Thursday, November 24, 2011

Monthly Book Review: Farsighted by Emlyn Chand

Last month, I reviewed Lauren Clark’s “Stay Tuned,” which falls under Women’s Fiction. This month, it’s Young Adult Paranormal—with psychics!

Today’s YA Paranormal market has become oversaturated with vampires, werewolves, trolls, faeries, and just about any other creature you can think of. In “Farsighted” Emlyn Chand decided to return to an original not-so-beastly paranormal—psychics.

“Farsighted” is about seventeen-year-old Alex, whose last name is Greek and incredibly difficult to pronounce, and his journey of learning that he is psychic. Unlike some psychics, Alex can’t read other people’s minds. He sees the future. There’s one problem, though. Alex is blind, so he sees the future how he experiences the rest of the world—through sound, touch, and smell. Oh, and Monster energy drinks help him reach that psychic state.

Chand does a great job of building suspense and mixing flashes of the future with Alex’s everyday life. The first time Alex experiences a vision, he doesn’t know what’s happening, which makes for a very interesting interaction between him and a bully. As his powers grow, Alex comes to work with them. At least, in some cases. While most of us probably think it would be awesome to have psychic powers, Alex doesn’t believe he has them at first, and has a difficult time understanding his powers throughout the novel.

The challenges Alex undertakes helps build him as a character and round him out. I found him to be a believable high school student, struggling to come to terms with his newfound abilities. Another thing Chand does well is make sure that school is continuously in Alex’s life. In some YA Paranormal novels, school gets shoved into the background and somehow students manage to magically pass every class. For Alex, school is a very real place and homework is a very real obligation.

Also differing from the YA Paranormal scene is the lack of romance in this novel. There is a love interest, Simmi, and as a reader, I really wanted her and Alex to get together in the end. Sadly, I felt like the romance wasn’t paid enough attention to. The tension that Chand tried to build between Alex and Simmi was often rerouted into psychic training or family problems, which is understandable, especially since this is not a YA Paranormal Romance—it’s just Paranormal. I do hope that Chand builds off of the foundation she began in “Farsighted” and that Simmi and Alex have a chance to become more romantically involved.

My only other concern is the rising action. The visions are very well done, but when the end of the novel comes around, I feel that the climax doesn’t quite match the rising action. It’s not as climactic as I would have hoped, and the antagonist, Dax, feels like he doesn’t have enough meat on him. I’m excited to see if Chand will add more to Dax in the sequel.

All in all, “Farsighted” gets 4 out of 5 stars. It was a quick, enjoyable read, and Alex was a fun character to “see” the world through.

“Farsighted” is available now as an e-book! Click here to get your copy of “Farsighted” today!


Blog Tour Notes

THE BOOK:  Alex Kosmitoras may be blind, but he can still “see” things others can’t.  When his unwanted visions of the future begin to suggest that the girl he likes could be in danger, he has no choice but to take on destiny and demand it reconsider. Get your copy today by visiting’s Kindle store or the eBook retailer of your choice. The paperback edition will be available on November 24 (for the author’s birthday).

THE CASH PRIZES:  Guess what? You could win a $100 Amazon gift card as part of this special blog tour. That’s right! Just leave a comment below saying something about the post you just read, and you’ll be entered into the raffle. I could win $100 too! Please help by voting for my blog in the traffic-breaker poll. To cast your vote, visit the official Farsighted blog tour page and scroll all the way to the bottom. Thank you for your help with that.

THE GIVEAWAYS:  Win 1 of 10 autographed copies of Farsighted before its paperback release by entering the giveaway on GoodReads. Perhaps you’d like an autographed postcard from the author; you can request one on her site.

THE AUTHOR:  Emlyn Chand has always loved to hear and tell stories, having emerged from the womb with a fountain pen grasped firmly in her left hand (true story). When she’s not writing, she runs a large book club in Ann Arbor and is the president of author PR firm, Novel Publicity. Emlyn loves to connect with readers and is available throughout the social media interweb. Visit for more info. Don’t forget to say “hi” to her sun conure Ducky!

MORE FUN: There's more fun below. Watch the live action Farsighted book trailer!



Friday, October 28, 2011

Monthly Book Review: Stay Tuned by Lauren Clark

This month's review has sparked a new tradition! Every month, I will write a review on a novel, whether it's indie or mainstream! This month, I'm taking you inside Lauren Clark's "Stay Tuned."

While "Stay Tuned" is not yet available to the public, when it comes out, I highly recommend it! Melissa Moore is a behind-the-scenes producer for the news at WSGA in Macon, Georgia, and she enjoys her job. Things get ugly, and they get ugly fast when one of the snarky co-anchors for the news, Alyssa, throws a punch on the ten o'clock news. Melissa directs to commercial while she pulls Alyssa off of her co-anchor. With only a few minutes left, Melissa can either let the commercials run out the clock, or...she can take over.

