Monday, August 27, 2012

The Care and Feeding of Writers

If you are cursed blessed with having a close relationship with a writer, then there are some simple rules you might need to know to make life easier and more peaceful:

1. Don't mess with inspiration. If a writer suddenly cuts you off mid-conversation to scrawl down an idea, don't say a word. If he or she should forget a dinner date, then don't take it personally. Inspiration can hit at any moment, and usually at the most inconvenient moments. Let it happen, don't interrupt, or you might have to face something far worse—a writer with no inspiration.

2. Learn to use correct grammar, or expect to get corrected. Nothing is safe. Your writer will correct grammar on signage, in magazines, at the movies, etc. There's no sense getting upset about it. If you really want to make a difference to your writer's life, then don't ignore grammar, learn it.

3. Don't look for the off switch, because there isn't one. Writing is a 24 hour job. A writer is always thinking, processing and gathering every experience for future scenes or stories. Note: If you don't want your favourite show completely analysed to death, then wait to watch it when your writer is away.

4. Be a rock not a critic. Tell your writer on a daily basis that their work is worthy and they aren't crazy to pursue a writing career. Let them write. Let them read. Don't try to be their critique partner unless you want to summon The Monster (the less spoken about The Monster, the better). Instead, encourage your writer to find critique partners who are also writers.

5. Don't bother with to-do lists. If the lists have nothing to do with writing, then your writer will ignore them anyway. The cleaning may not always be perfect, the weeds might take over the garden, and food may not be eaten at regular hours, but a happy writer means a happy household.

6. Every writer needs a break. When your writer starts showing signs of cracking—mood swings, a deep sense of complete failure, staring for hours at an empty screen—whisk them away and give them new experiences to feed from. A day spa should do the trick, or dinner at a favourite restaurant, or a cruise. We aren't fussy.

Do you have any other suggestions to add to this survival guide?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

#MakeBelieve Sneak Peek

I have an unusual treat for you today--a short excerpt from my story, Birthright, which will be published by J. Taylor Publishing in the Make Believe anthology in December. Please enjoy.

The excerpt:
Palms rustled overhead as Mrs. Tinder shouldered open the rickety door of Christa’s new home.

“Here we are,” the landlady said. The dark space breathed Florida’s hot air. “It’s not usually so humid here in December, but never you mind about the unseasonal heat, dear. As soon as the air-conditioning kicks in she’ll be right as rain.” Mrs. Tinder toddled over to a control panel on the wall and pressed a few buttons. A hum emanated from the walls, the lights blinked on, and the air stirred.

Busying herself around the single room cabin, Mrs. Tinder spread the drapes, straightened the cushions and opened and closed the fridge. She turned her sharp gaze on Christa. “You have family in town?”

Christa gave her a tight smile. “No, I don’t.”

“Friends, perhaps?”

She shook her head.

Mrs. Tinder’s wrinkles deepened into a frown. “You’ll be alone over Christmas?” Her pinched lips broadcast her true thoughts. No one should be alone over Christmas. It’s not right. It’s not natural.

Christa’s smile wavered. “I’ll have plenty to keep me busy.” She tapped her camera case, still hanging from one shoulder.

“Ah, a photographer.” The woman’s nod turned to a slow shake.

Christa didn’t need pity, and she didn’t need more invitations to join random family gatherings, either. To prevent further discussion, she asked, “Are there any galleries in town? Or museums?”

The woman’s face didn’t brighten. “No galleries. There’s one museum. A shack run by a man named Jack.” She grunted. “But you don’t want to go there. His displays are a load of balderdash, if you don’t mind me saying.”

“Balderdash?” Christa asked in mock surprise. “A mighty strong word.”

Looking like a school principal about to pass judgment on a wayward child, Mrs. Tinder perched on a kitchen stool and leaned on the counter.

Christa regretted the tease, realizing the woman had taken it for an invitation to continue.

“Apologies for my language, dear.” Reprimand laced Mrs. Tinder’s tone. After a pause of awkward silence, she sniffed. “Mr. Jack fancies himself the town historian, but he wouldn’t know history if he fell into a dung pile of it. He snoops into family lore, delves into lost legends, and makes up stories when he can’t find nothing of no interest. Mark me, all of it’s nonsense.”

Christa nodded, though she didn’t understand at all.

“Don’t get me wrong. Jack’s a lovely boy, but he’s strayed from the path.” Mrs. Tinder peered at Christa with an appraising eye. “Perhaps a woman like you would do a young man like Jack some good.”

Christa stiffened. Matchmaking was one of the many reasons she’d left New York for the holiday season. She hadn’t expected to find it in a small town in Florida, as well.


