Wednesday, December 18, 2013


This year has flown by so fast. It’s almost Christmas. What! WHAT? It hardly seems fair that time keeps expanding by leaps and bounds and I can barely keep up. I must be truthful and say that while I made some big advances this year, I did not accomplish all my goals.
And I’m a little disappointed in myself.

The thing is, people will tell you, “Oh, it’s okay. You can’t do everything.” But the truth is, if you make a goal (a reasonable one at that) and you don’t accomplish it (par for death or serious illness) you should not give yourself an out. Don’t set yourself up for failure. As soon as I start giving myself an excuse to not do something, I’ve lost. As soon as I get lazy and undisciplined, I’ve lost. As soon as I start to feel sorry for myself because of my long hours, I’ve lost.

I might as well shut down my computer, stop writing and reading, and watch TV.

So you know what. There’s not going to be any pity parties over here. There’s not going to be any excuses, any undue pats on the back – not until I do what I set out to do. This isn’t just about writing…but it encompasses that dream, too. This is about EVERYTHING. I know what I am capable of and the only person who can stand in my way is ME. Not the day job that sucks my energy and exhausts me mentally, not the people in my life (family, friends) who clamor for my time/attention. Not the clock that stands as a constant reminder that time is limited and I must use it wisely.
Only I can stand in my way. And only you can stand in yours. Are YOU the real reason you haven’t reached all your goals? Stop making excuses and make opportunities.

Did you struggle particularly this year with anything? How did you overcome this?

Have a great day. Read a book and laugh!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


Yay! I can update my blog again. So excited. I didn't have anything planned to say so I think I'll ramble a little.

1. I just finished two books by author, and Shewriter/YaLitchater, Kelly Hashway/Ashelyn Drake. The first had been on my TBR list for the longest: Touch of Death. The first chapter instantly grabbed me but I put it away because I had too many other books I was reading at the time. Well, I picked it back up last week and I'm glad I did. Can't wait to read the next books in the series! I read there might be a love triangle in the next book. With a character like Alex, the MC, Jodi's love interest, this will be awesome. Read the first book - you'll understand. The second was Ashelyn's Campus Crush Series book (a novella), Rushing Into Love. It was great - with lots of awww and ohh tender moments between the MC, Mindy and her love interest, Ben. I have posted reviews for both books on Amazon under my other name, Angelica Steward.

2. Speaking of my other name: Angelica Steward. When I first decided to write seriously, I decided to use my middle name, Dawn, and my maiden name, Brazil, to do so. I did it because I just thought that one day I might want to write something really different from kidlit. Not that I've gotten anything published yet but I wanted to be prepared for when I did. I was visiting the awesome site of Quanie Miller, a fellow Shewriter, and she was discussing this topic: writing under a different name because of writing under different genres. Check out her thought provoking post and the awesome comments left. Oh and she has a new book out, It Aint Easy Being Jazzy...check it out!

3. I still have not read Allegiant by Veronica Roth - yet. I was so excited about this series, too. I can't explain it. I raced through the first two books like a woman on fire. I started thinking about this seriously and thought if I feel like this now will my readers do the same. I mean it's not boredom...the series is awesome. There was a years gap for me I think between reading the second book and the last one coming out. I even think the release date was pushed back a few times. Could this have something to do with it. Uh, I don't think so... I've read the first few chapters using the "sample" feature on Amazon but nothing more. Maybe subconsciously I don't want to read it because I will have to leave the characters I have grown to love (Tris, Four, all the Dauntless)...

4. I was visiting another Shewriter, Chrys Fey's blog and she mentioned her book, Hurricane Crimes. So, being me, I immediately went to Amazon to get a sample to see if I'd like it. OMG. It was great. She hooked me right away. I am going to purchase it later today with some other books (maybe Allegiant) and I'll be sure to post a review on Amazon. Which, writing a review, I might add, is important to do to support the authors we like. I'm trying to remember to do that from now on if I like a book. I can't bring myself to write a review for books I hate though. I think because I know that entertainment is subjective my negative reaction to something may not be someone else's experience. And my mother taught me if you have nothing good to say then say nothing at all.

What have you been up to? Read any good books.

Have a great day. Read a book and laugh!

