Thursday, September 29, 2016

Thursday Tips: Using all 5 senses

Hello everyone,
Welcome back to another Thursday tips to help you be a better writer. As writers we want to be aware of the five senses. We use the five senses to transport our reader into the scene we are describing. The five senses have a power to connect with our readers in a deep way. So remember,engaging them all helps bring your fictional world to life.


Write With Sight
Don’t simply tell your reader how you feel or what is going on. Show them. There is more to writing with sight than green trees and blue skies.
Ask yourself, “What am I seeing?” and as you start with the mundane white car driving by I challenge you to look further. Beyond the man walking by with tattoos covering his arms, watch the way he walks. Does he stare at the ground as he walks or does he confidently stare forward? Practice with photos. Try to describe a picture to someone who has never seen the photo before. Show them what is there in detail so they can build the picture in their mind's eye.

Write With Taste

Describing taste can be a fun way to keep your reader intrigued in the details. So often we neglect or even simply forget to describe the way something might taste or what that taste means.
This might be awful, but comparing the flavor and taste of Krispy Kreme donuts to “eating a baby angel” does bring a picture to ones mind. Or, the taste of tomato soup is like, "coming in from a blizzard, kicking your boots off, and sitting in front of the fire.” 
The metaphors we use have the power to transport our readers to places that evoke memories and emotion from their own life, allowing a deeper connection to be made.

Write with Smell

Generally  smells are categorize into two options: good or bad, but smells can help tell stories, too. When you begin to describe a scene close your eyes and envision all of the possible smells that surround you. Smells do not only describe food and body odor, they can be used to describe the weather, a room, or a situation.

Write With Sound

There are noises all around you. Have you unlocked what the sounds are really telling you?Sounds are not always external buzzes and bangs, sometimes they come in the form of thoughts and voices. Some of those sounds are truths and some are lies. Some sounds tell the reader where you are or what you are doing without actually having to tell them.

Write With Touch

Describing the way things feel is just plain fun. The number of adjectives available are endless. Temperature and texture great to use and so much fun!
For example: “Her fingers skimmed the cool, silky water.”
When writing about touch, the physical is very important to describe, but even more important is the invisible. The different aspects that are “touched” but not with your hands.
As you have probably noticed by now, the key to unlocking the five senses is the question behind it. The question of why you are seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, or feeling something. Once you’ve established the sense, ask the question, 
“What does this mean?”
Hope this helps! See you next week!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Tasty Tuesday: dessert- Mini Pineapple Upside Down cakes

Hello everyone!
Since I've reactivated my blog I noticed I haven't posted a single dessert! Me! Someone who has to have dessert with my final meal of the day. Well. with Fall now upon us and the "dessert season" here with it I will be posting a "sensible" dessert for you to try and possible have for holiday time too. So, for my first dessert I'm posting a very easy, kid friendly and one of my favorite desserts. the mini pineapple upside down cakes.

A classic cake gets individual!  Perfect for parties and easy to make, 5 ingredients is all it takes!  The combination of mouth-watering caramelized sugar, sweet pineapple and cherries on buttery cake is sure to please.:



  • 2 cans Dole (20 oz. each) dole pineapple, Slices

Condiments

  • 1/3 cup Butter or margarine

Baking & Spices

  • 2/3 cup Brown sugar, packed
  • 1 package Yellow or pineapple-flavored cake mix

Desserts

  • 9 Maraschino cherries

Monday, September 26, 2016

Me Mondays: HEA-Book II, The Right Choice

Hello Everyone, 
Me Monday is here again! Today I'm talking about Book II of the Happily Ever After: By Any Means Necessary. The Right Choice is live!



Book II of the Happily Ever After: By Any Means Necessary series. 

Andrea Cooper, a stay at home mom, was out of a job when her sons went off to college. She turned to her husband Christian for companionship, but he had his hands full with an expanding company. Andrea is alone for the first time in years with nothing to do and no one to care for. In search of a new life she ran into her first love, Raymond Reyes. Christian spends more time away from home as she renews her friendship with Ray. After a while Andrea can’t help but wonder if she made the right choice in marrying Christian after all.