If you haven't done so already, I'd love it if you popped on over to Goodreads and put Make Believe on your to-read list.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Cover Reveal: Forged by Greed

cover art designed by Jeannie Ruesch
Their choice had been taken away long before they were born.

Two Seattle 16-year-old Shape Shifters, Jatred and Jasmira, are torn between following their hearts and protecting the order of the world.

The ancient Shape Shifter Races—the Winter wolves and the Summer leopards—exist on Earth, living among humans and perfectly fitting into modern life. Their secret societies are organized, each united by their own laws and traditions.

Two Goddesses, Crystal and Amber command their respective Races. One is on a quest to tilt the scale of power to her side. The other will never let it happen, even if it means sacrificing Jatred and Jasmira’s love.

The Amulet commissioned to bring stability into the world remains hidden and concealed with the help of advanced technology. Jatred is the guardian of the Amulet and key to the Goddesses’ conflict.

The forces of nature are disrupted. Earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions rake the world. The Goddesses go to war and summon all their Shifters to join in the conflict. Jatred and Jasmira fight not only for their star-crossed love but to protect the future of both Races and humankind.

Angela Orlowski-Peart was born and raised in Poland. She describes herself as European born, American by choice. She was just seven-years-old when she decided to learn English to translate her favorite Polish fairytales.

Angela is a Young Adult and Adult fiction writer. She completed her first YA paranormal romance novel, Forged by Greed, which is scheduled for publication on September 20, 2012. This is the first book in The Forged Series. Angela writes in multiple genres, including paranormal, fantasy, urban fiction, sci-fi, and short stories. She is a member of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Western Washington Chapter, and several authors’ and readers’ networking groups on Linkedin and Goodreads.

Angela loves reading good books almost as much as writing them. She can’t decide which is her favorite season—summer or fall. She speaks with Polish accent, but loves listening to the Southern drawl.
She is passionate about watercolor painting, fashion—especially stilettos, rock climbing, environment, and organic food and gardening. She lives in the Seattle area with her husband, two children, and a very independent and chronically curious cat.

Angela can be found on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Linkedin and Goodreads. 

The wolf stood under the trees, several yards from the fence. His eyes were fixed on the stone statues. He growled and took a few slow steps back. Then he sprang forward and ran full speed toward the gate. His upper lip drew back, showing sharp, long canines. He jumped over the spikes of the fence, his belly inches away from the pointed iron finials. The wolf landed on the other side and left large paw prints on the freshly mowed grass. He lost his balance but regained it momentarily.

He heard her footsteps even before he heard her voice.

“Jatred!” From the house Jasmira ran toward him. Her long curly hair billowed behind her. “J, you made it. You made it.”

The wolf whimpered and trotted forward to meet her. Without slowing down, she threw herself onto him. Her hands grabbed his thick fur. His body was massive, and Jasmira looked like a child hugging an uncommonly large dog. The air around them pulsed and shivered. Jatred shifted into his human form and fell onto his back. Jasmira sprawled on top of him. Holding his face in her hands, she kissed him. His face broke into a broad smile.

Forged by Greed will be released on September 20, 2012. The second book in the series (untitled) is scheduled for publication in summer 2013.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Guest Post: Madeleine Sara

Please welcome guest poster, Madeleine Sara:

I‘ve always enjoyed writing as a means of expressing myself. I made books and stories from the moment I could write, but then I stopped for many years, As writing is in my blood I couldn’t stay away from it forever.

With 16 non-fiction articles published in National/ International magazines; my own magazine Cloth Figure Quarterly and a How-to Book ‘Fiddly Little Fingers and Tricky Little Toes’ under my belt, I started a nine month Creative Writing Course. That was an almighty shock to realise that, in fiction writing terms, this was only just the beginning! So I read more books & writing magazines and learned that these days having a blog is important for an aspiring writer.

In August 2010, I started my writing blog, Scribble and Edit blog and loved it.
I love the creative design elements in presenting the blog posts and the look / content of the blog. I love the writing challenges that inspire and test my writing skill and I love the supportive, blogging community who have helped make my writing mature exponentially. Two other great supports have been 1: Write1Sub1 monthly, which has shown me that the more you write and send out the more experience and success you achieve. So thank you Milo, Simon and Stephen you have been a fantastic boost to my oftentimes wavering morale. 2: Romantic Friday Writers my thanks to Denise, Donna and Francine for the great challenges, feedback and awards that have allowed me to flex my writing muscles.

I have been delighted to have other short pieces of flash fiction, stories and haiku accepted by magazines, eZines and charity compilations, which has bolstered by confidence.