Sunday, November 3, 2013


Okay, I've been experiencing some Blogger related issues. Namely, I can't update my friggin' BLOG! I'm typing this post from my phone. And I'm fuming. So I won't be able to update until I get this Blogger issue fixed. *heavy sigh* Plus, I missed the Zombie BLOGFEST with Beth Fred and Kelly Hashway. Sorry ladies. I'll get my post in eventually! 

Have a great day. Read a book and laugh.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The WHW Amazing Race: OPEN CALL for Submissions

Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi at Writers Helping Writers (formerly The Bookshelf Muse) have added two more books to their Descriptive Thesaurus Collection: The Positive Trait Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Attributes and The Negative Trait Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Flaws. To celebrate, they are hosting a race, and not just any old race, either. It's the...

Writing is hard, isn't it? Create the perfect hook. Make your first page compelling. Craft an amazing 25 word pitch. Knock out a query that will blow an agent's mind. On and on it goes. And sometimes, well, you just wish someone would help.


From October 21st until October 27th, Writers Helping Writers is posting an OPEN CALL for writers. You can fill out a form, requesting help with critiques, book visibility, social media sharing, blog diagnostics, advice and more.

An army of Amazing Racers are standing by (ME INCLUDED!) waiting to help with your submissions. How many people can we help in a week? Let's find out! Did I mention there are Celebrity Racers too--amazing authors and editors who know their way around a first page. Maybe one of them will pick your submission to help with!

Each day this week, there's an AMAZING giveaway, too. So stop in at Angela & Becca's new Writers Helping Writers website and find out how to take advantage of this unique, pay-it-forward event for writers. I'll see you there! 

Photo Credit: Tharrin Have a great day. Read a book and laugh!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Awesomeness Alerts

I've been busy. I mean really, really, busy. And sick. But of course, I can't stay away too long. I thought I'd pop in for some randomness and share some of the awesome things I've been hearing about around the blogosphere.  

1. For Banned Books Week, I purchased a book that had been banned for my ten-year-old daughter.  It was Scary Stories Treasury by Alvin Schwartz. We love it! I actually got all three of my kids (yes, the two teenaged ones, too) to sit and read with us with the lights off and a flash light in hand. It was beyond thrilling...and scary.They asked to do it again the next day. Then my daughter took it to school and read it at recess to some of her friends!

2. One of my favorite blogs, The Bookshelf Muse, has moved to a new location. You should definitely check out the new site which is now titled, Writers Helping Writers. And in conjunction with the big move, and the launching of two new books, The Positive Trait Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Attributes (October 21st) and  The Negative Trait Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Flaws (October 21st), they are giving back to the writing community in an awesome way. I'll write more on that in a few days. So stay tuned. 

3. There's a great contest about to take place at Miss Snark's First Victim's blog. It's called, The Baker's Dozen. This contest offers writers an opportunity to have their work critiqued by published authors, editors, and agents. And if that wasn't exciting enough, it's an auction where agents bid for pages on the stories they like the most. Some even request the full manuscript! Get all the awesome details HERE

What have you been up to? 

Have a great day. Read a book and laugh!

Thursday, October 3, 2013


I’ve been compiling some helpful writing sites and what not for a while. The information I learned from these sites have been invaluable. So, I thought I’d share!


THE BOOKSHELF MUSE – descriptive words, phrases to help strengthen your writing
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STORY - tons of useful info
THE BLOOD RED PENCIL - editing tips galore
MISS SNARK’S FIRST VICTIM - writing contests with agents and editors, helpful info on writing
Agent Information

Nathan Bransford – former agent turned writer
Writer’s Market - small fee associated with this site
Websites for Socialization/Publishing and help with promotion

CBI Clubhouse - small fee associated with site - for Children's books authors
Writer’s Digest – has a community forum for critiquing – subscribe to their newsletter by email. They offer courses on how to write/the business of writing/and publication and just about anything else writer related.

Editing Posts from my personal blog

Do you have any helpful sites, tips, programs that could be of assistance to other writers? Please share!

Have a great day. Read a book and laugh!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


I recently went through the list of banned books. What I discovered was a list of books banned/challenged and I couldn’t understand why some made the list. Not that I think there's an instance that calls for a book to be challenged/banned. I don’t. If you’re afraid you’re child will read a book you have deemed inappropriate for their age - don’t let them read it. Don’t make it hard for others to read it, too.