She nabs an earpiece, settles behind the desk, runs through the prompts, and completes the ten o'clock news, much to her manager's relief. Calls come flooding in. Melissa is a hit! She's helped save WSGA's reputation and has landed herself a new job--though only temporarily.

Pulling into her garage, Melissa considers how she's going to break the news to her husband, Chris. Yet, as usual, the only thing she finds from him is a sticky note stating that he's working late. Again. Chris seems to be working late an awful lot recently, and Melissa has her suspicions. Everything falls out of place as Melissa tries to do her very best as the new co-anchor for WSGA and save her marriage. Nothing goes right, and she finds herself on the top of the station being wined and dined by her co-anchor, learns her husband's competition for a raise is a sexy, slinky woman, and Alyssa is trying to kill her. Yup. What a handful.

"Stay Tuned" is fast-paced, fun, and a downright treat. Trust me, you'll love Melissa's hectic life and want her best friend (and Dr. Phil devotee), Candace, to give you all the right tips for staying on top.

"Stay Tuned" to find out when this fantastic book is released!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Just for Fun!

Well, I decided I could give it a shot. I enjoyed doing Clei's responses during the Blogfest (over at at Elizabeth Mueller's blog) so much that I decided to do another one for his side-kick, Eti!

A little background: Eti is an ekra, a species of necromancers who are created from the discarded bones of amüli, dragons, and other creatures. When they marry, they leave their clan with their mate and search for bones to build their children with. Then they make fresh kills and use the muscle and flesh from the hunt to build the body and give muscle and flesh to their child. An ekra's horns are most often made from coral, signifying their link with the moon goddess, Ilandere-karais (as she controls the tide).

Ekra are animated through magic, but do not have vital organs, such as a heart, lungs, and guts. Rather, they have a blood-mite. Blood-mites are creatures that live within an ekra and take care of digestion and blood circulation. An ekra cannot survive without its blood-mite, because the mite does everything to keep the host alive. Mites can leave the host's body for short periods of time to fight or hunt if the host is too weak, but must return quickly so the host does not die.

Contrary to their appearance, ekra are very peaceful and deeply devout creatures. They have two classes: The hunter and the priest. The hunters can also double as warriors and fight to protect the clan, whereas priests and priestesses protect and serve the clan through divine channels. All ekra know magic, but priests are better suited to cast. Each clan has a Queen, an ekra descended directly from the goddess Ilandere-karais herself (blood-mites and souls are split and given to new ekra; in this way, the queens of every clan have a fragment of the goddess's soul within them).

Eti, from "Soul Carrier," will be answering the questions today!

Image (c) Kira McFadden a.k.a. Efirnda McDannak. To see the full image, go to The Inrugia Website.

Question 1: What is your greatest fear?

The amüli. It will always be them. The attempted genocide of my people two-thousand years ago still haunts us. Amüli are dangerous creatures, and they are spreading their territory too far. I fear for our people and for others like us.

Question 2: What is your biggest accomplishment?

One accomplishes only through actions. My biggest action was to teach the half-blood, Clei Vojtech, magic, so he may one day overthrow his people and save our world. He is craven, that one, and it makes little sense to me why he insists on living while his people wither, but I cannot begrudge him his choice. After all, I have little sympathy for the amüli.

Question 3: What is your biggest regret?

My biggest regret is feeling so much spite and hatred for the amüli. Few who live now know what their ancestors did to my people, and fewer still could have stopped it. They are a weak and fleshy people, and do not understand the concept of balance. Hubris and hatred have led me down this path. Ilandere-karais will guide me. She has given me a chance to redeem myself by helping this young half-blood find his way. And so, if it is her will, I shall comply.


Well, that's Eti for you. He's not as stoic as he appears to be--his people are very proper and well-mannered. I might do one for Marik tomorrow, simply because I love this. But I'm also considering an interview instead. Any thoughts?

Poor, Poor Pitiful Thing

Here's one of the 500-word skits I did a while back. I need to continue these! I was rereading some of them, and this one made me laugh, and then made me shudder, which I expect was the goal. Give it a read and let me know what you think!

Also, if you can name where I got the title of this piece from (i.e., who sang it?), I'll give you a virtual cookie!


The tomb was covered in white marble, gilded with gold, and even had a few engravings along the sides and top. But the worst of it was the serene expression worn by the burial mask at the head of the casket.