I happened upon the idea for Ultimate Sacrifice in a magazine I was reading at the hairdressers. Usually the stories in those magazines seem quite depressing and tawdry, so you can imagine this one left quite an impression. From one relatively incidental element in the account I had a light bulb moment that got me thinking in that What If? way that writing craft books encourage. Without providing spoilers, I can only say that I realised that I could create my own characters, who suffer a similar tragedy for a novella/ short story and explore this element as the twist in my tale. It’s therefore not quite romance, more realistic fiction with romantic elements. This story was a great vehicle for exploring what happens when the going gets tough. The subject is also very topical and full of that all-important conflict, which modern stories demand.


Monday, August 13, 2012

How to Outline a Story

In my previous post, Advantages of Giving It a Go, I revealed I'm a reformed pantser, proud of casting off my old ways to plot out my stories before I write them. In the comments, M Pax asked, how then do I outline? She stumped me with the question because I hadn't thought about it before. The amusing thing is, I approach outlining much the same way as I used to approach writing: by the seat of my pants. This led me to realise there is no one true method. Each writer who wants to outline has to find a way that works for them. However, to answer Mary's question, this post is my attempt to explain how I go about outlining my stories. It's much like building a fire:

The Spark: Every novel begins as a tiny spark in the writer's mind. The ideas can come from anywhere and everywhere. One of my sparks came from a two second scene from a Shakespeare movie trailer and turned into a novel with a potential for a trilogy. The novel has nothing to do with the movie or scene which sparked it all. Of course, not every spark will catch and turn into a roaring fire that will keep the writer fuelled long enough to complete the novel. Each spark needs to be tested.

Testing the Spark: I collect sparks. I have a little notebook where I write them all down. Some ideas are a mere sentence, a 'what if?' Some are paragraphs, some are scrawled pages of notes. I recorded my latest one as a diagram. When I'm ready to begin outlining, I go through the ideas and see which grab my interest. I then focus only on the big picture: What do I want the story to be about? This is a great time to play with possible taglines for the novel. Sometimes this works for me, sometimes I need to fan the fire.

Turning the Spark into a Flame: The characters are what drive the stories for me. Some writers will do character interviews, hunt the net for pictures of actors who look like their characters, write up extensive backstories. I do none of that. Instead I pick a major weakness to give my main character, one I can exploit, one the character can overcome over the course of the story. From there the fire grows, other characters spawn as foils to the main character, and the story starts to evolve.

Feeding the Fire with Kindling: Working out the setting is a great way to feed the fire, to add those extra details to expand the ideas. In my latest work in progress (WIP) the setting came first. It developed like a main character. World-building became so crucial to the story that I wrote a novelette to gain a greater understanding of the world.

Feeding the Fire with Logs: This is my favourite part of outlining, the part many would consider the 'true' outlining. I use a mini notebook and pour out the story, chapter by chapter, from start to finish. I keep it brief. Sometimes it includes dialogue, but mostly it includes, 'this happens then this happens.' I write it fast and let the story and characters guide me.

Keeping the Fire Contained: To keep my ideas from going wild, I try to keep an eye on the big picture through the whole process. I do this by using a whiteboard and writing down each chapter in its most basic form on post-it notes. For details on how I use the whiteboard, see an older post, Writers' Tools: The Whiteboard. I'll adjust the scenes, slot in any ah-ha moments that spark, and build a cohesive story, checking the character arcs and the pacing.

And voila! This can take anywhere from one to two months. It might sound like a long time, but it saves me a lot of time and hassle in the revision stage.

Did I scare anyone off from outlining? How do you go about developing your stories?


Congrats to Suze of Subliminal Coffee for making it to the finals (top three, with the winner to be announced in September) for her novel in an international contest, Mainstream/Literary category. Woo hoo!! I'm not surprised, girl!


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A to Z Interview and Photography

Today I'm over at Blogging from A-Z Challenge April 2012 Home Page where Alex J. Cavanaugh, Ninja Captain extraordinaire, is interviewing me. If you'd like a glimpse of my other creative side and my love of photography, then pop on over. I'd love to see you there. Click HERE.

I've turned off the comments here to make it quicker for you to pop on over.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Advantages of Giving It a Go

As some of you know from my previous post titled Inspiration and Serendipity, my parents loved to travel when I was young. Once, they took me to Singapore. This was not the Singapore of today with its high rises and western culture infused into the city. This was when Singapore had few tourists, when the local people rarely saw white children with blue eyes. I experienced a vast range of different foods at a time when the standard fare in Australian restaurants was prawn cocktails and crepe suzettes. I learnt to use chopsticks and ate dishes which included fish, rice, beans, and a whole range of unidentifiable ingredients. Mum taught me to be open-minded with my food.