Then there’s the actual list of books that are banned/challenged. There’s a lot. Something that surprised me, however, was the number of classics on the list. Here are a few:

The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee

As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner

I choose these books out of the list because my daughter read each one for her AP classes at school. She loved them all. They didn’t influence her to go out and commit a crime or smack her siblings around. It only made her appreciate those authors even more.

Some books that made no sense to have censored at all were on the list. I had read these books. Some a while ago….but still. I couldn’t recall any content in them that would be deemed inappropriate. Of course, my taste/opinion would differ from many but I don’t get it. Here are a few of those:

 I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou

Goosebumps (series), by R.L. Stine

Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred Taylor

Junie B. Jones (series), by Barbara Park

I’ve decided to try a challenged/banned book and read it. I challenge you to do the same!


Have a great day. Read a book and Laugh!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


It’s common knowledge that many writers were first readers. But not just any kind of reader. Most writers read everything, anything, they could get their hands on. Or I could just be describing myself. But I doubt it.

I fell in love with books at an early age. I’d devour books so quickly; I can't accurately say how many I’ve read. That love for books, for stories, parlayed into my love for writing. Since starting on my writing journey, I've enjoyed reading more. I’ve found, however, with family, work, writing, and other demands on my time, I don’t have as much time for reading. I’ve been slacking. And I hate it.

I made up for that recently by reading some awesome books, though:  

The Guardian by Katie Klein I found this book when I read an anthology called “In His Eyes.” I had originally picked this up because of another author’s work that I wanted to check out. But ended up loving this short story because of its fantasy element. Oh, I loved that other story, too, by Jessie Harrell. The thing I liked the most about The Guardian was the main character – Genesis. The author created this character that leaped off the page and I kept reading the story until I was finished because of her. Then I grabbed the next book in the series. And another great book by the author, too.

Bully by Penelope Douglas I saw this book recommended on another blog, can’t remember where now, though. I’m not a big romance reader – but honestly, if the book is good with great pacing and believable characters, I’ll read it. Bully was that book. I think the characters are what make the story interesting for me. I don’t necessarily need a super original plot that no one has ever heard of – but that wouldn’t hurt. Just give me characters that are unique in some way and I’m half-way there. It wasn’t the main character that I fell for though, it was her love interest. Read the book, you’ll understand.  

Matched by Ally Condie - This book is not last on my list because I liked it the least but it was the book I thought most of you would know best. This is another book with an interesting character(s). I love the story because I have a thing for Dystopia’s. I can’t get enough of the “What would happen if the world…” stories. I have so many books on my TBR that I have not read the sequel to this one yet but I’m itching to get my fingers on it. There’s a love triangle and I’m torn completely down the middle with this one. I love that!

 What I want to read next:

Allegiant by Veronica Roth
– Come on already! This is one of my favorite YA series and I’m dying to know what’s going to happen next. If you haven’t read the first two books in the series, you’re missing out. It’s a great Dystopian with awesome world building and jump off the page characters that you won’t forget.

Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi This book is part of another really great series. It was labeled a Dystopia but I mostly thought of it as fantasy/romance with a little world building. Maybe there will be more on the new society mentioned in the first book but it was the writing that did it for me with this one. It was different, descriptive, and weird – in a good way. I really enjoyed it and it was mostly romance (not my favorite thing to read but it's in all the books I read now – and write coincidentally).

Partials by Dan Wells –  I found this book in an anthology for YA Dystopias. I read all the books in the anthology after I read the sample chapters, with the exception of this one…and I think one other. But it’s not because I did not like these two, I just haven’t had time to read them. If you haven’t gotten this anthology, you should. It is the Hunger for Dystopian Sampler. Not only have I read most of the full length books in the sample but also the sequels to those books as well. Can’t wait to read this one by Wells, too.

A book I’d recommend to all writers:

The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi – this book offers valuable info on how to describe – show, not tell – the emotions your characters experience in your story. It offers a definition of the emotion; physical signals of the emotion (jumpiness – for nervousness); Internal Sensations (a flutter of the abdomen – for love)…and more. It’s a great companion when you’re writing and you need that added descriptor to complete or compliment a scene.

Have you read any great books lately? I’m always open to suggestions and I’ll read just about anything with great characters – especially if it’s a Dystopian, fantasy, or horror.

Have a Great Day. Read a Book and Laugh!