King Iodus ran his aged fingers along the cheeks and brows of the face. It was his son. Dear, poor boy had been laid to rest not ten days ago. He had died in a most brutal accident. After fighting with his new wife, Prince Felen had run out into the hallway, naked. There had been a maid scrubbing the sleek floors, and the prince had slipped.

At first, the king had been mortified that his son had died in such a foolish, embarrassing way. Now, however, he felt the weight of his son’s death. The king was in his eighties and had no living heir. Even Prince Felen’s wife was not with child. There was no one to take over the kingdom. Soon—very soon, the king felt—his country would be pitched into turmoil, and a succession war would begin.

The only way to remedy this was to take the late prince’s wife to bed. Iodus shuddered at the thought. She was a pretty thing, for certain, but he wasn’t comfortable sleeping with his son’s wife. Even if it was to save his kingdom from war, he wasn’t sure he could do it.

Iodus reached up and scratched at his balding head. Liver spots decorated his body in constellations of brown and gray. Little white hairs wafted from his naked crown, and for a fleeting second, the king considered taking another wife. Many of those in his harem had died years ago. He’d never seen fit to replace any of them. He was too old to be dealing in matters of the pants.

Pristine light shattered his thoughts as the sun rose and swathed the floors in orange. The king had spent another sleepless night at his son’s tomb. Rather than stay much longer, he took up his cane. He hobbled toward the door, leaving his son behind. Whatever misdeeds his son had done to deserve such an unfavorable end, the king knew in his heart he couldn’t wait much longer. Soon he might not be able to father children at all.

And so, he entered his palace. Knocking on his daughter-in-law’s door, he was resigned to waiting for her to answer. At last, she opened the door. She wore black, just as any widow in the kingdom was commanded to. Her eyes were clear and focused, not the red puffy eyes he had expected from a grieving widow.

“Your Majesty,” she said, draping her skirts back in a curtsy.

“Hello, Lady Elga.”

“What can I do for your grace today?”

“I was thinking of my son—Felen—and how I have no heir.”

The woman’s face paled considerably as she pieced together what the king was driving at. “You would have me?”

“There is no one else to take over the kingdom,” he muttered, ashamed. “It has to be done. You cannot rule, and will be ousted the minute I’m dead. To secure your place in the palace, you must bear me another son.”

Elga’s brow pinched, her fine, pale skin wrinkling at the thought. “But…I…”

“Come, we must be quick about it. You will have a child by royal blood, and say it is my son’s.”

“Your Grace, I don’t think now is a good time…”

“If we do not do it now, then I fear I will lose my nerve.”

Her expression seemed to plead for that moment. “Very well then.”

Friday, June 24, 2011

MC Character Blogfest!

Hey all! If you haven't heard, it's MC Character Blogfest! That's where we authors have our characters answer a few questions :) You can read more about the Blogfest at Elizabeth Mueller's blog.

Clei Vojtech, from "Soul Carrier," will be answering the questions today!

Question 1: What is your greatest fear?

It's already coming true. Mostly death, but I just found out my half-soul is eating the souls of unborn infant amüli (angels). I'm half-human, half-amüli, and because of that...well... My soul isn't balanced. I'm terrified of what Marik's going to do to me. His daughter was just stillborn because of me, and I think if he had the chance, he'd bury me under the ocean. An eternity trapped down there, slowly being crushed by the pressure... *shudder*

Question 2: What is your biggest accomplishment?

I thought my biggest accomplishment was flying the Ridge, because, you know, I don't have wings all the time, but that wasn't it at all. I managed to find my Carrier, which is huge. She was in America, on Earth, and I ended up in Thailand. That was a long way to travel with no money, and in less than three months. Because of her, I'll live to see my seventeenth birthday.

Question 3: What is your biggest regret?

That's a big question. After everything I've done, and everything I might do, I think my biggest regret is watching my people die because of me. Because I'm so scared to die, they have to. Being craven is my biggest regret of all.


Eti, Clei's travelling companion, may come by tomorrow to answer the same questions. It's interesting to see how Clei might answer. He's a real coward, and not that bright.

If you want to join in the Blogfest, just go to at Elizabeth Mueller's blog and sign up! Answer the questions and post a comment here :) I'd love to read your posts!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Who will buy your book? Examine your writing with a business-mind

For years I’ve seen masses of articles, blogs, and quips about the publishing process. Many of these articles are about querying, editing your own work, what agents want, how to build a platform, and numerous other topics helpful to authors. One thing I have not seen, however, is a quick breakdown of the publishing process from a business angle.

Most authors have a general idea of what to do—write, rewrite, rewrite, query, and then go back to the drawing board if there are no bites. But what does an author do beyond the querying process? Furthermore, with all of the blogs, articles, and other media smattering the Internet, where can an author find a quick breakdown of the publishing process from a business point of view? Look no further, because you’ve found it.

