A-Z Series: I Week

G (1)“You’ve got to get obsessed and stay obsessed.”
John Irving

Word of the Week: Inscient. Someone who has little or no knowledge of a situation can be described as inscient. Again referencing one of my works-in-progress, one of my characters is thought to be inscient of a grievous crime, and he goes to great lengths to keep it that way.

Tip of the Week: Imagination. It doesn’t exactly matter to me whether you are a fiction writer pounding out your best-seller, a non-fiction writer whose mission is to tell the truth of [enter historical event here], or a memoirist writing of all your fantastic life experiences. You’re a writer, therefore you are using your imagination, to some degree, to write your ideas down in such a way that people want to flip the page. I remember a lively debate once where a very artsy friend of mine was adamant that our imaginations are limitless, and another friend was equally as staunch in their position that our imaginations, while vast, are limited.

I don’t know about that, but I do know that sometimes my imagination gets stuck. I try to envision my fictitious worlds and my characters but for the life of me all I can think of is my rent and power bill, the groceries I don’t feel like going to get, and the email I forgot to respond to at work.

Aila, this sounds a lot like writer’s block, you say. Fine. Shut up. It isn’t easy coming up with something that starts with i.

Here are three tips for reviving a dead imagination:

1.| Play Minecraft, specifically in Creative Mode. It is your world to do with as you’d like. Build or destroy a city. Craft your very own underwater castle built of glass and watch the sea creatures from your bedroom. Set the world on fire and watch it burn one block at a time. Create a story for Pixelated You.

2.| Scroll your various social media pages and look for an interesting photograph. DO NOT READ THE CAPTION. Make up your own scenario for what is going on in the picture. Be as straightforward or as complex as you’d like.

3.| Watch a movie and imagine how the prose would read if it were a book. Critique the dialogue. Write your own internal dialogue for the climactic scenes.

Resource of the Week: I am going to preface this by saying I have not currently used the services from this company, but I will be very shortly and I will write a complete review at that time of my experience. IngramSpark is a print-on-demand company who offers a wide range of services to their customers and, from my research so far, offers an exceptionally professional end-product. 

Spotlight of the Week: 

Paul’s [Website] [Email]

Paul Ikin is an indie author from Melbourne, Australia. His debut novel The Other Side of Eve was self published in 2015 and is growing in popularity. Sort out by those that like dark fairytales, the strange and the magical. As a working illustrator & designer he crafted TOSoE from cover to cover, drew over 80 chapter illustrations and the surreal fantasy map of Mare-Marie; A project that took over six years. An avid traveler, Ikin wrote half of TOSoE while overseas living in Berlin. He is currently writing the prequel to TOSoE, while staying home to nurture his 7 month old son, Vincent.


1.) I am thoroughly enjoying The Other Side of Eve! When did you know you really had something special there? Was it after building a particular character? The world? A specific section of the book?

I’m so glad to hear you’re enjoying The Other Side of Eve.
The first draft will always be very special to me. It’s the raw, fluid, chaotic version, which took me years to write, when TOSoE was in my every thought day and night-it’s all I talked about. The main protagonists Eve & Belleny moved me to move them; they were on such different journeys, but each magical, connected and very special.

2.) I will admit I was initially mesmerized by the illustrations in TOSOE. Do you tend to illustrate your existing stories, or write stories for your existing illustrations? Where does the inspiration come from?

Thank you. I tend to illustrate for my existing stories. I feel I need to write about them first, to conjure the characters up in my minds eye and feel them, know them, shape them with words. Then drawing them comes easily, and I usually draw them first go. When I try writing about a character I had drawn first, there is little emotional connection, I feel lost, ‘Who are you?’. My characters know exactly who they are.

3.) What has been the biggest surprise since you decided to write with the intent of publication? What has been your biggest obstacle, and do you have any advice for other writers to help deal with that problem?

As an indie author I self published- what was I thinking! It was a very steep learning curve that continues to climb. I don’t recommend it unless you are committed to hours of learning about the hundreds of things a publishing house does, then attempt to do everyone’s job yourself.The biggest obstacle was getting TOSoE seen amongst the millions of other books. I gave up. Now I let the reader find Eve.

What helped, besides the kind reviews, was a simple website. It’s one good way to promote your book, you as a writer, and give the readers an insight into your world. All without having to speak a word, good news for most writers I know who would rather type than talk. I built my site on WordPress for free. They take time, but start small and build on it. In a year they become a beast in their own.