Excerpt:
Andrea laughed between bites of chicken. She and Ray slipped into an easy conversation reminding her how easy it was to talk to him.  
“Oh, by the way, I talked to LaTonya and she said it was okay. I can be in your book club,” he said pushing his empty plate to the side.
“Thats good. It should be fun. I’m looking forward to it.”
“I agree, and I get to spend more time with you.”
Andrea looked up from her dessert. “This is not about me and you, Ray. Im married.”
“I know that.” He paused for a moment to sip his drink. “I heard you married right after I left.”
“It wasn’t right after. A while had passed.”
“Did you miss me while I was gone?”
“Miss you? Youre not serious, right?”
“Yes, Im serious. I heard that I wasn’t even gone a year before you and that guy from the track team got together.”
Andrea shook her head. “It wasnt like that.”
Ray put his drink down. “Well, what was it like?”
She heard the change in his voice and knew he would continue to push the conversation. Her anger rose.
“You want to talk about this now? Twenty-five years later?”
He shrugged. “We’ve always been able to talk about anything that was on our minds. I think that conversation is unfinished business between us.”
She wiped her mouth and threw the napkin into her unfinished bowl of ice cream. “Okay, fine. Lets get it out in the open.”
Ray sat back and gestured for her to continue.
“When you left you broke my heart, Ray. You dropped me like a hot potato without a word. I cried for over a year wondering what I did that was so wrong that you would just leave me and never come back.” 
Ray’s eyes gaped and his jaw dropped. “Andrea, I—”
“No, you want me to talk about it so hush up and listen,” she told him in angry hushed tones. Her heart raced as she attempted to control her breathing.
Ray nodded. “You’re right. Im sorry, please continue.”
She took a slow deep breath. “Ray, when you left I was devastated. I was young and in love and you flat out broke my heart. You were my first real boyfriend. We dated all high school, my first year in college and you were my first lover. You knew that, but you left with so much as a goodbye anyway. How could you think you leaving wouldn’t affect me? That it wouldn’t hurt me to my core?” she asked palming her chest. “Of course I missed you.”
Ray lowered his head. “Andrea I swear none of that was my intention,” he said with a soft voice.
Andrea folded her hands on the table. “You told me you loved me and then you went to the Army and I never saw you again,” she told him staring at her thumbs.
“I wrote, Andrea. Didn’t you get my letter?”
She shifted her gaze to him. “The letter that said you wanted to see the world so you could grow?”
“Well yes, but it also said that I loved you. Not coming back to you was the biggest mistake I ever made.”
Andrea scoffed and rolled her eyes. “Well, apparently it was a mistake you had no intention on rectifying either.”
“It wasnt like that, Annie.”
The sound of the nickname he gave her so long ago made her gasp and her pulse race. His voice filled with emotion sent shivers down her spine. He took her hand and she looked up at him.
“I had every intention on coming back to you, I swear, but I couldnt come back a boy. You deserved more than that. I wanted to give you the world and so much more.”
“So why didn’t you?”
Ray’s shoulders slumped as he dropped her hand and leaned against the booth. With a heavy sigh his head falls back.
“The years went by so fast, Annie. Just as I thought I was ready something else held me back. I tried to write you again, but I felt like a failure and I couldn’t bring myself to pick up the pen. Believe me, I have been kicking myself ever since.”
Andrea wrapped her arms around her chest. “I gave Christian all the grief and anger you left behind in me, Ray. He didnt deserve it, but you know what? Christian stayed with me. He comforted me and waited for the pain to pass while showing me every day how much he wanted to be with me,” she told him leaning on the table. “I often wondered about you, even after a married. If you met someone and just forgot about me. If you were okay or even alive. How my life could have been different if I had been with you rather than him. I even wondered if I still loved you.”
“Do you?”
Andrea look at him. There was a hopeful tone in his question and undeniable love shining in his eyes. She couldn’t help but smile.
“You seem like the same guy I loved back then, but I sense something has changed in you, too. I don’t think I’m in love with you anymore, but it would seem that even after all these years my emotions still go haywire when you’re near.”
Ray beamed at her.
“But, not having answers left a lot of pain in me, Ray. I need of some type of closure.”
 His smile faded as he leaned on the table resting his arms beside hers. “I thought joining the Army would help me see the world and grow up and it did. I saw the most wonderful things, but I also saw some stuff that I still have nightmares over.” He let out a sad laugh. “Even the worlds most beautiful sights cant erase some horrible things that lock themselves into your mind.”
Ray fell silent for a moment. Andrea saw the pain he tried to hide from her in those beautiful brown eyes of his and fought the urge to comfort him.
“All those years went by and no matter what I saw, or what I did, it never filled the void in my heart of not having you in my life,” he continued. “I tried to fill it with adventure, food, drink, even other women, but nothing could hold a candle to the way you made me feel.”
“If you felt like that why didn’t you come back to me?”
He paused to sip from his glass and continued staring at the table as he spoke. “I dont know what to say. Time flew by. When I did think I was ready and could do all the things I wanted to do for you it was too late. You were married and had children.”
“You knew about me and Christian?”
He nodded.
“When?”
“Years ago. Your boys were just youngsters. My parents still see your mother from time to time. I didn’t want to mess with that. So I stayed where I was.”
“You never married or had children?”
Ray shook his head. “There was no one I never wanted to have children with except you.”
She sighed. “It was so hard not knowing what happened to you.”
“I know. Please accept the apology I should have given you so many years ago.” He took her hand. “Can you forgive the man for the biggest mistake he ever made as a boy?” he asked, giving her fingers a squeeze.
Andrea gave him a small smile. “Yes, you are forgiven. I probably forgave you a long time ago, Ray. I just needed to know.”
“Excellent, so where do we go from here?”