Monday, September 9, 2013



What's in a kiss? Well, actually, quite a lot depending on who it's from, where you are, your mental state, their mental state, how long have you known  them.... 

So in honor of smooches everywhere, especially in fiction and non-fiction, Cecelia Roberts and Christine Rains are hosting a Blogfest dedicated to the delectable (or sometimes, NOT) kiss. We are posting scenes from our stories  - a kissing scene. First, if you'd like to participate, let's go over the rules:

1. Sign up on the linky list and post the badge on your blog.
2. On one of the days of the week of September 9th, post a kissing scene on your blog. It can be either fiction or non-fiction.
3. Please do not exceed 250 words.
4. This is a blogfest, so visit the other participants and have fun!

I'm sharing a scene from my YA urban fantasy, Finding Me. This is the first kiss between my protagonist and her love interest:

With my eyes shut, I concentrated. Possibly, if I thought of the two of us together, I could conjure something. I tried, hard. But nothing registered. Only the memories from the last couple days. “I’m sorry,” I said. Tears welled up in my eyes threatening to spill.

He drew my chin up to meet his darkened eyes. “Don’t worry. We have time.” He stroked the side of my face gently, and then traced his finger across my bottom lip. My mouth parted in anticipation. My heart raced and my knees buckled. He bent closer. His eyes never strayed from mine. I knew he wanted a kiss as much as I wanted one. His lips lingered by mine as we stared into each other. His eyes glossing to a warm caramel. He bent his head and closed the gap. Our lips touched. A shiver of delight fluttered through my abdomen. Our lips moved in harmony, the electric current pressed in on us again. It radiated from every crevice of my body.         

       “I love you,” he whispered. He continued to trace kisses along my neck then across my chin.
        I wanted to say I love you, too. But my heart wouldn’t allow me to tell that lie. However, I could be. Soon. If I could remember.                      
Maybe there’s nothing to remember. I slapped back this thought, and continued to kiss my new found soul mate. But with my eyes wide open. 

Have a Great day. Read a book and laugh!

Monday, September 2, 2013


I’ve been thinking about my writing journey thus far. It’s been a tumultuous one – at least emotionally. Why has it been so emotionally charged? Because as an unpublished writer, who is passionate about my craft, I put in the hours to make my stories shine. Or at least I try to.

Why is this bad?

It’s not. We should hone our craft as a writer. After all, doesn’t practice make perfect. Yes. But there's a little known truth, at least in my world, that if you try to do something and after a certain time frame it doesn’t work, you need to stop. To some people, what I do at the wee hours of the night, on my lunch break at work, during the early morning hours before everyone else is kicking, is a hobby. Yes, I’m sorry. I said it. A passionate hobby. That’s what people perceive our efforts as. Not all…but many.

And, truthfully, that assumption used to really irk me. I said ‘used to’ because I try not to allow someone else’s perception of what I do affect me. Their perception won’t alter my passion for writing. It won’t make me stop doing it, or even apologize for it. It only ‘used to’ infuriate me. Not so much anymore.


Well, I found this nifty thing online called: the writing community. Writing can be a lonely endeavor. You sit at your keyboard or with paper and pen alone. For hours. You go through most of the process entirely by yourself. Some people don’t even have critique partners. They are trapped in a maize of perpetual loneliness and torn between their love for the craft and the biting words of others about that passion.

Those naysayers can go kick rocks!

Newbie writers need to take advantage of the writing community. You won’t survive if you don’t ever associate yourself with like minded people. That’s why religious people have church….to fellowship with other people of the same faith/belief. That’s why there are adult sports leagues…for sports enthusiast to find a release with others who enjoy the sport they love. And that’s why there are hundreds of sites dedicated to writers. Here are a few of my favorites:

YALitchat – a great writing community. You can share blog posts, get help with your query, synopsis, and MS. You can share exciting news about projects and learn about other writer’s success stories. It’s a great site for those who write children’s books.

SheWrites – this site is similar to YALitchat except, as the name implies, it caters to the woman writer (but I’ve seen a few men on the site and they didn’t get lynched for being there).

Miss Snark’s First Victim – this is a blog run by the anonymously great Authoress. She offers tons of critique opportunities and exposure to agents through her many contest. Can’t say enough how helpful and fun this site is!