I also recommend getting an editor or two. I’ve been through a few after many mistakes were missed. I enjoy the process and getting a fresh set of eyes over my work, it can do it wonders. I made the mistake by publishing too early, don’t jump the gun, make sure your book is super tight before pressing publish. The revised version of The Other Side of Eve is now available and all ebooks are updated automatically.

Also for indie authors I recommend using both Createspace & Ingram Spark combined. Ingram Spark make beautiful hardcovers that Createspace don’t provide. They are high quality and you’ll be proud to see your beautiful story wrapped in cloth and a tight book jacket; A proud version to have in your own personal library.

4.) If you could have dinner with any author in history, who would it be, why, and what would you hope to take away from the experience?

I would like to have dinner with Clive Barker. I am fond of his horror writings, notably turned into movies such as Hellraiser & Nightbreed, but his fantasy novels are what inspire me, these are the books that started me on my own writing journey; Imajica, Abarat, Cabal, The Geat and Secret Show, Weaveworld, to name a few of my favorites. He is also a great illustrator of his characters, seen in many of his books.
Some of his influences are also mine, such as H.P. Lovecraft. Edgar Allan Poe, Ray Bradbury.

I would hope to get an insight into his writing practice, as I know mine is quite intense.

5.) What’s a little-known fact about you? Explain or elaborate. (Special talents, non-writing hobbies, etc.)

In my 20’s I ran a collectable toy shop specializing in 80’s toys. It was a bit like staring in a geeky movie and a lot of fun. As a writer I’m highly inspired by 80’s culture, cartoons and movies. It helps as an author & illustrator to get submerged in it at all times. Now I’m a new dad I look forward to watching entire series of cartoons all over again with my son. Good times ahead.

*I* am so glad you joined me again this week! Have a fantastic Monday and HAPPY WRITING! Or sad, morose writing… if that’s your thing. 😉


A-Z Series: Week H

G.png“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
-Ernest Hemingway

Word of the Week: Hellkite. A hellkite is someone who is extremely cruel. Think Hitler and Stalin. This is one of those words, while rare, someone is likely to understand its meaning without having to search for a dictionary as long as it is used in the proper context.

Tip(s) of the Week: Homonyms. Just in case there is anyone out there who doesn’t know what homonyms are, they are words that sound the same but are spelled differently and have different meanings, and they can also be words that are spelled the same, sound the same, but still have different meanings. Nine times out of ten, it’s the first kind that trip us up.

Do you ever scroll through your Twitter or Facebook feeds and see sentences like: “I don’t know witch I hate worse…” or “It doesn’t matter weather you believe it…” If you don’t see these things, you’re in the minority. The problem is we rely so heavily on our gadgetry to find our mistakes, we often don’t pay it attention if we change one word out for the other. Most of the time our various word processors will find these and call them to our attention. But that isn’t always the case. Pay attention to these kinds of errors when you’re proofing your own work and if you’re beta reading for someone else and you notice them.

Hangups. I felt compelled to write a little something about writing hangups. Specifically the lack of desire to finish a project. It is super easy to get distracted by the myriad of things life constantly throws at us. Unless you have an agent or publisher beating down your door and pressing you to meet deadlines, it is more likely that your writing takes place between meal times with your family, grocery shopping, doctor appointments and getting your tires rotated. It is easy to push back what isn’t a necessity–and I am not suggesting you let your kids starve in order to finish that chapter you’ve been hung up on. But, I just want to encourage you to find the time. Write on your phone while you’re waiting on the doctor or for your mechanic. Ask your spouse or your teenage kid (trust me, this is a skill too few know and they really should learn!) to cook dinner once or twice a week just to give you a little extra time to polish up your prose. You have a story to tell, and quite frankly, I want to read it.

Resource of the Week: HyperGrammar. Are you ready for this? The University of Ottawa offers this free [non-credit] grammar course online! Perhaps it has been a while since you were in school and really had to know this stuff, but now that you want to be a professional writer, you want to brush up… but scrounging up the time to write is hard enough on its own, and there is no way you can make it down to your local college for continuing education classes. Fear not! U of Ottawa has you covered. The page currently says it is under construction and advises that some elements may be missing, but I’ve clicked through it and I believe if this is something you’d like to pursue to better your writing, it is well worth checking out!

Now, HyperGrammar doesn’t have a video on YouTube, so instead I am sharing another grammar video that I find pretty stinking hilarious and educational. You’ll probably laugh but you most definitely will not literally explode from laughing. Watch it, you’ll get it.