“Well, how about we just leave the past in the past. We started as friends and we can be friends now.”
~~~~~~~~~~

Available in ebook and print, on Amazon in a few short days, but you can get yours now exclusively from my website via Creatspace 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Thursday tips: how to build a bad guy!

Hello everyone!
Welcome back to another Thursday tip day! Today is a fun one. How to build a bad guy. Nothing makes your hero more heroic than a worthy opponent, right? So don’t shortchange your villain. Spend every bit as much time crafting him as you do your lead character, if you want your story to work.

(Though male pronouns will be used throughout this tip, this applies equally if your main character is a heroine or your villain is female.)

Too many novelists give plenty of care to every other element of their story, then create what they consider a deliciously evil villain and wonder why the package seems to fall flat.

Often it’s because the bad guy is only that: bad. He’s from Central Casting and might as well be starring in a melodrama, complete with black top hat, cape, and handlebar moustache so we readers can boo and hiss his every entrance.

Every other character is real and nuanced and believable, but the second-most important lead is only a caricature—spoiling the reader’s whole experience. 

Motivation: The Secret Sauce for Creating a Compelling Villain

Don’t let the word scare you. Motivation doesn’t have to be some nebulous theatrical concept tossed about by method actors trying to get into character. It simply means your bad guy needs a reason for being the person he has become.

If he isn’t working, it’s because you’ve made him the villain only because he’s a bad person. He does evil things because he’s evil.

That’s too easy. Change your thinking. Try something revolutionary. If you just can’t understand truly villainous people, try this: Put yourself in their place.

“Wait!” you say. “I’d rather see myself as the hero, doing the right thing because it’s the right thing, rising to the challenge, saving the day.”

Wouldn’t we all?

Well, don’t knock this till you’ve tried it. You’re writing along, and you’ve come to the place where your villain needs to act in some evil way. Your virtual online writing coach has urged you to be sure he has proper motivation.

What does this mean? He can’t be bad, do bad, cause trouble just because he’s the bad guy, so what’s made him this way? What’s behind it? You have to know before you have him do whatever it is he’s about to do.

Take His Place

“But I’m not a villain!” you say. “I’m no Dr. Moriarty or Dracula or Simon Legree.”

Yes, you are. You have your days. You’ve learned to control yourself, or maybe you’re a person of faith and have found control outside yourself. But you know your true nature, your old nature.

We novelists need to become our characters, from young to old, male to female, blue-collar worker to executive, and illiterate to educated. That’s part of the fun of it.

Now take that further. When a friend takes credit for something you accomplished, what’s your first private thought? You get over it, I know. You probably say nothing and let it pass for the sake of the relationship, and that’s great. But dwell on that initial visceral reaction a moment.

Someone you know well and love and trust lies to you, and there’s no question about it. You’re offended, hurt—crushed really. In fact, you’re infuriated. You bite your tongue because you’re a mature adult.

Maybe when you cool down you’ll rationally confront the lie and get to the bottom of it. But for now, entertain that immediate first reaction. Where was your heart and mind then?

I’m not telling you to become mean, rotten, and nasty when we’re all supposed to have grown out of that kind of thing by now. But I am telling you to tap into your dark side long enough to know what makes a good villain tick.

Villains are real people to whom terrible things have happened.

Maybe in childhood, maybe in adolescence, maybe later. At some point, rather than learning and growing, their maturation process stunted and stalled.

Roots of bitterness and anger sprang up in them. On the surface they may have many, if not most, of the same attractive qualities of your hero. But just beneath the surface fester the qualities you can access in yourself if you allow yourself to.

