Tick Road Revelations

Tick Road“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
-Winston Churchill

Some time ago, I took my parents on a day trip through the mountains. My dad isn’t in the best of health has really bad health problems; most, but not all, of which stem from a massive stroke back in 2007.

On this particular day trip, my father wanted to find a needle in a haystack, really. A road by which he knew by another name. Tick Road. You couldn’t ask anyone: “Hey, where’s Tick Road?” Because they would look at you with some degree of pity. This road is one my father remembered as beautiful and one he really wanted to rediscover. We didn’t find Tick Road that day.

I also didn’t find Tick Road a few weeks later when I went to search for it, either. Even with my husband in tow. Now, what makes this exceptionally odd is that Tick Road stems off of another road (but so do about a bazillion other roads) and I knew exactly where that road was. That road wasn’t hard to find, and it too was a stunning stretch of asphalt through the mountainside. But that road wasn’t Tick Road.

Yesterday, my book was available for purchase. I had planned on yesterday being a celebratory day despite the fact I didn’t actually predict I’d sell anything. Let’s be honest, for a lot of us the simple fact our work is complete and up for sale is celebration enough. But, as I’ve already told a few people, my launch day was nightmarish. The content of the book wasn’t my problem. The presentation of it was. I’m a Type A. I’m OCD. I’m a perfectionist. Whatever. I’ve worked on this story for a year. I’ve shed tears over this book. I’ve had gnarly paper cuts, blissful dreams and night terrors over this book. I’ve gained friends and lost friends over this book. I love this book.

Getting the eBook to look the way I want is apparently going to be some kind of Apocalypse Now undertaking.

[Sorry! I got sidetracked. Back to Tick Road.]

So, I had to get out of my house today. It wasn’t an option. Do you ever get that way? It was like the very walls were choking me and I had to throw on the first clothes I came to and just bolt. I had no idea where I was going. Honestly, Tick Road was not even on my radar when I set out. I know this, because coffee was on my radar when I set out.

Once I had my coffee, I discovered I had exactly a half-tank of gas, no phone charger, and 48% battery. So at first I thought I’d just go downtown. SCREW traffic. No, thank you.

So, I headed out of the city. I thought about going to the tiny little town where my grandmother had lived, getting some drive-thru lunch and having a solo picnic… but before I realized it, the mountains were off in the distance, and there was no debate anymore.

I went to Pumpkintown. (Yes, that’s a place.) I skirted places called Caesar’s Head, Table Rock, and realized Jones Gap would make the trifecta!

The higher I climbed in elevation, the less bummed I was about my imperfect eBook design.

I almost missed the road for Jones Gap, but once I was on it, I remembered how many times I went up and down this road with my parents looking for Tick Road, and suddenly I had a mission and I decided even if I had to call roadside assistance (assuming my battery held out) because I’d run out of gas, I was not leaving that road until I #$&%=+! found Tick Road.

Three trips up and down the way, turning the heads of farm laborers and the retired people living along that road who apparently check their mailboxes fourteen times a day—but I found it!

I discovered I had slightly less than a quarter-tank of gas left, somewhere in the 30ish percentile of phone battery… but ahead of me was the famed Tick Road. It was easy to stop in the middle of the lane and contemplate what to do, because I hadn’t seen another car in nearly a half-hour. Shortest debate of my life, probably.

At the crest of Tick Road, the temperature was about five degrees cooler than at its base, and I still didn’t know how much farther the road would take me. My gas needle hadn’t moved much, and I still had a need in my bones to keep going.

When I came out at the other side, the vast improvement of the road conditions told me I might not be in South Carolina anymore, and oh! those  mountains took my breath away. I knew my elation was to be short lived, and that I really needed to head home. The majority of the way back, I talked to myself… yes I do that (and luckily, with the popularity of Bluetooth, my random roadmates don’t know I’m crazy!)

My journey to Tick Road today reminded me that I may be a lot of things, but I am not a quitter. In fact, I am pretty hard headed and stubborn, and even though I have to turn around a lot and I may have to go back to where I started: I will eventually find where I am going. Even if I have to do it alone.