Spotlight of the Week: I did ask someone to participate as this week’s spotlight, but once they declined I didn’t have the opportunity to seek out a replacement. Which sucks. So I’m going to just put out an open invitation to anyone who is reading this, if you’re interested in being interviewed for this section of my weekly posts, please feel free to send me a message on Twitter. There are some weeks that are already filled up, but if you’re interested, I will keep a running list and will happily interview you at a later time.

Thanks for stopping in! I hope you all have a fantastic week and, as always, happy writing!


A-Z Series: Week G

G“A story has no beginning or end: arbitrarily one chooses that moment of
experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead.”
Graham Greene

Word of the Week: Grandisonant means something sounds pompous. Someone might talk with a grandisonant vocabulary (which one could argue the word grandisonant in itself matches its definition!) or perhaps it might describe the music in a restaurant.

Tip of the Week: Genres! I suppose it goes without saying, but I’ll say it again anyway: There are differing opinions on what I’m going to say about genres—but that’s not going to stop me.

If you’re writing as a hobby, then genre may not matter to you as much. You get an idea, you write until your writer’s heart is contented and make no apologies for it. But, if you’re writing with the intention of selling your work, then your genre is probably very important to you. This is how your readers are going to find you initially. As much as I would love to think there are hordes of people out there just itching to search Amazon for my book, that is just not how it works. People will search for their favorite genre and hopefully, if I’m very lucky (and I’ve done a decent job of marketing), they will find me someday.

I hear you. “But, Aila… my book’s got love in it, it’s a romance novel, right?”

Maybe. Maybe not. My book Sex, Love & Technicalities has a very romantic story in it, but that’s not really the point of the novel. It’s about a woman who is facing turning thirty and realizing she’s not very happy in her life and at the same time her restaurant burns down, someone has died, and her past is coming back to complicate things even further. There are a couple of subplots, like dealing with family health issues and a stifling mother/daughter relationship. Sure, my main character falls in love and has a love life… but I wouldn’t call it a romance novel. It’s women’s fiction.

So don’t take the time to write an entire novel just to slap on the first genre tag that comes to mind. Are you writing a fantasy novel? or are you writing a post-apocalyptic steampunk fantasy novel? Is it sci-fi, or perhaps historical science fiction?

Click here to read up on the astounding number of literary genres.

Resource of the Week: Grammar Girl. I don’t know of a single writer who isn’t in need of help with their grammar, at least occasionally. Have you checked out Grammar Girl? If you’re looking for help from someone with stellar references, this woman has plenty. Her advice is easy to read and comprehend… and she’s just simply fun! I wanted to share a video from her YouTube collection, and I chose this one specifically. Why? Because in SL&T my main character gets annoyed at the whole “espresso” vs. “expresso” pronunciation debate, also the video was posted on my birthday which apparently happens to be National Coffee Day, and that just makes me very happy.

Catch her on Twitter, too!

Spotlight of the Week: Lo-arna Green!

Lo-arna is an Australian author who believes in happily ever after (most of the time) and some of the time participates in reality.

|Twitter| |Website|  |Facebook|

Lo-arna was very generous and answered our questions for today. If you don’t already know her, she’s a delight!

1.) In which genre do you predominately write? What interests you in it particularly?

Mainly romance. I like to add extra flavours in though so it’s not just that same old formula. My first novel had mystery as an added element and the second went into Domestic Violence and the effects of abuse.

2.) What is your biggest motivator?

I spend a lot of time procrastinating but when that idea begins to burn up, nothing gets in my way.

3.) What has been your biggest challenge in the entire writing process and what advice would you give others to make it easier for them?

Quite honestly, exposure. I am a needle in a haystack. Come find me people, hello! *waves frantically* Advice? Write from the heart, don’t give up and just be fully aware your writing won’t be for everyone, but for some, it will make them cry, laugh and they may take away something from your writing and apply it to their own lives.

4.) Would you rather have dinner with Shakespeare, Hemingway, Twain or Asimov? What would you say to them?

Shakespeare. I don’t know what I would say though. I would struggle to form words. Maybe I could write something down on post-it notes.

5.) What’s a little-known fact about you? Explain or elaborate. (Special talents, non-writing hobbies, etc.)

I know when people are lying and it is super awkward.

As always, thank you for stopping by! See you next week, writers!


A-Z Series: Week F

F“If a story is in you, it must come out.”
-William Faulkner

Word of the Week: 
Feckless. Someone who is feckless is weak, helpless and feeble. Maybe they’re feckless due to old age, an accident, or perhaps they’re just scared of everything. Literature has been brimming with feckless characters throughout history, some stay that way, but others grow into powerful characters through the circumstances their writers put them through.