While this may explain the reasons for your villain’s actions, it doesn’t excuse or forgive them. He’s still evil, and he must still be brought to justice. But giving him motivation will make him more than a cardboard cutout.

So conjure a backstory for your villain. Make him real and believable and credible—even attractive in many ways.

And while you’re writing your story, see how many boxes you can check off on this list of characteristics that pertain to your villain.

The more that apply, the more successful your novel is likely to be. Because the more worthy his opponent, the more heroic your hero will appear.

Your Bad Guy Checklist

  • He’s convinced he’s the good guy
  • He has many likeable qualities
  • He’s a worthy enough opponent to make your hero             look good
  • You (and your reader) like when he’s on stage
  • He’s clever and accomplished enough that people               must lend him begrudging respect
  • He can’t be a fool or a bumbler
  • He has many of the same characteristics of the hero,           but they’re misdirected
  • He should occasionally be kind, and not just for show
  • He can be merciless, even to the innocent
  • He’s persuasive
  • He’ll stop at nothing to get what he wants
  • He’s proud
  • He’s deceitful
  • He’s jealous, especially of the hero
  • He’s vengeful



Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Tasty Tuesday: Pasta Pancetta

Hello everyone!

Welcome back to another Tasty Tuesday! Today we've got a tasty meatless dinner on deck. How about something added to pasta night? Easy to add or subtract for smaller or larger families, super tasty and if you really want to make the carnivore in you happy, any meat can be added.

Pasta Pancetta




















Prep: 10 min           Cook: 5 min

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain. In a large skillet, cook pancetta in oil until just beginning to brown. Stir in shallots, garlic, and mushrooms: cook for one minute. 

Season with pepper and oregano, and pour in chicken broth. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat , and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Cover, and continue to simmer for 5 to 7 minutes. Strain liquid from pan into cooked linguine, and add olive oil. Toss to coat. Divide pasta onto individual serving plates, and top with equal portions of pancetta and mushrooms. 

Garnish with freshly grated Parmesan.


Monday, September 19, 2016

Me Mondays: Avenging the O'Donnell's

Hello everyone!
Hope your weekend was great and your work week starts of  great as well. As the title implies, today is dedicated to my updates: where I'll be virtually and in real time, what's new with me, my new releases, what I'm working on and so forth.

My monthly newsletter is live and doing well. Everyone who gets the newsletter is automatically entered in the drawing to win an original item from my craft shop. (This craft shop tab on the website) The newsletter is also your vehicle to ask me questions. When you send in your questions you are entered again into the monthly drawing. The answer to those questions will be posted here as well. What is exclusive to the newsletter is the free reads. Sign up for the newsletter on my website

The Right Choice will be released September 23, 2016. It is book II of the Happily Ever After: By Any Means Necessary series. This series is about the lives of established couples and how they deal with worse case scenario issues in their relationship.

This week my WIP sneak peek will be of Avenging the O'Donnells, a interracial wolf shifter. 

Blurb
Ian O’Donnell was the only one to survive the massacre of his family. During the long wait to avenge them he met Nadine and fell in love. With love in his life again, Ian is distracted from his duty after waiting over a hundred years for the chance. Will Nadine be the loophole that will allow him to have love and revenge?

Excerpt:
Ian took a deep breath and returned to main house. Halfway up the stairs muffled screams and doors slamming reached his ears. Images formed in his mind of the monster going room to room dispatching all he found hiding. His distress magnified when he realized they came from his father’s bedroom. Standing in the doorway he could see his father broken body across the room. He moved inside at the sound of a door being torn off its hinges. The monster pulled Emma from the closet and lifted her from the floor by the throat. He knew his horror matched hers when their eyes locked, but for a brief moment he saw relief in her gaze before the light of life faded from them. 