CBI Clubhouse – this site is similar to YALitChat and Shewrites. It’s dedicated to those who write under the children’s umbrella. There are forums to meet and greet/find CP’s and more. There’s also tons of helpful info about the writing process and publication. This site, however, does have a small monthly fee.

Please, please, please seek out these groups/organizations. Writing can be lonely. But you shouldn’t have to feel this way when there are thousands of people, just a click away. No, I can’t promise you these organizations will ensure you get an agent or published, but they lighten the load. They understand your pain – they live it, too. Trust me…you’ll be a happy writer for it.

Have a great day. Read a book and laugh!

Monday, August 26, 2013


I'm rambling today....

1. For my children summer is over. They went back today and I'm partly happy and partly sad. My oldest daughter is starting her senior year. My middle child, my son, is going to the 8th grade. And my youngest daughter is starting 4th grade. They are growing up so quickly. It's hard for me to wrap my head and my heart around the idea that my oldest daughter will be leaving in a year. 

2. It's nice to have older children because I get them to help fill-out the gazillion forms they bring home. My husband says the same thing every year, "Oh. You should have asked me to help with all those papers." This offer is posed after I have blisters on my fingers and they ooze blood...

3. I could really use a giant piece of chocolate fudge cake with chocolate fudge icing. But I think I'll stick to my favorite candy - York Peppermint Patties. I should probably buy stock in the company I eat them so much!

4. I'm currently sending one of my MS out on submissions. I'm so nervous. I hate the waiting game, but I know it's necessary. I'm just glad I haven't taken up biting my nails. Yet.

What's going on in your world?

Have a great day. Read a book and laugh!

Monday, August 19, 2013


When I was in the third grade, personal issues forced me to close myself off a little from others. I, as a child, took a step back from the world, but I took a step closer to the imagined world of books. I had always thought reading was enjoyable. But this was different. I relied on books to do so much more than entertain me. As a child, I didn't fully understand why I needed to read so much. I just knew I needed it. 

Soon, this love for books blossomed into a love for crafting my own stories. Something I had always done aloud with the kids in my family. But now, I was putting my words on paper for others to see. I was stepping forward bravely and telling the world that I had something to say. Unfortunately, no one I knew wrote, or thought about writing as a career. This desire I had drifted away as I grew older. The adults in my life who knew I loved to read and write never questioned it either.

My love for reading persisted, but the idea that I could write fiction dissipated. When I decided on a major for collage, writing resurfaced. It was journalism and not fiction that sounded more within my reach. I never told anyone that I wanted to be a writer. But I had shared stories, written plays for school - things like that. I did have one teacher in high school show interest in my writing and we and talked about writing books. I think he was actually writing one himself. I don't know if he ever wrote the book, though. 

My point about all this...writers need nurturing. Sometimes I think about how good I could be now if I had nurtured the craft, if I had stayed true to what I wanted and pursued it with my whole heart. I know that I cannot go back but I can pay it forward. 

I don't tell my kids their dreams are unattainable because it might be tough for them. I encourage them to push on anyway. I do educate them on their pursued passions and the obstacles they might face because of them but I never discourage. Never!

Have you always felt encouraged in your writing or other endeavors? Did anyone ever tell you, you couldn't do something? What was your reaction?

Have a great day. Read a book and laugh!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


I’m on vacation. The kids are enjoying the lake. I’ve gone horse-back riding; I’ve played golf (with my limited skills) and I’ve had a great time relaxing with my family. But no matter what I do, I find some way to fit my writing into each activity.

This is not something I’ve done intentionally. I’ve even tried to take a real break from writing but all I do is end up thinking about it obsessively. No matter how I try not to do it, I find myself comparing the action in a movie to the action in one of my WIP’s. Or I find myself thinking about one of my characters and how they would hate or enjoy an activity I might be engaged in.

Do these obsessive thoughts make me crazy? I don’t think so. I think it’s probably normal for writers. It’s difficult to suddenly drop a character that’s been with you for years because you want to “do something else for a while.” It almost seems selfish.  Why can’t they tag along, too? Maybe you’ll learn something new about your character that helps with your story.

I’m not saying that you have to be in writer mode 24/7 but if you can go away on vacation and not think about any of your characters, one of your WIP’s, or some aspect of your writing maybe you’re not passionate enough about it. This is my opinion, of course, but it seems the more I write and read – the more I think about these things when I am engaged in activities that have seemingly nothing to do with them.