1. Drafting Your Novel to Sell

This may seem like the easiest part of the process, but for some it can be very difficult to draft an entire novel in one go. Any number of blogs and other media can help you with the finer points of outlining and drafting a novel, but one of the most important things to keep in mind is whether or not the novel will sell.

Many authors have great ideas—whether in fantasy, science fiction, art history, horror, or what have you—but few focus on the main question an agent or publisher is going to ask. That question is: Will this sell? More importantly, how well will it sell? Aspiring authors like to be creative—it’s what we’re best at. So why not create a way to sell the novel from the very beginning? While drafting your next work, take a step back and ask yourself if it would sell. Don’t get bogged down or overwhelmed with trying to make it sell. Just keep in mind that writing is a business. If you recognize and plan for the business side of writing from the very beginning, you’ll gain a leg up on the competition.

When drafting your novel, keep these questions in mind. Either answer them by writing them down, or just keep them in mind for later refining.

1. Who is the target audience?

Women in their mid-50s, tweens, young adults, or even hotrod driving men are all examples of audiences. Defining your target audience early on can help stabilize your work for the future. It can even give you direction when you want to have a solid plot or if you get lost in the overwhelming ideas you may have. Pulling a few of those ideas and refining them for a target audience is a great way to start cutting fat right off the bat.

Defining an audience also helps you keep sales in mind. Questions such as genre, who will buy the book, and what agents to look at will already be answered. This makes your job easier and streamlines the process further.

2. Why would someone want this instead of the competing book?

All genres have competition. For example, Trylle is competing with Twilight right now. Both are young adult paranormal romances. Both are high sellers, and both have the same effect on their audience. They emit the romantic aura that captures the hearts of their readers while keeping the plot interesting with battles, twisting plots, and suspense. But why did an agent pick up Twilight?

The answer may be in the business of the book, not the structure or the content. Twilight stuck to the right agent at the right time. There’s no saying why an agent will pick up a book one moment and reject a similar one the next. Simply keep in mind that the why is what will help you determine whether or not your work is sellable. Why someone may want to read your novel instead of someone else’s could define when an agent picks your work out of hundreds.

This goes back to defining your target audience. You know who will buy your book. Now figure out why. Does your book have amazing action that no one else’s has? What about gorgeous romance scenes that make your reader’s hearts tremble? When you try to research the why, talk with people in your target audience. Whether they’re friends or strangers, asking a few, brief questions to narrow down what your potential readers like could help define why your book would sell compared to the competition.

3. What makes your book successful?

Similar to the why is the what. What makes your book sellable is different from why people might buy it over the competition. In any given genre, an author should research books of similar plot, character, and with a similar target audience. Do you read a lot of adult fantasy? Then perhaps writing young adult is not your genre.

What makes your book successful is contingent on what you know about the genre you choose to write in. You are the expert when it comes to your genre, but even an expert only knows so much in the beginning. Learn about what sells in your genre. Then break down those masterpieces and find out what makes them sell. For example, if you write epic/high fantasy, who do you look to? Right now, there are many successful high fantasy authors. To name a few: Robert Jordan, George R. R. Martin, Brandon Sanderson, and Anne McCaffrey.

Read a few of their books. If you detest the work of one, ask yourself why. When you find yourself unable to put down the series of another author, again, ask yourself why. Always ask why, because it will tell you what will help you to write and define your own work from the beginning.

Once you have these questions answered, you’ll have a better idea of what you want to write and how you can sell it to potential agents, publishers, and eventually, readers.

You may finish reading this blog post at Novel Publicity, LLC.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Building a Platform

Okay, well first off, new layout. Easier to read, better picture, and so on. Hope you like it! You can see more pictures like the islands at And now, I'll tell you a little more about building a platform as an author.

One night, I was talking with my dad about Twitter. He's a programmer, and knows a lot about the new social networks. Unfortunately, everything he thinks is negative. He hates Twitter, Facebook, and similar applications with a passion. So when I told him I was on Twitter, he frowned and said, "So you get to see a bunch of people tell you what they had for lunch? Or is it, 'Oh! I picked my nose!'?"

I couldn't help but laugh. "No, dad," I said. "I use it as a platform. I talk to agents, authors, and publishers." Well, part of it is true. Truth be told, it can be a little nerve wracking talking to some of the people on Twitter. But, if you don't, you're missing a HUGE opportunity to sell yourself--and your work.

"Why would they listen to you?" he asked.