“No!”
Howling his rage, Ian charged the beast with his sword extended. With all his might Ian shoved the blade deep into its back. The monster screamed in apparent pain. Swirling about trying to dislodge the weapon, the beast slung Emma’s body one way then slapped Ian haphazardly across the room the other way. His body crashed to the floor landing on discarded and broken furniture. Pain radiated through his body from head to toe. It was unlike anything he ever felt. He could barely draw a breath.
The monster had managed to remove the weapon. It turned toward him with the blade in his hand. Ian closed his eyes bracing himself as the beast walked to him. The blade pierced his gut swiftly stabbing into the floor beneath him. Surprisingly it did not add much to his discomfort. The monster stood over him just a second the shuffled from the room.
A visual of his father and brothers came to mind. Ian could not avenge them, but he was at peace to die with them. Closing his eyes he prepared for death. His head lifted and rested on something softer than the floor.  Conscious thought slipped away and the pain began to ease.
“In here! He’s in here! Oh my God! Fairy! Quickly!”
Ian gasped and let out a moan when the blade was removed from his body. His eyes flickered open, but closed again.  
“His heartbeat is very faint, but he lives. The O’Donnell’s are good and kind people. Don’t let their line die this horrible way. Heal him, please,” Sean begged.
Fingers touched Ians forehead. They were so light he barely registered the sensation, but a rush of heat rolled over his body like a wave at the slight connection. Immediately he drew in a deep breath and his eyes popped open. The pain ceased and his heart beat with new vigor. He felt stronger than he ever had. Sean smiled down at him.  
“My God Ian. The bleeding has stopped. The fairy has healed you.”
Ian scrambled to his hands and knees rushing over to his father’s body. Cradling his father’s head in his lap he looked toward the fairy.
“Can’t you save him too, fairy? He is my father, leader of our clan. 
She shook her head. “No, Ian O’Donnell, I cannot. It is fate to end here.”
Ian cried rocking his father’s head close to him. Sorrow and frustration filled his screams. After a while he stopped and he laid his father back on the floor, retrieved his weapon, and moved toward the door. 
“Ian, where are you going?” Sean asked.
“Im going to avenge my family’s deaths,” he replied calmly.
“Ian, no! The fairy has given you a second chance to live. You cannot squander it!”
Ian turned and opened to his mouth to argue his point with his friend, but the fairy’s calm voice stopped his retort.
“Ian O’Donnell, your family line will not die here, but if you chase the beast now you will erase what I have done. I can give you the means to avenge your family, but it will not happen today. The beast thinks he has destroyed your blood line, he must continue to believe it is so. All must believe until the time is right.”
Ian looked at his father’s body again and then to the only mother he ever knew. His heart filled with his loss making hum exhausted with grief. Turning tear filled eyes to the fairy, Ian finally dropped his weapon and fell to his knees beside it.
“What must I do, Fairy?” 



Thursday, September 15, 2016

Thursday tips: what is a story?

Hello everyone!
Welcome back to another Thursday tips day! Today we ask, what is a story? A story is simply a tale of events that are linked by cause and effect. It can be true or it can be a work of fiction. We expect stories to have a beginning, middle and end. They involve at least two characters, and some type of event take place.
Though there are three major contemporary types of written story:
  • The short story
  • The novel
  • The life story (biography or autobiography)
For the purposes of this blog (because it's for fiction writers) I will only give tips for the short story and novel. (I will be glad to come back and do a separate blog for the life story if there is a call out for it) 

Short Story