What does this have to do with my writing?

When I first started writing I'd sit at an empty page and pour out the story without having pre-thought about the characters, the plot, or anything. I was in love with the romance of the journey of discovery. I held on to that method, dismissing all those who outlined, not listening to the possibility that planning could be just as fun and offer a greater advantage in the long run. Instead I'd stubbornly cling to the notion that I knew what was best for me, without even trying other methods.

My mum's voice floated back to me from those days of travel and new experiences. She reminded me that my stubbornness was like saying I didn't like certain foods without even trying them first—and I don't mean trying them with a preconceived idea of hating them, scrunching up the face to nibble a morsel as if it were poison. I mean giving them a proper go.

So I gave outlining a go—a proper go. I spent a month working out my characters, planning their story arcs, creating a world for them and plotting their scenes. I had a brilliant time and I quickly discovered the advantages. I could see the story as a whole before I'd even written it. I could take out scenes without having to pine over lost gems. My work became efficient, my writing became tight, and my story had a cohesive flow it didn't have before.

So, my advice is, don't say no to a possible method before you give it a proper go. You won't truly know whether or not it works for you until you try.

What are some methods you've stubbornly clung to only to discover later that a different system worked better after all?

New Release: Madeleine Maddocks of Scribble and Edit has released her exciting novella, Ultimate Sacrifice. 

When Lyndsay hears the terrible news about her soldier boyfriend, Ben, she knows she must be strong; but just how strong, she is yet to discover…
The story encompasses young love, tragic circumstances of war, heart-breaking let downs, temptation and youthful determination to surmount and survive all odds; with the reader wondering which direction Lyndsay will ultimately choose to go.

Amazon, Amazon UK, Amazon FR, Amazon de


Friday, August 3, 2012

Character Spotlight: Kurt Lancer

Fact File:

Name: Kurt Michael Lancer
Age: 33
D.O.B.: February 2nd
Likes: Bruce Lee, martial arts, Chinese food
Dislikes: Gang culture, social prejudices, benefits fraudsters, religious fanatics, hospitals

Bio:  Detective Inspector Kurt Lancer is the main protagonist in Oracle. A homicide detective with the Murder Investigation Team of the London Metropolitan Police, he is charged to solve a series of bizarre murders, linked only by an oak leaf left at the scene of each crime.

Six-foot-four and solidly built, Lancer is conscious of how his appearance and stature intimidates people. He compensates by being soft-spoken, and although he practices martial arts, chooses a ‘soft’ style where size and strength does not give him any advantage.

A recent widower, Lancer is a single parent to eight-year-old Meghan, whose progressive disability worries him daily. He also cares for younger brother Reggie, often having to spring him out of trouble.

Lancer throws himself into his job, working long hours to keep his mind off his troubles at home. However, his two worlds come crashing together when someone starts stalking his home—and Meghan.

And the culprit could be closer than he thinks.


With London gearing up to host the Olympics, the city doesn't need a serial killer stalking the streets, but they've got one anyway.

Leaving a trail of brutal and bizarre murders, the police force is no closer to finding the latest psychopath than Detective Inspector Kurt Lancer is in finding a solution for his daughter's disability.

Thrust into the pressure cooker of a high profile case, the struggling single parent is wound tight as he tries to balance care of his own family with the safety of a growing population of potential victims.

One of whom could be his own daughter.

Fingers point in every direction as the public relations nightmare grows, and Lancer's only answer comes in the form of a single oak leaf left at each crime scene. 

Purchase Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble

About the Author:
J.C. Martin is a butt-kicking bookworm: when she isn’t reading or writing, she teaches martial arts and self-defence to adults and children.

After working in pharmaceutical research, then in education as a schoolteacher, she decided to put the following to good use: one, her 2nd degree black belt in Wing Chun kung fu; and two, her overwhelming need to write dark mysteries and gripping thrillers with a psychological slant.

Her short stories have won various prizes and have been published in several anthologies. Oracle is her first novel.

Born and raised in Malaysia, J.C. now lives in south London with her husband and three dogs.

Contact: Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook

Note:  I've read this book and loved every minute of it. JC has a fantastic writing style that brings her stories and characters alive. To see what Kurt looks like, check him out HERE.

Thank you: Thanks to everyone who offered me their condolences, prayers, and well wishes after the recent passing of one of my family members. My aunt will be dearly missed.

Giveaway: Jamie Gibbs of Mithril Wisdom is hosting a giveaway to celebrate 350 followers. Yay, Jamie!! Pop on over HERE and check it out.