At first, I didn't have an answer. Why would an agent, or publicist, listen to what I had to say on Twitter? Especially if all I say is, "Writing today! Yay!" Well, I have an answer for you. The first thing I did was read a bunch of blogs and articles about Twitter as a platform-building tool.

Yes, I did research. Gasp! And after I did the research, I went back to my dad and said, "They'll listen to me because I've got a cool picture, interesting posts, a nice Website, a good story, and I stand out from the crowd."

His response: "Do you tell them what you ate for dinner? I don't see how anyone would want to listen to that. Besides, it's a finite amount of people seeing what you have to say. How do you expand this so-called platform of yours?"

Good question. More research gave me the answer, and in one word: Hashtags. Yes, the hashtag. I began to add "#writing" "#amwriting" and "#write" to every post at some point. But it's more than just ADDING those. You have to say something interesting. I write fantasy and follow a number of agents. One agent in particular, Donald Maass, gives writing prompts every day. He asks a writer to think about what they do. So I decided to do something similar without redoing exactly what he does. I started trying to come up with quick tips and little tidbits of information that authors might find interesting.

And what did my dad say? "Interesting. But don't all of these people just talk about their lunch?"

By that point, I was ready to give up on him. I really wanted him to see what it means to build a platform as a writer and stand out. I might not be the most interesting person on Twitter, but I did research on how to turn Twitter into a platform for selling myself and my work. And guess what? It worked.

The next night, I went to him with a big grin and said, "They may talk about their lunch, but I got five new followers on Twitter in one day, dad."

"Oh? That's nice."

"Yeah. That means I have five more people listening to what I say. Five people I've never met, spoken to, or seen before. What happens if they see what I post and they like it?"

"They tell others about it."

I couldn't help but be happy. "Exactly."

And this was the best part. My mom and dad grinned. My dad said, "I like this idea of a platform on Twitter."

"Will you ever join?"

"Heck no. I'm just glad my daughter isn't telling people what she had for lunch."

He's not an ignorant man, my father. Nor is he against social media. He might not want to be a part of it by having an account, but he was part of building my platform. He pressed me, probably on purpose, to do research about how to make Twitter less of a "what I had for lunch" social site, and to build a platform for my work.

Of course, building a platform doesn't mean you can just sit back and do nothing once it's done. You have to keep up on what people are doing. Talk to them, get to know them, and spread ideas. It's like a virus, but a virus of words. Ideas can get around far faster these days than ever before. Use that to your advantage as a writer. Push forward and build a platform people will be interested in.

I write high/epic fantasy, but with a touch of horror. Who do I talk to on Twitter? Who do I follow? Anyone who interests me. And some of them follow me back. You can't be on Twitter and just assume you're going to get followers. You have to put forth the effort--write blogs, update a Website, and most important, have a catchy bio.

Make your page unique. If you have art you've done, put that up. Anything to make you stand out!

So, if you're a writer, singer, artist, or what have you, use Twitter. Not to socialize just in the conventional sense, but to spread your ideas. Get people interested, and be interested in what they do. It will help you build a platform and get noticed.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Suspense is Suspenseful!

Sorry for the lack of updates of late. It's been quite hectic. I volunteer at the local University mending brittle bound books, and have also been taking some time to try and get some writing done. The sad thing is, I tend to study writing more than actually write.

And that's where this blog comes in.

I want to talk about building suspense in your novel. This may seem like easy stuff, and if you've heard about it/know about it/can do it naturally, then congrats--I admire you, because I'm not one of those people who can. I write high fantasy (fantasy that takes place on another world) and epic fantasy, so I tend to do a lot of world building, rewrite to destroy some of that world building, and then rewrite again. Amidst all of those rewrites, much of the suspense is lost, because I am thinking of what's interesting and what's not.

I like character-driven stories and dialogue-driven plot. This means I tend to put everything else on the back burner. To me, dialogue can say a lot more than an internal monologue. The problem with dialogue is that if you do it wrong, you give too much away.

"Duh," you might be thinking, "it's not hard to figure that out!" Well, no, it's not. But consider: How do you write dialogue as well as hide certain things a character *might* say? How do you edge around common knowledge without losing suspense? Finally, which genre do you write in?

Some genres have it easier than others. In romances building suspense is a little easier. I know it's not easier overall, but there's something about romance that makes readers *need* to know more. Romances play off of our desires, and we as the readers want to know what happens because we want that sexual satisfaction.

Epic fantasy (and fantasy in general) can have romance in it. Actually, a lot does. But there are some fantasies where the romance is downplayed (think later books of "The Black Company" or "The Glass Dragon"). I'm not saying it is non-existent--in fact, it's the very low-key romance that keeps us interested. There are hints throughout, but not enough to over saturate us with lust (as opposed to some YA paranormal romance, which is what it's supposed to do).