A short story is a piece of fiction under 20,000 words. More typically, a short story will be 1,000 – 10,000 words. (Pieces under 1,000 words are “flash fiction”, over 20,000 and they’re novellas.)

How to Write a Great Short Story

Like any story, your short story needs to have a beginning, middle and end:
  • The beginning is where we’re introduced to the characters, especially the main character and his/her problem
  • The middle is where the action and plot develops. The main character will face difficulties such as opposition from other people or a challenging environment.
  • The end is where the main character triumphs over his/her biggest challenge (or fails, in the case of a tragedy). The resolution should be satisfying and conclusive for the reader.
Even in literary and experimental short stories, it’s important that something should happen. Much of the action might take place inside the characters’ heads, but there should be a real change as a result.
By the end of your short story, your main character should have experienced an internal change. This means that they’ve grown and developed as a person – perhaps overcoming a fear, or recognizing an unacknowledged truth about himself or herself.

Novels

A novel is a piece of fiction that’s 50,000 words or longer (shorter books are novellas). The typical novel is around 80,000 – 150,000 words, depending on genre.
Novels and short stories share similar structural features, but novels give the author a much wider scope. A novel might have:
  • More than one main character (though attempt this with caution!)
  • A large cast of characters
  • A long time frame – potentially covering several centuries and several generations
  • Multiple subplots
Novels tend to be much more popular than short stories with the reading public, and almost all full-time authors are novelists rather than short story writers. A novel is a much bigger undertaking than a short story. Even if you are able to write short stories without much planning, you’ll need to plan out your novel in advance. There are a number of ways to do this, but whichever you choose, ensure:
  • You have enough plot to meet your word count target
  • Your main character (protagonist) is sympathetic – readers of short stories will put up with a dull or unlikeable character, but novel readers are stuck with the character’s viewpoint for much longer. As the writer, you’ll need to be able to become your characters.
  • You have an escalation of events throughout the plot. Things need to get worse and worse for your characters, until they finally overcome their problems or enemies.

Share Your Story Writing Efforts
It’s hard to write in isolation, and sharing your work with other writers is a great way to get feedback and suggestions. Look for a local writers’ circle, or join an online forum. You want to find somewhere that’s supportive but where people aren’t afraid to offer advice about things that aren’t working in your story.
Keep Learning
Writing is a craft that you can learn, like any other. There are hundreds of books on all aspects of writing, from the nuts and bolts of grammar and punctuation to writing in specific genres. You can also find free advice on the Internet (on blogs like this one). You can even take a degree or post-graduate course in creative writing.
Keep Practicing
As well as learning about writing, you need to practice. That means writing regularly – ideally daily. As you write more, your stories will get better – your characters are more “real”, your plots are convincing, and your endings are deeply satisfying to readers. You’ll also find that writing itself becomes easier: you’ll spend less time struggling to find the right words, and more time enjoying seeing the story spill from your fingers.
Always Revise
All authors need to revise their work. Your first draft might have a lot of problems – inconsistent characterization, scenes which don’t really fit, holes in the plot, incorrect pacing or tension. Don’t worry if this is the case: most published authors have to extensively rewrite their first drafts too. Always allow time to revise your story, and if possible, do several rewrites. Most authors recommend letting your story sit unread for a few days or weeks when you complete a draft, so that you can come to it with fresh eyes.
Hope this helps! See you next week!