Author Interviews @AilaStephens #weekendBlogShare #writer #author

I was so honored to sit in Lucy’s red chair today! She is an absolutely fabulous lady and writer!


Author Interviews

Welcome to my weekly blog series – Author Interviews. 

Each week I ask authors to take a seat in my red interview chair and tell me about how they wrote their first novel, what challenges they encountered, the writing best practices that work for them and the most important question of all – what do they wear whilst writing?

This week I am squealing with author excitement, as Aila Stephens has agreed to sit in my chair! I am reading Aila’s new book at the moment and bedtime reading sessions have changed. I have not had the chance to speak to my loved one across the pillows, as I have been so engrossed with Aila’s book. Luckily he has found comfort in a spy thriller.

So, let me welcome the amazing Aila Stephens to my red chair!

Hey Aila!  Sit down, make yourself comfortable and help yourself to my homemade

View original post 1,740 more words

Getting To Know Aila, Tips, Writer's Life

Ten Writerly Lessons

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
-Benjamin Franklin

There are only FIVE days until the release of Sex, Love, and Technicalities. That’s… terrifying. I thought I would take this time to share with you ten things I’ve learned over the course of this past year—the good, the awful, and the ghastly.

1. | HOLY CRAP BALLS – WRITING IS HARD. Okay, so not physically hard. Unless you think sitting in a chair for long stretches of time is a strain. (For the record, I know several people who actually do find this difficult.) But, a lot goes into writing a full-length novel, and sometimes I want to pull my hair out.

2.| There are more tools than MS Word. I can hear some of you snickering, but this isn’t something that had ever occurred to me before I got serious about writing. I’ve dabbled with several programs and Scrivener is just amazing. Even if you want to stick to Word, I highly suggest using ProWritingAid instead of relying on Word’s less than stellar grammar help.

3. | Patience is key. I am not a naturally patient person. I get that from my father. But take it from someone who is admitting to this embarrassment: Being impatient can be costly. I started buying promotional items before the second redraft. Yep. I did that. You know what happened shortly afterwards? I changed the name of the book. And pushed back my release date. Anyone want a useless, highly inaccurate bookmark?

4.| The writing community is a vast, packed, and lonely place. I had an idea of how large the writing community was, but it wasn’t until I dipped my quill inside the well that I realized just how massive. I’ve met some incredible people, forged some priceless friendships… but there are a lot of people to compare yourself to. And for me, a naturally negative person, sometimes the very beauty of this community can leave me breathlessly lonesome.

5.| Build your brand before you type “Once Upon A Time…” If you’re serious about becoming a published author, by any means necessary, it is essential for you to build your author brand. I claim no expertise on the subject, I just know it is something you have to start early.

6.| Ideas will pop up at the worst times. I sort of knew this before. But before I got serious about writing, I could let go of these story ideas without much of a second thought. After all, I assumed I’d never use them. Oh, but now! now these precious gems of ideas crop up and I’m finely tuned into them. It doesn’t matter if I’m just drifting to sleep or in the middle of a conversation. Not getting to jot these ideas down is almost blasphemous.

7.| Doing bad things to my characters actually hurts. I revealed this tidbit to a non-writer friend, and they just couldn’t understand. “You do know they’re fictional, right?” Yes. But they’re my creations and I have just turned their world upside down and dumped a bucket of shit on top. Doesn’t mean I don’t fully understand that I have to do this, but sometimes after writing some particularly heavy scenes, a girl just needs to watch Doctor Who.

8.| Browsing Barnes and Noble becomes difficult different. Don’t get me wrong, I still do this on the regular, but once you are knee deep in publication decisions, you start to analyze books for things other than just their content. Oh my God! I LOVE that font! Where can I get *that* font?! Others in the vicinity will notice that you’ve adopted Gollum’s stance and are stroking a particularly pretty book and… well, you get the idea.

