each of these elements: dialogue. It can either make or break a story. When dialogue is done well, readers feel as if they’re part of the conversation. When done poorly, it can throw readers out of the story or make them stop reading altogether.

A good dialogue between characters is a careful blend of three parts: the dialogue tags, the actual speech, and the actions that bring the conversation and the movement of the story together.

What does good dialogue look like? How does it work?

Let’s look at an example from an aspiring writer, Hummus Papadopoulos, who struggles with dialogue. He’s written a story about cookies. Here’s a snippet:

“I baked a batch of cookies yesterday,” Mary said.

“What kind of cookies did you bake?” Lisa asked.

“I baked chocolate chip cookies,” Mary said.

“Do you have any cookies left?” Lisa asked.

“No, I don’t have any left,” Mary said.

Hummus doesn’t understand how to use dialogue tags, and he’s used too many. The main purpose of tags is to identify who’s speaking. But tags can be useful in other ways. They can reveal the emotion of the speaker, and can contribute to the tension and pace of the story.

There’s a lot of writerly opinion going around these days that insists you limit your tags to the word said. It’s a simple, bland word that does the job and doesn’t get in the way of telling the story. I’m all for that. But I’m going to swim against the current a little and say that words like replied, inquired, yelled, whispered, retorted, and others, also have a place in dialogue. Just be sparing in their use. Do they lend depth to the dialogue? Do they fit the need? If they do, then why not use them? But remember, the key word is sparing.

Often there are natural pauses in a line of dialogue, and adding a tag at the pause instead of at the end will add emphasis to it, allowing the pause to become more significant because of the inserted tag.

Sometimes a tag isn’t needed at all. When the dialogue is between two people, too many tags can slow things down. Fewer tags can increase the pace and tension of the dialogue, but too few can confuse readers, pulling them out of the story while they try to figure out who said what. It’s important to find the right balance.

After a few revisions, Hummus’ dialogue tags are looking better:

“I baked a batch of cookies yesterday,” Mary said.

“You baked cookies?” Lisa said. “What kind of cookies did you bake?”

“I baked chocolate chip cookies.”

“Do you have any left?”

“No, I don’t,” Mary said. “I don’t have any cookies left.”

Something is still missing. The dialogue doesn’t sound natural. Why? Because it doesn’t reflect the way we normally converse. Natural speech incorporates a lot of what we would consider flaws in regular prose. There are sentence fragments, dropped consonants, even single word sentences.

So Hummus gives his dialogue another revision, and ends up with this:

“I baked a batch of cookies yesterday,” Mary said.

“Yeah?” Lisa said. “What kind?”

“Chocolate chip.”

“Any left?”

“Nope,” Mary said. “Ate them all.”

Hummus is finally getting somewhere. His dialogue is taking shape with proper tags and natural speech. But another element needs to be added. Gestures, action and exposition give depth and create balance and flow within the dialogue, so readers feel as if they are in the story, involved in the conversation. Without these things dialogue can feel dry and flat. Readers want to know what the characters are doing, thinking, and feeling while they’re talking.

So Hummus takes another stab at it:

“I baked a batch of cookies yesterday,” Mary said, grinning.

Lisa raised an eyebrow. “Yeah? What kind?”

“Chocolate chip.”

A twinge of concern edged into Lisa’s thoughts. Mary had sworn off sweets three days ago, determined to lose a few pounds. Had she given up already?

Lisa gave her a narrow look. “Any left?”

“Nope,” Mary said. “Ate them all.”

Lisa’s jaw dropped. “Are you kidding? What about your diet?”

“Whatever,” Mary said with a shrug. “I’ll start tomorrow.”

Hummus has made progress. He’s used proper tags, incorporated natural speech, and included gestures, action, and exposition. Hummus is on his way to writing a winner.

Don’t make dialogue work too hard. It should support the story. It shouldn’t be a vehicle for transporting huge chunks of information, nor should it make up the bulk of the narrative. There should be a balance of dialogue and exposition, of what is spoken aloud and what is revealed internally. Dialogue should lead readers in the direction the writer want them to go, contribute to the pace of the story, and reveal the personalities of the characters. Let the dialogue do its job, but handle it judiciously. The result will be a good, strong story that will make readers ask for more.