Examine the suspense, and what kind of audience you're targeting. Romantically oppressed tweens (NOT a bad thing--it sells like hotcakes!) or relationship-experienced adults and college students? The latter is a little more difficult to work with when building suspense, because much of the time, they *know* how a relationship is supposed to unfold. That's why books like "The Dragon Nimbus" and "The Color of Distance" put love in the background.

Now then, onto perspective. Perspective (POV) is really important when building suspense in your novels. I know he's not the only one to do it, but Sanderson is one of my favorite examples of this. He builds up something to be BIG (i.e. the army in the first book led by Kelsier), and then knocks it down HARD. He does what people DON'T want to have happen. Brilliant. It builds suspense because it makes you roll your eyes and mutter, "Why did they *do* that? It's so bad!" Notice how I said "bad," not "stupid." When a character who is supposed to be smart does something insanely stupid, it can be unbelievable. But if you build inherent flaws into your character, then slip-ups help to build suspense.

My favorite thing about suspense is trying to put it in by not overdoing POV. I like to write the first few drafts of a novel with 5-10 POVs, then cut that down to 3 or 4 (4 is pushing it). Why? Well, for one, having all of the POVs makes it easier to build characters. I know exactly how they would react, how they think, and what they're like. This helps me to portray them from the outside when another character observes them. It also helps me get the nitty-gritty of the scene down pat, because I've seen it from so many different perspectives.

At the same token, the first draft will substantially lack in suspense. So later, I go back and make notes of what each character knows, choose a few that are consistent throughout the story (i.e., the main character, his or her sidekick, and the antagonist), and build up what they do and don't know. Then I write scenes around them. Then I build on those scenes. Then I try to pull a Sanderson. Most of the time, I fail. This is because new ideas come to me and I can tweak it to make it better.

I make it better, even after submitting to agents and saying I'm done because I know it can be improved. Any novel can always be better. This goes back to what I've said before about revising and using new ideas. You will really learn a lot if you keep pushing for new things in your novel. Not to say this works with everyone; it just happens to work well for me (of course, I'm on my 15th or so draft of this book, so it depends on what you want--quantity or obsession).

Building suspense is like dropping bread crumbs and then suddenly having wild animals get in your way. They eat the crumbs, and now you're not only out of luck, but they want to rip your head off, too. So, remember, try to learn for yourself what suspense is and how to develop it without giving too much away. Study the books you read. As a writer, you will never find any better resource than the books you read. After all, if there's something about them that captivates you, then it worked for the author. It sells. Learn what it is. Figure out how to mimic it in a unique fashion, then apply it to your own work (just don't plagiarize!).

After all, we're not just writers. We're researchers, scholars, and fighters.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Cold, Damp, and Blissfully Nice!

The weather disagrees with me today, but it's still a great day to be out and about! I'll be leaving soon to go do some book mending at the local University. That's something I really enjoy. It's nice to relax and numb my mind for a few hours mending books. Also, it teaches me to try and think of something other than writing. Does it work? Not really.

The 500-word flash fictions have been a success lately! I've been following my plan to do them at night before bed. Not my best writing, but it's getting me back into the swing of things. I'm very excited, because last night I did a short scene from Clei and Marik's future. Sometime down the line, when Clei is 23 and Marik is 29. I really enjoyed the setting, the discussion, and seeing how the characters have changed. It makes me think that perhaps there's something to Clei thinking he's the hero while actually being the villain.

Also revamping my book and thinking of writing a blog (next time) on literary structure. I really enjoy talking about it, researching it, and applying it to my own work.

Until then, take care, and keep writing!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

500 words!

Okay, silly title, I know. But I've found myself becoming lazy to the point where I think about my work all the time, but don't really do much about it. Yes, I am working on a new image for the Website. It should be done about the time I decide whether or not I want to publish with Kindle. But, I digress.

To remedy my laziness, I am writing 500-word flash-fiction stories every day before I go to bed. I want to push through this remiss and horrifying laziness that I've managed to (somehow) catch. I think it's the leftover exhaustion from graduating from college, but it's probably something else. "Life gets in the way" is not a valid excuse. I should ALWAYS make time to write. It's what I love, isn't it?

So, I'll push forward. I may or may not share my flash-fiction work here. It's not meant to be taken seriously--just to pull me out of this slump I seem to have fallen on.

Anyways, short blog, I know, but trust me! It's well worth it!

By the way, my first flash fiction piece, maxing out at 592 words, is called, "The Bones Were Broken" ;) Not quite what you might think it is, actually. Pulling away from the Inrugia/horror/fantasy pieces a little tonight...