Tip of the Week: Fight scenes. You’ve been building tension between your protagonist and your antagonist for umpteen chapters. Everything has been beautifully building up to the moment when they finally meet to throw punches, cross blades, have an old-fashioned shootout at the saloon, or a battle for the ages amongst the stars—I don’t know, it’s your story.

Now that the moment is here, you lay it all out meticulously. You do not want the reader to miss a single sidestep, you want them to know exactly the way in which The Light Prince grips his sword.

Don’t. Just don’t. Your reader does not need to know, nor do they care, that your antagonist took three and a half steps to the right and then stumbled two feet backwards when the four-foot blade of your protagonist struck his shield which weighed 17.25 pounds. That minutia might matter to you, it might help you visualize the fight in your head – but what matters to your reader is the emotion in the scene.

Let your reader feel the bitter torment in the pit of The Light Prince’s stomach as he plunges his sword, the one his father bequeathed to him, into his brother’s, The Dark Prince, chest.

Sure, you can let the saloon tables and chairs fly as our hero cowboy has had enough of the crooked Sheriff’s dirty tricks. Demolish the place. Let us see our hero’s anger and fury, but perhaps we don’t need to know that he tossed twelve chairs and three tables – just chairs and tables. Let your reader create much of the scene for themselves.

Most importantly, the side effect of not focusing on the smallest physical details of the fight is that you’ll be more likely to use the fight or action scene as a way to further the plot. The crooked Sheriff, in a fit of rage, shouts out a secret that will help our cowboy save the town… the Dark Prince admits he’s actually a girl and the Light Prince’s sister with her dying breath… you get the idea. This will have a much bigger impact if your reader hasn’t just sludged through paragraph after paragraph of useless directions and units of measurement.

Through the powers of the internet and YouTube, I am going to employ Jenna Moreci to tell you even more about fight scenes. Be forewarned, if foul language offends you, don’t watch.

I love her vlog.

Resource of the Week: FirstWriter. [Also find them on Twitter here.] This website has pretty much one goal: Turning writers into authors. You can find countless resources here from agent listings to writing competitions to editorial services. Need to learn about copyrighting and why that is important essential to you as a writer? FirstWriter explains it.  Having all of this information in one place is quite handy.

Spotlight of the Week: Some of you know her as perhaps the most powerful chipmunk on the planet Earth. This week I am pleased to introduce you to—as if you don’t already know her—Rebecca Frohling! She’s a writer, actress, and a mother who knows and understands the importance of caffeine!

1.| In what genre do you write?

About the only consistency to my work is the format it takes: plays and short stories. I can’t seem to break from that, as of yet. As to the plots and such, I tend to follow whatever idea happens to strike; definitely not the sort to plot things out, I like discovering the story as I go. That said, an awfully large amount of my works end up having a twist or two- I do like to take the audience by surprise, or at least make the attempt.

2.) Of all the characters you have created, which would you most like to spend the day with? Why them and what would be on the itinerary?

Ooh, tough one. I don’t want my characters to feel slighted! But, put to the wall, my shortlist would be:

a. Zoe Grackowski- 11 y.o. special effects artist, enthusiastic and optimistic

b. Heaven Ravenscroft- lead singer for the Undead Hillbillies, the number one industrial goth bluegrass band in the county, also enthusiastic, optimistic, and rather spacey

c. Declan Patterson- unemployed actor (but I repeat myself) TOTALLY not addicted to pills, ditto the enthusiasm and optimism (I love characters like these)

d. Bev Swenson- Senior Aunt who dispenses wisdom and highly outlandish stories about her life

e. Conrad Belvidere- antisocial inventor; not much of a conversationalist, but I just loooove him so much!

3.) What is your biggest source of frustration with the whole writing process, and do you have tips for other writers to overcome it?

Biggest source of frustration for me, being a stay-at-home mom of three, is getting time to have a coherent thought, let alone write! Can’t help others with that much, I’m afraid. I have read that many have problems with writer’s block. I don’t; because I generally have around 30 (not a typo) projects going simultaneously. If one’s not working, I just switch to another. It keeps those mind wheels going.

4.) If you could have dinner with any author in history, who would it be, why, and what would you hope to take away from the experience?

Oh gosh, another difficult choice! I’m going to go with non-fiction writer Margaret Visser. Her anthropological or sociological or what-have-you works on the origins and history of everyday items/rituals are brilliantly absorbing. Every paragraph holds so much information. The woman wrote a whole book on why we say thank you! And it was fascinating!