Harlow Fallon’s love of art and literature began when she was very young. She cut her teeth on The Wizard of Oz, and as a teen discovered the worlds of Ray Bradbury and Frank Herbert. Today, she channels her imagination into her own writing, fueled by the curiosities of the world and the mysteries of the universe. Science fiction and fantasy are her genres of choice. She and her husband have five grown children and have made Michigan their home for the past fifteen years. She released her first novel in February. All the Wild Places, Book 1 of the Elmwyn Journey is available on Amazon for Kindle. Book 2, The Reach of the Hand, will publish on April 7. Visit her at

Cindy here again.

Thanks for stopping by the blog. Great tips on dialogue. I’ll have to go back and check my dialogue.

Keep writing!

Confidence – do you have it?

CDay three and time for C! Today’s guest is Amy Bartelloni and she’s talking about having confidence in your writing. Here’s Amy!

You wouldn’t think it’s all that important in this business, but I was recently telling my 12 year old daughter (who probably doesn’t listen anyway,) that confidence is everything. She rides horses, I write. Apples to oranges, right? Not really.

Let me explain.

I’m a big believer in the power of positive thinking. Ever read the Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho? Well that’s a literal way of pushing you to go after your dreams, to believe in your dreams. Because how can you go after them if you don’t believe in them? And how can anyone else believe in them if you don’t? It took a big leap of faith for me to even start writing my stories down, and that was before I told anyone or shared them! I have a lifelong self-confidence problem, something I think a lot of us creative type people suffer from. But you have to start somewhere, and I started by writing for myself. Then a funny thing happened.

I lost myself in my stories. Sometimes, a lot of times, really, I have to go back and channel those days when I was writing for myself. Because it’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day work: the publicizing, the emails, the reviews, all the million other distractions, and forget that I do this because I love it. I love the stories. And it all started by taking that leap and having the confidence to write things down, even if they were only for me to see. And for a long time, they only were for me to see. I learned so much in those days, not just about writing but about believing in myself and believing in the story. I learned to stop worrying so much about what the other moms at PTO would think, because I have a story inside of me that’s clawing its way out. I have a story inside of me – how cool is that? I wrote it down just for me, and that was the first time I realized that I can do it. It’s only one step, though, and I had a long way to go.

Sharing my stories with the world is a whole different level. Or is it? Confidence inside and confidence outside are two sides of the same coin. Imagine my surprise at that little revelation. Because I was rejected. Rejected with a capital R. Rejected so many times that there’s not a file big enough to keep count. So many people give up at this point, but I have a natural born stubborn streak and I wasn’t going to let go. I lost faith, but I never lost what was important. I kept on writing. Even if there were days I didn’t believe in myself, I believed in those words. Slowly, very, very slowly, that started to show through. The rejections still hurt, don’t get me wrong, but I knew there was potential there. And I kept trying.

I don’t hear people talk about those down times, the times when you’re furiously writing and querying and you think you’re getting nowhere. I hated them. I hated questioning myself all the time. I hated thinking I was wasting my time. But when I look back, I couldn’t be where I am without them. The rejections and the practice built me up in ways I didn’t know I needed building. I became better. I learned the craft of writing, and I made friends in the reading and writing industry that have become some of my closest friends. I’m not saying this wouldn’t have happened if I had instant success, I’m saying I wasn’t ready for instant success. More than just the writing, I had to build me up.

I needed confidence.

I’m not saying I’ve gone out in the world and had huge success as a result of this, but I notice the difference. I’m not embarrassed anymore to tell people I write, I’m not scared to read my work in front of people. And the best part is – if people don’t like me or what I have to offer, I move along. I’ve discovered that there are plenty of other people who do like my writing, and the world is too short to harp on the negative.

So, my advice is to pay your dues. The more you read and write, the better you get at it. Do it because you love it, and remember that you love it. The more you believe in yourself, the more it will show to other people. And have confidence! You have something of value to offer the world. 🙂

Amy Bartelloni the author of the 3 book YA dystopian Andromeda series. She’s also a reader, writer, & coffee addict who lives with her husband, 3 children, and various animals in the northeast US. When she’s not playing mom-taxi, you can find her with her nose in a book or her head in the clouds. A people watcher and science fiction junkie, she still believes dreams can come true. Some of her favorite authors include Neil Gaiman, Jasper Fforde, Paulo Coelho, and Stephen King. She can be found on the web at

Find Amy on Twitter:

Cindy here again.

Thanks for stopping by the blog. I agree with Amy on the importance of confidence.

Keep writing!

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