This has been a good thing: It forces me to see the world differently. I see a potential story-line in the guy in the cabin beside ours, leaning over the railing staring off into space. I see a potential story in the way my oldest daughter’s eyes water and discolor when she comes back from the lake. I watch people as they react to the world around them. I store these reactions for later use when I try to write as descriptively as I can. These are good things.

However, this obsessiveness can have its draw backs. The one area that I find the drawback is my ability to quiet my thoughts and fall asleep. It takes me forever. My brain suddenly goes into rewind and I’m picking over my day and possibly the next… I never fall to sleep immediately unless I’m sick. I’ve been this way so long, it almost seems wrong to count it as a negative. I’m used to it now.

Does your writer brain kick in when you’re doing other activities? Do you find this distracting?



Have a great day. Read a book and laugh

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Sorry, I missed my post day, yesterday. I had a terrible day. It started when I first opened my eyes. Late for work. My mood was instantly foul. I tried to shake it. To snap myself out of it.  Eventually, I gave in to it and sulked to the office.

Once I got there, I decided to glance at my personal email. I shouldn’t have done that. Sitting there, nice and innocent, was a message from Facebook stating that I’d been tagged in a post. Oh, wow. Some writerly wisdom, perhaps. Or an adorable pic of one of my nieces or nephews to lift my sprits.

Nope. It was a message from a family member regarding another family member… not the good kind of info either. But not this person’s fault for sharing it this way – this was her method of reaching most of the family. I understood. But my attitude caught the brunt of it. Oh, then one of my co-workers called in and guess who was stuck doing some of this person’s work!

I tried to shake loose my tude that was down in the dumps. I couldn’t. I eventually gave in to my bitterness. I had to bite my tongue with a few of my customers. Maybe I had a target on my head that said “annoy her here.”  Then at the end of the day, I thought my mood would lift.

It did. But just in time for me to get home and learn that the wi-fi in the house was on the fritz and was screwing up all our cells, the cable, and the house phone. Grrrr!!!! Yeah, AT&T man, you didn’t fix it. I was thoroughly pissed now. And I hate writing at length on my laptop. I only use the laptop when I’m away from my PC. *Do I sound whiny enough?*

My day had been horrible! Nothing went right. And just as I was crawling in to bed, a thought hit me. I had twitted first thing that morning that I had sat myself a writing quota for the week. I hadn’t even been able to write one sentence – let alone get anywhere near what I was supposed to write.

I know you’re tired of me moaning and complaining…I’m off my soapbox. I just needed to vent. Today, I might add, was no where near as terrible as yesterday. How has your week been so far?

Have a great day. Read a book and laugh.

Monday, July 8, 2013


I’ve been so busy today that I barely have time for a post. So…I thought I’d recycle one that I especially thought was helpful from a few years ago – originally posted 9/19/11. I hope you find something here that you can use.


I’m almost finished with my massive, colossal, humongous, edit. These are the rules I live by when editing. Of course, this list isn't all encompassing. There’s a ton of other great tips at your fingertips. So here, I’ve listed only 25 of the ones I can’t forget:

1.  Don’t over do it on the adjectives. But a few sprinkled throughout the MS is fine.

2.  Avoid starting a sentence with – There are/was/is/

3.  Punctuation and grammar are important.

4.  Avoid starting a sentence with – It is/was

5.   You can delete most (not all) instances of the word “that” from your manuscript without changing the meaning of the sentence.

6.  Don’t start all the sentences with the same first word. Can you say boring.  

7.  Structure your sentences so their not all the same length.

8.   Use a comma before “which” in a sentence with a non-restrictive clause (the information could be removed without compromising understanding).

9.  You do not use a comma before “that” in a sentence with a restrictive clause (the information is vital to the meaning).

10.  Keep the dialogue tags to a minimum. Let the character’s personality be the tag.

11.  Show the reader – don’t tell them.

12.  If you can say it properly in 4 words, don’t say it in 10.

13.  Subjects must agree with verbs, pronouns, and objects.

14.  Use the active form of verbs.

15.  Choose your nouns wisely. A carefully selected noun will not need an adjective.

16.   Watch out for overused words: saw/see, can/could, then, just, look, felt …

17.  Don’t make your villain a wuss. Make him as evil and diabolical as you can.

18.  Don’t start your fantasy world off without first establishing the normal world for your protagonist.

19.  If you’re going first person point of view (especially for YA) go deep.

20.  Cut back on the use of the word “was” and “ing” ending words – it slows the pace of the story.

21.  If you’re writing a YA/MG story and your MS is 120,000 words after the revisions and editing- you probably have an issue.