Take care, and never stop writing! We are the revolution of literature!

Lesson Learned

All right, ye authors who might ever read this, I've been doing some research the last few days, which is why there was no update yesterday. BUT I think what I've learned might help those seeking the indie publishing route with Kindle or another eBook application.

I was impressed. That's just some of what I have to say about the eBook (Kindle, mainly) publication system. They give their authors either 35% or 70% (depending on whether or not you own the rights to your work and where the work sells...look up their terms and conditions if you have any questions). Before you try the eBook route, please try traditional publishing. For one, good people may lose their jobs due to the high volume of eBook publications. People who would otherwise be selling your book, marketing it, helping you get gigs, and even buying it. We want the economy to do better, not worse.

Now that I am done preaching, one of the things I learned about the Kindle publishing is that you MUST find out whether or not you own the rights to your work. This can be easily done by contacting a copyright specialist. Always cover your butt, because if you're not careful, it might come back to bite you.

Also, note that only a small percent of eBook authors are really successful. It might be a good way to earn some money, but don't expect instant success. Build a platform before you choose to publish with anyone--even eBooks. That means make a Website, meet people on forums, and go out to meet others in the field. Go to bookstores, see if they will let you talk to people as they come in. A good way to cater to both bookstores and sell your work is to offer to hype up the eReaders out there, like the Nook, Kindle, etc. This will give the bookstores a reason to have you meet people in THEIR store. I'm not going to guarantee that this will work--just keep it in mind as a method of trying to sell your work. Remember, if you go through ePublishing, you are going to have to market your own book. You won't have a team from a publishing house to do it for you.

As a final word, do your research. Decide for yourself if you want to write to sell, or if you want to write to write. I know it sounds strange, but don't expect ePublishing to be an instant fix. Talk to an actuary. Learn the statistics and try to decide which way is best for you and your work.

Best of luck, writers!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


And just like that, I learn another thing about writing. This is a VERY interesting article about ebook writers and sellers who go indie.

Give it a read and decide for yourself if it's a good route for you.

Writing to be Published

Today I am going to talk a little about what I have learned of publishing. Now, I don't claim to be an expert, but I want this blog to be less like a lot of ramblings and more akin to something useful. First off, if you ever have any questions about trends for novels, poems, TV scripts, movie scripts, or graphic novels, please, please, PLEASE do some research. Always look at what AGENTS want, not what people SAY agents want. That was my little disclaimer.

Okay, now onto the real stuff. The first step to getting published is to write your novel. Write the rough draft. I have done some research on my own to help determine what can make a good writer. Now, you may be naturally good. That's awesome. But don't forget the fundamentals. There are some things that even you should know about writing. One is that you should write to entertain. Your work is a product to be marketed. This is common knowledge, but a lot of authors (including myself) forget this at times. See what people are buying. I'll give you a hint: Sanderson is big right now, as are Terry Prachett, Neil Gaiman, and many, many other writers. Well, cool. You may have a story idea like theirs that you think can sell, but examine their writing style before you jump to conclusions. The writing style of an author can tell you a lot about their work. See my previous blog for more information on first books of authors. Someday soon, I promise I will go into more detail about this. I am currently writing a paper for myself describing what I mean. It's a complex system that needs some serious thought put behind it.

Next, as you write your first draft, don't think to yourself, "Everyone's going to see this. It's so terrible." That's a good way to get writer's block. This was an interesting tidbit I picked up from around the Web: Write your first draft as if no one will ever read it but you. Seems a little counter-productive, doesn't it? Especially when I just said you have to write to entertain. Well, think of it this way. The first draft is trash. No matter how good you are, you're never so good that you can't improve. Write your first draft to get something on paper. Make sure you're hitting the entertainment points you want: Whether it be that your book is funny, suspenseful, horrifying, or any other intriguing aspect, it has to entertain. The second, third, fourth, fifth (and sometimes more) drafts are where you smooth it out and let other people read it to give you feedback.

Last time I mentioned something in passing. As an author, you'll love your characters, your creations, and your world in general. It's a bad habit we have. Agents, prospective readers, etc., may not be so inclined to love your ideas off the bat. If you're lucky enough to get an agent, then listen to that agent. He or she will give you advice that can't be beat! If they want you to change something, change it. How often do you think you'll be picked up by someone at all? It might be worth it to make a few small tweaks to help your work sell at first, then to use your prestige later on to write whatever you want. Changes can always be undone, and the original will always be with us. Of course, it may so happen that you LIKE the changes made to your novel. If this is the case, you're damn lucky. Push forward and persevere. That's a rare trait among writers--especially new ones. I've worked with a few writers who want things their way, and nothing can ever be changed. It's really difficult to appease them, and you don't want to be difficult to work with. Agents want someone who will be easy to work with (at least, I presume so. Always check with your agent. I think that you'll find in most cases that an agent wants someone easy to work with instead of someone difficult and pretentious).