9.| I get insanely excited for my writer friends’ successes. There is nothing I like more than to see my writer friends achieving their goals. I’m not necessarily talking about publication, either. I like seeing them blow past a word count record, tackling and defeating a difficult chapter, getting the guts to query agents. It’s all worth celebrating. I love when someone sends me something to read. It makes me giddy! Which brings me to…

10.| Writers are without a doubt some of the brightest, loveliest, and bravest people on the planet Earth. You offer pieces of yourself up on the page for people to scrutinize. You want to change the world with your ideas. You give encouragement and hope with your words. You create your own worlds and realities and shine light on important subjects. You are amazing.

That’s ten things, of many, I have learned over the past year. Thank you all so much for being the awesome, crazy, amazing, badass people you are.

If you’re interested in getting your own signed copy of Sex, Love, and Technicalities, I am hosting a sweepstakes giveaway on Viral Sweep, and I am SUPER excited! There is no purchase necessaryWIN, but unfortunately it is only open to US residents. There are multiple ways to earn extra entries! I do hope you will enter to win—and share with your friends! (Actually, that’s one way of earning extra entries!) For entry and the full details please see either the ViralSweep site or my website. Thanks in advance!


Announcement, Uncategorized, Writer's Life, Writing

SL&T: It’s Getting Close

I’m taking a little reprieve from the A-Z Series. I’ll pick it up again in the first week of August, and I’ll post a few each week to get caught up. Let me say that I have really enjoyed writing that series so far. It has given me the chance to get to know some seriously cool authors and read some amazing work, but I have a few really good reasons for the break:

1.| I should launch a new website this week. It’s actually ready and awaiting publication, but I’ve changed hosting companies and I’m waiting for them to sort their crap out. (When this launches, I will be giving the novelette No More Running, prequel to SL&T, away to mailing list subscribers for free!) I am toying around with merging the blog straight into this website, but for now, I will still use Wordpress for all my blogging.

2.| I have my book completely laid out and ready for publication as well, both for an eBook format and for paperback. I, being the OCD person I am, am having one last go through the book, reading it on different media and aloud making the tiniest little adjustments, but I have to force myself to have a cutoff for this, and I’m looking at Wednesday. If I don’t give myself a cutoff, I will be stuck in this stage for the rest of my days.

3.| As per reason #2, I have been spending an exorbitant amount of time getting my cover, spine, and back cover designs the way I’d like them, which means I had to write a short Author Bio, and I am not exaggerating in the least when I say I would rather write a hundred novels than Cover Design.pnga single paragraph about myself.

The cover has evolved many times. Generally speaking, I create cover art for each of my books. I’m not sure why exactly, but it has become a part of my process. Each of the covers I have created have been designed in Canva, with a little tweaking in Photoshop afterward.

Whenever I work through a difficulty in a scene, I  just tinker around with the corresponding cover design until I have it figured out. If I had to guess, this would be version 483.7, or somewhere in that vicinity. 😉

In anticipation of the book’s release, I thought I would take an opportunity to tell you a little bit of the behind the scenes information about the book and give a quick introduction to my main character’s family… and reveal which actors or actresses most frequently played them in my mind. Yes. I said that. (I’m only admitting to what every single one most of us do!)

| By the numbers|

The first draft of SL&T was about 82k words and it took me a whopping eleven days to write. Interestingly, my most productive day was 11k words. Also, the original chapter eleven was slashed from the book first. There was just something about the number eleven. I was very fortunate to have the time off from work which allowed me to write so much in such a short amount of time. I was also lucky that my husband didn’t walk out with as much as I talked about it and with the sheer volume of ideas I bounced off of him. I was very motivated to write this book. Now the book sits at around 76k words, broken into 40 quick chapters.

I knew early on in this book that it was going to have a sequel, which I’ve already gotten through about 1/3 of the way. I had gotten through it about 1/2 way, but then I had an epiphany about the way SL&T ended, and I rewrote so much, the sequel had to change shape. Well worth it in the end. I’m much happier with SL&T’s ending now.

| Other Tidbits – Warning: Contains Spoilers, however minimal |
While this book is a far, far cry from autobiographical, there are a few parallels between myself and the main character, Briella Logan. Brie, as she’s called for short, is a chef. I’m a chef. She struggles with turning thirty. I unexpectedly fell apart over turning thirty. She struggles with whether or not she wants to continue being a chef. I had the same struggle. She’s very close with her father, who has precarious health problems. I’m very close with my dad, who has been in poor health since I can remember. (Brie’s dad calls her Pumpkin, my dad calls me Chickadee.)