22.  Don’t go it alone – get a Critique Partner and a Beta Reader (more than one if you can).

23.  Pacing is the key to keeping your audience up all night reading.

24.  Do research your setting if you’re writing contemporary realistic fiction.

25.  Not one tip on this page is guaranteed to make your MS a best-seller. But they’ll enhance what you’ve written and make the possibility of a best-seller more a reality than a dream. And if you haven’t already figured it out, some of these rules can be broken and your story still be a best-seller. The key is knowing when to break the rules.

Do you have a writing tip? We’d love to hear it. Please share your tip in the comments.


Have a great day. Read a book and laugh!!!  


Tuesday, July 2, 2013


I’ve been on the zombie thing for a while.
I’ve read Amanda Hocking’s Hollowland series, watched Zombieland with Woody Harrelson, I am Legend with Will Smith and Warm Bodies. I really enjoyed Amanda Hockings books and Zombieland but I was a little disappointed with I am Legend and Warm Bodies. Not that I didn’t like both movies. The concepts were brilliant but I envisioned something…different. They fell a little flat for me.
So when I saw the preview for World War Z, I wasn’t certain I would see it. Then I kicked myself and said “what the heck you thinking? You love Brad Pitt.”
So guess what I did this past weekend?
Yep! My family and I went to see World War Z. It didn’t disappoint. As always, I’m not giving anything away, but I loved the story and the fast moving zombies (kinda like, I am Legend). It had the right balance of action/suspense and drama. It even had a few comical moments. I highly recommend this movie for anyone wanting to catch a great story on the big screen. The acting, not just by Pitt, was solid also, and there are some scenes that are visual masterpieces. I sat in the theatre in awe.
Have you seen the movie? What did you think?

Have a great day. Read a book and laugh!

Monday, June 24, 2013


Yes, folks, those words are that loathed. Well, at least they were/are for me. How is it that we can birth an entire novel but find it laborious to produce 250 words that describe our manuscripts? It’s almost funny.


But the query letter is serious business. Serious Business. Business - being the operative word. Not an opportunity for you to chat with the agent/publisher. It is an opportunity for you to make a great first impression. It is an opportunity for you to showcase your skills as an expert orchestrator of words. It is not the time for you to tell the agent/publisher how great you are. They can glean that information from how well you’ve written the query.

Show, don’t tell. Remember?

What are the keys to a great query letter? Gosh, that’s a hard question and I’m not an agent. But if I take into account what I’ve learned, the following list would be what I would include or not include in a solid query letter:

Query written in the voice the manuscript is written in. What I mean is it is not too safe. An agent doesn’t want to read a boring list of events.

·       Don’t list every major plot in the story…only the most important plot details. Remember it is a “letter” not an essay. So keep it to 200-350 – I think 350 is the higher range but every agent is different.

·       Don’t get bogged down by the details. Make sure to list the most exciting, interesting aspects of the plot - something that will make the agent want to actually read the story. The agent could care less that the MC had a pretty little dog…unless the dog dies then comes back from the grave and terrorizes the MC throughout the manuscript. No reincarnated Cujo – no mention in the query letter.

·       Don’t creep out the agent/publisher. How do you creep them out? By offering to babysit their children for a chance at representation…  By offering up your first born as a sacrifice for publication…. By cyber stalking their every keystroke…

·       Do list why you are seeking representation from this agent. Offer up why you choose this particular agent over the many others you could have chosen. Make sure to list a specific agent/editor when you query – no “Dear Agent/Editor” allowed. The query fairies will find you and sprinkle “you’re an idiot” powder over you as you sleep. People will begin to laugh at you for no apparent reason…but the fairies and the agent/editor will know…

·       Don’t get too gimmicky. Fun and quirky is good. But if you’ve written a children’s story don’t write the query from the perspective of your three year old MC… “Me want you to pick me… UM… not cool. If I were an agent I might recommend a good, tight, straight-jacket.

Have I left off any really great query writing tips? I was certain I would. Share your tips in the comments.




Have a great day. Read a book and laugh.