Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Word Witch Wednesday - brewing a book series

Deciding to write a series or a standalone book is tough. It's important to take your story idea and weigh the options. I'm going to assume you've already sat back and figured that out, and you want to write a series.

Book series are popular. Readers love to follow their favorite characters through all sorts of adventures. But there's nothing more disappointing than picking up the new book of one of your favorite series and finding the story fell flat. I've abandoned many series because the story faltered and the characters didn't grow.

Here are five tips to help you build a successful book series:

1) Make certain your story idea has enough juice to last through the whole series. If the plot flops after the second or third book, you're going to lose readers. Each book must have a solid story that can stand on its own and interconnect with the previous books. It helps if you're a plotter to plan the series. As a pantser, even I made certain when I was writing TOTEM, I had a solid story idea for each book before I started. Sure, those ideas were as simple as "they will search for the ____ totem in this book," but each one had a purpose in the overall plot.

2) Keep a story bible. Plotters usually have this started before they begin to write the first chapter. I keep notes as I go along. I mark down the basic plot points in each chapter and record character traits. It is also wise if you go back and read the previous books in the series before starting on the next one.

3) Don't limit your fictional world. You want to have room for growth. There will be rules and borders, of course, but a book series needs space to stretch and expand. Your characters might be trapped in a walled city, but there is a whole unknown world out there for you to continue on in if you want to do so.

4) Characters must grow. Characterization is vital to a series. Readers want the heroes they adore and the villains they loathe, but it wouldn't be realistic if the characters stayed the same throughout each book. Time has passed. A person will not be the same today as they were last year or even last month. Some internal issues we struggle with for years, but there will be little changes in attitude, a bit of wisdom gained, and possibly a fashion makeover.

5) Be able to let go. If the overall story arc comes to an end or if your individual story ideas disappear, know when to call it quits. I hate it when I read a series and it's the same plot over and over. "This love triangle has been going on for twenty books. Have the protagonist choose one already!" Sometimes it's tough to let go of characters and worlds we've come to love, but you'll fall in love again. That's one of the wonderful things about being a writer.

Have you written a book series? Do you plan to? What tips do you have to share?

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Happy Valentines Day

Like I need an excuse to eat chocolate, right?

What is your favorite Valentines Day treat or tradition? For me, the thrill will be tomorrow when all the candy goes on sale!

I have a treat for you today. A trio of delectable books all free for five days!

The Sasquatch Susies is about three Bigfoot hunters and their adventures with love. Add in some mystery and suspense, and you have a potent mix. Yes, the stories are a little naughty, but that just makes them even sweeter. Just click on the image above.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Talk Dirty To Me #Romance Book Promo

Whether you enjoy a sweet romance or something naughty, there are stories here for every reader. Grab a box of chocolates and fill up your ereader with all these fantastic books!

Talk Dirty To Me is hosted by Fantasy Book Giveaways. Not only did they organize this awesome sale, but you don't want to miss out on the giveaway!

Right now, my Paramours trilogy is free!

More woo than boo.

Yes, all three books are FREE! Just click on the image above.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

#IWSG for February 2018

The Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG) is the brilliant idea of Alex J. Cavanaugh. The purpose of the group is to share doubts and insecurities and to encourage one another. Please visit the other participants and share your support. A kind word goes a long way.

This month's awesome co-hosts are: Stephen Tremp, Pat Garcia,Angela Wooldridge, Victoria Marie Lees, and Madeline Mora-Summonte!

This month's optional IWSG question: What do you love about the genre you write in most often?

I write urban fantasy most often. I love the myths and magic, and then placing those in our modern day world. Finding out how supernatural beings fit in our society, how they work, the secrets, the adventures. Our seemingly cold technological world doesn't need to be without magic.

My insecurities this month: I'm writing the final book of my trilogy. Right now, I'm in love with the second book. It's as fantastic as the first. But this third one, I don't know. Will it be as good as the first two? Will it be a spectacular ending to the trilogy? Or will it flop?

I'm trying not to think about those things as I'm writing, but those doubts creep up on me. It's not an unusual thing. I always wonder if the book I'm writing will be better than the last. It should be if I'm learning and growing as a writer. But what if it isn't? What if it all sucks?

IWSG newsletter news: Have you subscribed to the IWSG newsletter yet? We have helpful articles and links, and a featured industry guest each month. For February, we have Lisa Cron (author of Wired for Story and Story Genius). I'm so excited!

If you're an IWSG member and you have some news you'd like to share with the group, drop me an email at and I'll put it in the newsletter.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Making of a Cover - Of Gods and Sorrow

The cover for Of Blood and Sorrow (OBaS) was designed by a professional. Erin Dameron-Hill is tremendously talented. I had no idea what exactly I wanted for a cover, but she knew just what to do. I saw the project go from the simple model image to the cover you see above.