The numbers in my book are [mostly] from something significant in my life. For example, the number 927 shows up in the book. That number is the date of my father’s very first heart attack.

| Introducing The Logans |

Briella LoganBrie is the head chef of a popular restaurant called Table Twelve, she’s a workaholic who has been avoiding any sort of social life for quite a while, save for her best friend John. She lives alone in an apartment with a view of the water and the city of Nashville. She enjoys wine and British television. On the occasion she does go out with friends after work, she drinks to excess—something she hides from her well-to-do mother, Deidra. [Among many, Rachel Bilson probably had this role most often.]

Deidra Logan: Is somewhat of a socialite in Nashville, especially amongst the ladies in her Bible study group. She has high standards for her family, and generally isn’t shy about letting her daughter know when she isn’t living up to them. She’s a bit of a worrywart when it comes to her husband, and is known for elaborating. [Geena Davis or Sela Ward]

Geoffrey Logan: The head of the Logan family, Geoffrey, usually finds himself trying to keep some sort of tranquility in his family, as he is usually put in the middle between his wife and daughter’s arguments. He is a very calm, rational man who loves the outdoors and taught Briella early on the pleasures of camping and fishing. He enjoys golf as his health allows. [Kevin Costner. I don’t know why.]

I am brimming with so much excitement as this whole process is coming to a close, I am having to restrain myself from dropping some major spoilers. If you have previously checked out the prologue, which can be found here, please check it out again. Things have changed a bit.

As ever, thank you for stopping in. Sex, Love, and Technicalities will be available this month, and you can bet there will be some giveaways centered around the launch, so check back!



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!


A-Z Series: E Week

E.png“Without ambition one starts nothing. Without work one finishes nothing.
The prize will not be sent to you. You have to win it.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Word of the Week: 
Emprise. If you send your characters into new, interesting lands and have them face fantastic creatures – both friend and foe – perhaps they must cross mystic rivers and converse with soothsayers… you’ve just sent them on an emprise, or adventurous undertaking.

Tip of the Week: 
Editing! Some people absolutely love the editing process even more than they do the writing process. Can you imagine?! For most people, however, ‘edit’ would be a four-letter word, even if it didn’t have four letters if you know what I mean. Whether you love or hate the editing process, though, one thing is certain: it is mandatory.

I can pretty much guarantee if you spend five minutes browsing the samples of self-published books on Amazon, you’ll be able to find one or two where the editing process was obviously skipped. Even some best sellers published by highly credible publishing houses still seem lacking in the editing department; it seems no one is immune. So what do we do? What should the editing process look like?

It’s different for pretty much every author. You have to find what works for you, and there is a lot of advice floating around out there, and in here, that will not work for you. Here are three steps I take while editing that you may find useful to you. [Beta Readers are a vital step, but they’ve already been mentioned. You can read more about my editing process here.]

         • Let it be. When you’re done with your draft, set it aside for a week, two weeks, or even a month if you need it. You’ve spent your days and nights with this baby and you aren’t yet ready to see its faults. You need to reset and come back with fresh eyes. This is hard, but can work wonders.

            • Print it out. I get sick of looking at a computer screen. When someone first told me to print out a chapter or two and see what a difference it would make on how many mistakes I could find, I scoffed. I didn’t think it would be significant, and to top it off, I figured it a waste of time and resources. After all, once I found a mistake and was editing on the screen, I could just fix it and forget it, right? Turns out, this really works well for me. I see so much more on paper than I do on screen. Plus, it makes my third tip much easier.

            • Read it aloud. Yes, I mentioned this last week when I talked about dialogue. Some people will only do this for their dialogue because reading an entire novel aloud is  somewhat daunting and requires lots of hydration. I suggest settling in with a bottle of water and doing it anyway because you will hear errors your eyes will never see. Not only will you find grammatical errors but sometimes things just really sound weird even when they’re grammatically correct.