Okay. So by your Nth draft, you think you've got something sellable, interesting, and entertaining. You've been writing queries and trying to get an agent but no one's biting. Now what? Well, that's normal. There are HUNDREDS of agents out there for any genre. Before you try them all, use Websites or writing groups to help you fix up your query. There are two places I frequent. One is interactive: Query Letter Hell: The other one is less so, but damn, it's useful. Janet Reid is an agent, a shark, and will eat your query letters: Listen to what she has to say. Yes, there are almost 200 blog entries from her. Do you have to read them all? I would recommend it. If you're serious about becoming a writer, you'll realize that it's a lot of work. It's a JOB, not an instant fix to money problems.

You're query is spicy, it's sexy, it's got people asking for pages. Now what? Well, you've made it that far, so keep going. Find an agent that works best with you, and you'll probably do fine.

Best of luck writers!

Monday, February 28, 2011


Okay, I am bad. Very, very bad. I totally forgot I had a blog. Bad me! I'll try to make it up to you by updating my blog at least 3 times a week. Sadly, my life is pretty uneventful right now. I am studying a lot on my own time. I tend to study theory and structure in literature, read a lot of fantasy (I've caught the Sanderson virus and am reading "Elantris").

I'd like to put down a few words about "Elantris", actually. One is that yes, it's a good book. Interesting, quick-paced, and it helps young or unpublished authors to see a good, unique structure for their first novel. One of the things Sanderson did right was to start the book off instantly. He lets the world grow AROUND the problems of the characters. He doesn't focus instantly on the world. It's an interesting and good way to start a book for a new author for fantasy. Most fantasy authors (myself included, though hopefully not for long) attempt to create a bond between the characters and the world through world-building right off the bat. Yes, it's interesting (to us), and yes, it makes sense (again, to us), but is it entertaining? New and unpublished authors should always write to entertain. This I learned from a dear friend of mine when we were discussing the topics of fantasy and literature in general, how to get an agent interested in you, and why your work might not be selling.

A good query is always the start to finding an agent, and there are a multitude of Websites that can help you advance and work on your query letter. Keep in mind, ye folk of art, that agents don't JUST respond to queries about literature. Some take on television scripts, movie scripts, graphic novel scripts, and even high-image content novels (not quite graphic novels, but not picture books, either). ALWAYS check what an agent wants from your book. ALWAYS research the agent. I tended, for a while, to only contact fantasy agents. BIG mistake. I know now that my work suits fantasy/horror readers much better, and now I plant to edit my work to target that audience.

Back to Sanderson, though. What is it about his book that sells? The fact that he can grab his readers with a sympathetic main character, while backing him up with strong secondary characters, makes the book appealing. Also, the antagonist is NOT a bad person--just a devout one. He admits many times that he (the antagonist) does not want bloodshed. This is all very good for a beginning author in fantasy. Sanderson messes with the common tropes of good and evil. But there are hints in his work that he is a first-time author. Sentence structure, for one, is a common way to tell if someone is a first-time writer. Shockingly, another first-time author, Alan Campbell, did not make these mistakes (I use the term lightly--they aren't exactly mistakes, just how the sentence feels. For example, saying, "The expression on his face" rather than, "His expression," feels bulky. I'd go with number two, but it's a personal choice) as much as Sanderson did. This might be because he had editors who recognized flow better, or he himself can better see how sentences should flow. Sanderson fixes this problem in his "Mistborn" series (of which I am an avid fan), but his lack of structural flow in the first book definitely shows there is hope for authors. Focus less on structure (though don't avoid it completely--good structure is key!) and more on how to break down and create a novel that will have heads turning.

Finally, keep in mind that you are not writing for yourself. This is a mistake many young authors make, and I know for a fact I have made it. The first draft is for you. Maybe even the second. By the third draft, though, you are writing to entertain an audience. If you can't keep a reader interested, then your novel needs work. Be willing to make compromises with yourself. Ask yourself, "How would turning the male lead character into a female change the novel?" If it makes it better, try it. There's always an "undo" button and earlier drafts to refer to. Changes aren't permanent. Once you've become a big star, you can release the original version of your book for readers. They might agree with you. For now, though, work with yourself and pretend like you're working with an agent. That little voice in the back of your head that says, "Vampires are dead. Fishmen are what're cool now!" may actually have a point.

Keep writing, my friends!