Monday, October 27, 2014

My Big News!

Over the past couple of months, you may have noticed that I've been hinting around about a having a big announcement. Well, here it is...

I'm self-publishing my young adult fantasy PLEASANTWICK.

PLEASANTWICK will release December 2014. It will be available as a soft cover book and as an eBook at Amazon (Kindle), Barnes and Noble (Nook) and Smashwords (Sony, and other formats.)

This wasn't an easy decision as I've always pictured myself having an agent and going the traditional publishing route. Honestly, until recently, I hadn't even considered self-publishing, because of the stigma associated with it. Understandably so, when you've got new writers out there who don't take the time to learn the craft and familiarize themselves with the publishing business. 

But here's the thing...

The professional writers, the ones who've edited and revised the crap out of their work, who've hired editors and cover artists ... they are taking over the self-publishing industry.

So, after spending the last several years in the query trenches, trying to find someone to help me fulfill my dream of being a published author, I finally decided to take my career into my own hands and turn my dream into my reality.

One of the best parts of self-publishing is that I have complete control over the product I put out. I hired an editor. (Yes, my book is being professionally edited.) And I've hired my dream cover artist Nathalia Suellen. Her work is amazing! (She's responsible for the SPLINTERED series covers.)

I love this book, and I believe in this book. I'm excited to share that I'm planning a cover reveal soon, hopefully a blog tour, and definitely some giveaways. I'm so excited about the giveaways!

What's my book about? Here's the blurb from the back cover.

When her father begins restoring an enormous, ancient rundown house in the middle of the California woods, Melinda Richards is instantly captivated. Steeped in mystery, the grand old structure, dubbed Sotheby House, boasts a history—and power—that Melinda would never guess. She’s lured back time and again, especially after meeting a handsome stranger in the nearby woods. Strong, soothing, charming…Luke makes her feel calm and excited all at once, and it’s not long before Melinda is spending every spare moment with the enigmatic young man.

Luke Sotheby is in trouble—in more ways than one. Not only is his magical world, Pleasantwick, under attack by dark witches, but his ancestral home, the very portal to that world, has been bought by a commoner! And worse—he’s falling for the commoner’s daughter. Melinda is smart, sweet, brave…she makes him feel things he’s never experienced (and for an empath, that’s really saying something). At a time when all his energy should be focused on the preservation of his home and the safety of his people, Luke is drawn to Melinda on a soul-deep level that’s impossible to ignore.

As the magical battle spills over into the common world, the young couple begins to face dangers the likes of which neither has ever known. Lives will be lost, secrets revealed, and if Pleasantwick falls, Melinda and Luke could be separated—forever.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Writing tips "by zombies"

If you're a writer you probably have several --if not dozens-- of notebooks lying around. I do. Some have specific purposes and others are filled with all kinds of notes, writing exercises, and doodles. One of them has the date of my next dentist appointment scribbled in the top corner of a page, unfortunately I can't remember which one. 

But I have one notebook that I keep separate from the others. It has a hard cover with a butterfly on it. This is where I keep writing related tips. It has definitions and examples of common terms, punctuation, grammatical rules, sentence structure, and often misused words.

I've decided to share some of my notes with you. Maybe you'll find something helpful.

  • Expository: adj. intended to explain or describe something.

Using exposition instead of observable dramatic action is "telling versus showing."


Melinda and Kelly had been best friends since the first grade. They were closer than sisters and shared everything.
Observable dramatic action
Kelly plucked a handful of french fries off Melinda's lunch tray. "My brown boots would look great with your new skinny jeans. You should wear them to the dance Friday."

  • Don't use passive voice!

Passive voice is when you place the object being acted upon before the initiator of the action, or make the initiator unclear.
For example "The car was hit" rather than "Jason hit the car."

Here's a helpful trick: If you can insert the phrase "by zombies" after the verb and the sentence still makes sense, then you've used passive voice.

The tree was struck by zombies.
Lightning struck the tree.

The second sentence is active.

  • Dependent clause

A dependent clause cannot stand alone as a sentence [dependent clause comma independent clause].

For example: While she was asleep, the dog ate her homework.

A dependent clause with "ing" verb implies simultaneous action. You should limit the number of these on one page.

For example: Pressing his lips together, he hesitated.

  •  Split infinitive

A split infinitive is when you put an adverb between "to" and a verb.
For example "to generously sprinkle" or "to boldly go."

Instead of

You have to really watch him.
You have to watch him closely.

  • Avoid waffling words

Words that don't add meaning and can usually be eliminated: actually, basically, quite, definitely, really, truly, ultimately, very

  • Avoid filter words

Filter words distance the reader for the point of view of the character. Words like: saw, heard, felt, knew, watched, decided, noticed, realized, wondered, thought, looked.

Instead of

Melinda knew she had to get out of there.
Melinda had to get out of there. (Or) She had to get out of there.
  • Don't use 20 words when 5 will do
I don't think I need to explain the last one. 

That's it for today. I hope my notes made sense and maybe helped you out a little bit. Next time maybe we'll tackle adverbs.

Disclaimer: Even though I may be familiar with the above rules, I'm sure I haven broken most of them at one time or another -- probably even in this post.