5.) What’s a little-known fact about you? Explain or elaborate. (Special talents, non-writing hobbies, etc.)

How about my story of rubbing elbows with fame? 😃  I have a degree in film- not unusual or even unknown in itself, and I didn’t use it for much. But I did get to intern, right out of college, for one weekend on the filming of a children’s video. It starred a very young pre-known Mandy Moore (didn’t meet her, they filmed her scenes before I got there), and Butch Patrick of The Munsters fame. Lovely man, very professional, said the basement where we were working was “just like Grandpa’s” lab or shop or whatever (I haven’t really watched the show). Also, Luke Halprin (of the show Flipper) was the cinematographer. I was too shy at the time to talk to either of them, but at least I have a story to tell!

Thank you so much for stopping in for Week F! Gee, I sure hope to see you next week!


20 Things About Me

20 Things About Me
“Stop trying to be less of who you are. Let this time in your life cut you open and

drain all of the things that are holding you back.”
-Jennifer Elisabeth

I was just tagged by the beautiful and talented Mollie (you can find her amazing blog here) to list twenty facts ab0ut myself. I am not going to include my various British obsessions or anything that has to do with my current writing endeavors. I’ll do my best to be interesting!

1.| I’m allergic to bacon. Okay, so technically I am allergic to sodium nitrate, but if I tell that to pretty much anyone, they have no idea what I’m talking about so I tend to just list a few things like bacon, ham, pepperoni, etc. Then I’m met with lots of pity. Then I’m always asked if I am a vegetarian. I only shell out the dough for nitrate-free varieties on occasion because that sh*t’s expensive. (Extra bit: I nearly died from a hotdog when I was in kindergarten.)

2.| I used to speak competitively. From giving speeches to extemporaneous speaking. I once went to a speech competition and had little more than fumes in my gas tank and not a dime to my name and won enough money to get me through to my next paycheck.

3.| I was in The World Trade Center exactly six months before 9/11/2001 and said to a friend it would “be really bad if there were an earthquake or something” that took the building down.

4.| I was once sent to the principal’s office for doing drugs in class. The drug? Tums. Could’ve been Rolaids, but I’m pretty sure it was Tums. The principal laughed.

5.| I don’t like pizza. I know, let the hating begin. And I don’t like chicken wings, either.

6.| I love antique furniture. I have three large pieces that are family heirlooms from early to mid-1800’s, and I am not looking forward to the day they fall apart.

7.| I have planned a Disney World vacation almost every year since I entered adulthood because my parents could never afford to take me… and apparently I am repeating their tradition, because I have still never been.

8.| I stole a pack of chewing gum when I was about four years old. I asked my mom if she wanted a piece when we got in the car… so obviously I was caught. The store manager didn’t have the heart to be mad and against my mother’s wishes, he bought it for me.

9.| When I was 17, I was accidentally an arsonist. A friend of mine had claimed an old barn on her dad’s property as her own and was showing it to me and a few others, and we lit candles and missed one when we were putting them out. That sucker went down to the ground, and try as they might to prove it was drug related – it really wasn’t.

10.| I like my dark chocolate around 72-78%. I like my white chocolate not to exist.

11.| I used to ride horses all the time until a horrific accident with yellow jackets. I was stung countless times including on my eye, which swelled to the size of a tennis ball and required heavy rounds of steroids. I would love to ride again.

12.| I’m from The South, but I rarely ever drink sweet tea (I prefer mine hot), and I can’t remember the last time I had fried chicken.

13.| I once hired someone who had typed “I am Batman.” on the bottom of their resume.

14.| I can play the French horn and the trumpet.

15.| As a teenager I wrote three poems that were published in two different volumes of poetry. They were written during a particularly dark time in my life – and not the typical dark times of a teenager – and I’ve never been able to replicate the feeling that went into them, so poetry is not something I write often anymore. Unfortunately, I cannot disclose the poems, as they were published under my real name.

16.| I’m one of, if not the, last in my group of friends who doesn’t have children.

17.| I used to be on a jump rope squad called “The Ropesters.”

18.| When I was about 10, I was sure I wanted to be a journalist. I went to a summer camp held by a newspaper and loved every minute of it.

19.| I love gardening and growing food. I hope to have my own hobby farm or homestead some day.

20.| I was the envy of all the girls my 8th-grade year because I met Bryan Datillo and had a picture of him kissing my cheek.

Crikey! Coming up with twenty things was more challenging than I expected. Thanks for stopping by and please check out my A-Z Series!