A year ago, I received a month long subscription to BigStock, and I bought two images of the same model on that cover. I was determined to expand my skills and make the next two covers in this trilogy.

Of course, nothing ever goes as planned.

I've been practicing and improving my designing skills. My husband bought me a newer version of Photoshop, and it has so many more tools to play with.

Having finished the first draft of book two called Of Gods and Sorrow (OGaS), I set about making the cover with the image of the same model. It was going to be spectacular. I knew what I wanted. All I had to do was... use a different image.

The model is standing in an odd position. Does anyone naturally stand like that?

So I went through the many images I had collected and found one that worked much better. It's not the same model, but she looks very similar. She's squatting like on the cover of OBaS. Apparently my protagonist, Erin, is super at squats.

The coloring of the image was better for what I wanted too. One of the locations in OGaS is an underground cavern with a lake of fire. I wanted the drama of it. It would be a good contrast to the starkness of the OBaS cover. But it still had to feel like it was part of a series... and not just because Erin is squatting.

The trick to making the cover was layers. Many layers. Twenty-four layers, in fact. Some of the layers are little bits, but other layers are full faded images. If you look at the cover of OBaS, you can see several layers, and they blend together so nicely.

I had to change the coloring to make it look like a cave with a fire. I messed up Erin's hair, gave it some redness from the reflection of the fire. She needed pants too. Erin rarely wears dresses. Then the awesome weapon and some graffiti on the cave wall. Erin doesn't have tattoos, but she has spots. So yes, many layers.

The title font was hard to match, but I made it work. I originally wanted to go with a green surrounding glow, but it didn't look quite right. My plan had been to use blue for the final cover, but blue worked perfectly against this fiery cover.

My tips if you want to try your hand at designing a book cover:
1) Be flexible. What you have in mind might not work out. Always have a Plan B. And C.
2) Layers. It might look daunting when you first start, but if you do it piece by piece, it's easier.
3) Have other eyes on it. I have great critique partners that have seen all the rough trial covers. They'll help point you in the right direction.

And now, what you've been waiting for. The finalized cover of OGaS.

What do you think? Have you ever tried your hand at cover design?

P.S. I'm focusing on writing for the rest of the month. I'll see you on the first Wednesday of February for IWSG!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

#IWSGPit for January 2018

It's time for the January 2018 #IWSGPit!
This event is an amazing opportunity for writers. The first pitch last year was a trending topic on Twitter. We have a ton more agents and publishers involved with this one.

I hope you have your tweets polished and ready to go. The pitch goes from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.

Create a Twitter length pitch for your completed and polished manuscript. Leave room for genre, age, and the hashtag. Tweet your pitch. If your tweet receives a favorite/heart from a publisher or agent, check their submission guidelines and send your requested query.


1. Writers can only send out one tweet per hour per manuscript. You will be monitored by the IWSG team to make certain it is fair for everyone.

2. Publishers and agents will favorite/heart the manuscripts they are interested in. Writers, please do not favorite anyone else's pitches.

3. No images allowed in pitches.

4. Pitches must include genre/age and the hashtag #IWSGPit.

#C - children's
#MG - middle grade
#YA - young adult
#NA - new adult
#A - adult

#AD - adventure
#CF - Christian fiction
#CO - contemporary
#F - fantasy
#H - horror
#HI - historical
#LF - literary fiction
#MCT - mystery/crine/thriller
#ME - memoir
#NF - non-fiction
#PB - picture book
#PN - paranormal
#R - romance
#SF - sci-fi
#WF - women's fiction

Good luck!

Monday, January 15, 2018

Tick Tock Cover Reveal!

The clock is ticking...

Can a dead child’s cross-stitch pendant find a missing nun? Is revenge possible in just 48 minutes? Can a killer be stopped before the rescuers are engulfed by a city ablaze? Who killed what the tide brought in? Can a soliloquizing gumshoe stay out of jail?

Exploring the facets of time, eleven authors delve into mysteries and crimes that linger in both dark corners and plain sight. Featuring the talents of Gwen Gardner, Rebecca M. Douglas, Tara Tyler, S. R. Betler, C.D. Gallant-King, Jemi Fraser, J. R. Ferguson, Yolanda Renée, C. Lee McKenzie, Christine Clemetson, and Mary Aalgaard.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these eleven tales will take you on a thrilling ride into jeopardy and secrecy. Trail along, find the clues, and stay out of danger. Time is wasting...

Release date: May 1st, 2018

Isn't the cover fantastic? Congratulations again to all the winners of the IWSG short story contest. It's an awesome collection.

Don't forget the next IWSG Twitter Pitch is this Thursday on the 18th. Writers, polish up your pitches and prepare your tweets. There are a ton more agents and publishers involved this year. It's a great opportunity. For the #IWSGPit rules, just click on the image.