Resource of the Week: 
During B Week, I talked about a mind-mapping site that could help you organize your thoughts and ideas. This week, I bring you Evernote! Need to make to-do lists on something other than a scrap of paper you’ll lose faster than it took you to find? Evernote has you covered. See something while browsing the web that motivates you, or is a vital piece of research? Evernote has your back on that. Want to create a library of images of inspiration sources for your stories or characters? Yep, Evernote is going to do all of that and more and tie it up in a nice, neat package that you can access from anywhere. Want to collaborate? You see where I’m going with this, right? Evernote is such an amazing organizational tool you’ll feel like you’ve hired an assistant.

Spotlight of the Week:  
It didn’t take me long to decide who I wanted to interview for E-week. I knew it would sort of be breaking the rules because his last name maybe-probably-didn’t-surely-wouldn’t start with an E, but I’d always thought of him as somewhat enigmatic and someone people would love to know more of. If you don’t follow Entrebat on Twitter, you are missing out! [Facebook] [Google+] [Blog] Without further adieu, I am pleased to introduce you to Gary Weller!

EntrebatGary E. Weller is a Role-playing Game enthusiast, recreational traveler, and lover of all things geeky from Tucson, Arizona. Between regular office work, life in the desert southwest, doting on his two cats, and wife, he writes poetry, flash fiction, short stories, and other musings at his blog which he affectionately calls, ‘The Repository.’

1.) What inspired you to write? What genres come easily for you and which ones are most difficult?

I’ve always wanted to write. I’ve been making up stories since I was little. I think I was fascinated by my mother’s typewriter and the sheer presence of it. I don’t remember the model, but I remember smelling the ink and the machine oil. I remember the weight and bulk of it. Mostly I remember the sound of the keys and the mechanical levers moving to press out my words onto white paper.

The genres that come easiest for me are Sci-Fi and Fantasy. I grew up reading them. I always wanted to rush into those other worlds in order to escape my mundane existence. Southern New Mexico and West Texas held no sway in comparison to where Piers Anthony or Poul Anderson could take me.

Comedy is difficult for me to get right. It is a beast of its own making with up’s, down’s, and a timing that I sometimes just cannot comprehend. While I appreciate what comedy writers can do, I often fail at replication of their talents. Often it comes off as middle-aged cantankerousness when I try to be funny in prose.

2.) What does your editing process look like? Do you have any tips?

My editing process consists of holding myself at bay to hit the ‘launch’ button. My truly successful stories have been written over a week’s time and then left to stew. When I come back to read it, I can find the flow much better than when it was fresh.

Barring that, reading the piece aloud certainly helps. Odd uses of wording come out rather easily when translating the words into sound. Dialogue that sounds off can be noticed as well.

3.) Do you have a preference on when or where you write?

I like to write early in the morning, when the world seems to be sleeping. It’s just me and the words then. We commune over a cup of coffee and begin our work into something magical. It doesn’t matter what I’m writing because it is the right time to do so. It is the release of energy that comes from the universe through me to the page.

4.) Would you rather have breakfast with Poe, Whitman, Bronte or Melville? What would be your first question to them?

I think I would identify more with Poe. He has a melancholy that relates to me. The morass of dankness that surrounds his stories is on par for what I see around the world if I let my mind go into that mode. I can sense the wickedness and insanity that seems to hide under the furniture along with the motes of dust.

The question, I wouldn’t know where to begin with a question. I’d almost be afraid of the answer I might receive. He lived in a hard time and suffered ill consequences. I can’t help but wonder if he saw any light at all.

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

I attended 13 different schools during my 12 years of public education. Yes, my mother moved around a lot. I have no clue as to the whys and wherefores of the various jaunts. I never bothered to ask. It has put wanderlust in me though. I’ve been in Southern Arizona for close to 20 years and I’m itching to go on a major walkabout.

Thank you for joining me for E-Week! I hope you’re enjoying this series as much as I am and will return for a Fun and Fabulous time next week!