My Writing Process Blog Tour

Hey everyone. I don’t often do blog tour thingies, but I couldn’t say no to the awesome Lorna Suzuki when she asked if I’d participate. Lorna has written a truckload of books, and the first three books in her Imago fantasy series are being turned into movies. I can’t wait to go see them and brag to my kids that I know the author. If you want to find out more about Lorna and her work, click here for her website.

So, to play the blog tour game, I just have to answer four questions about, you guessed it, my writing process. Here goes.

What am I working on?

I’ve just finished writing the last book in my epic fantasy series The Circle of Talia. Realm of Blood and Fire is with the editor at the moment and will be released through iBooks on 21st July as an ebook. They’ve been really good to me, so I’ve given them a one-month exclusive on the ebook, but the paperback will be available from Amazon on the same date. So I have editing and reading through to come, and when I’m finished, I’m going to start on the next book in my Doris & Jemma Vadgeventure series (yes that’s women’s fiction, not YA fantasy).

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Well, I wouldn’t say that everything I feel is fairly original has never been done before, but I don’t think there are a lot of books out there at the moment being written with the same fantasy tropes as mine (cue a hundred people naming books in the comments thread). I have strong female protagonists, animal companions that can speak to their realmists mind to mind, an original magic system, and sentient dragons who have their own culture and city. I also have gormons, and I know no one else has those :).

Why do I write what I do?

I love fantasy because I love to escape, and I’ve always loved dragons, so I had to have them in my books. And no one can tell me I’m wrong. It’s my world and I made it up, so I’m right ;). I also write horror, women’s fiction and suspense. I write different genres because I enjoy it, and I love pushing my writing boundaries, which I really have with Close Call, my women’s fiction (if you think I’m exaggerating, go read the blurb on Amazon).

How does your writing process work?

I usually know where I want my characters to end up, and I know where they start from, but I’m what’s known as a ‘pantser’—I make it up as I go along. I can write at any time of day or evening, but my brain is usually fried by 10 pm, so if I’m awake, which I usually am at that time, it’s tv or reading that I do rather than writing. If I come across plot problems, my brain works them out quite nicely just as I’m falling asleep or waiting in line at the shops—my brain is fairly good to me and it hasn’t let me down yet (fingers crossed).

After I finish writing my book, I read through it and then send it to the editor. When it comes back from the editor, I go through the edits, and when I’ve done that, I give it one more read through before it goes out. I also used a proofreader for my last book, and I’ll probably do that for this one too (although time is always tight).

Thanks for stopping by and having a read. I’m not sure if I’ve enlightened anyone about anything worthwhile, but hey, you’ve just procrastinated for a couple of minutes—now get back to work! ;).

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Flash Fiction – A Million Little Pieces

Dionne:

I’m busy finishing Realm of Blood & Fire, so thought I’d reblog an older flash fiction that I still love. Hope you enjoy it :).

Originally posted on Dionne Lister - Author:

This flash fiction was inspired by 30 Seconds to Mars’ song Search and Destroy (A Million Little Pieces). I entered it in a flash fiction comp but alas, it didn’t catch the judges’ eye. Not to worry, that’s why I have a blog. Maybe one of you peeps will like reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

A Million Little Pieces

She stood on the creaking deck of an ancient ferry. A million little pieces. Her hands tightened about the railing. Debris from black clouds, invisible in the night sky, stung her face. Which were tears and which were rain; she no longer knew. Closing her eyes, she tilted her face to the infinite space above. A million little pieces.

She imagined she felt his hands about her waist, grounding her as gusting tentacles attempted to carry her off. Where she once felt his warmth…

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“Oh no! There’s too many speech tags,” she said

I know there are tons of grammar blogs that let everyone in on what you should and shouldn’t be doing with your writing. As an editor, everything I suggest is just that: a suggestion. My suggestions, however, are based either in logic or grammar rules. Today I wanted to talk about speech tags, and the following information is not wrong or right, just my opinion.

So, what is a speech tag? It’s the said, asked, suggested etc that comes after dialogue. So: “I just wanted to talk,” he said. As a reader (and editor, and I’m not singling out anyone here) if I have to read through too many he said/she said, I get bored. It’s repetitive and can become boring. So, how can  you tighten your text and still make it clear who is talking?

Scenario 1: If there are only two people talking, the reader can assume who is doing the speaking if we have established at the beginning of the conversation who is who.

“I’m sick,” Sammy said.

“What sort of sick?” asked her mother.

“I want to vomit.”

“Hang on, and I’ll get the bucket.”

If they happen to have a long conversation, you can remind the reader in a few lines, if you think they may lose who is who.

Scenario 2: This works no matter how many people are talking. Get rid of the said, asked, yelled, and use actions or descriptions. It avoids repetition and gives depth to the characters.

“I’m sick.” Sammy’s face looked pale.

“What sort of sick?” Her mother placed a palm on her forehead to test her temperature.

“I want to vomit.”

“Hang on, and I’ll get a bucket.” Her mother ran to the cupboard.

Scenario 3: But I want people to know my character is angry and they’re yelling.

Sometimes it’s better to try and convey how it’s said with actions or with the actual words being said.

Chris saw Samantha standing at the edge of the cliff. He ran toward her. “No, don’t jump!”

It’s obvious he’s yelling, at least it is to me. And I suppose the exclamation mark helped. I’m not a total speech-tag hater; sometimes it’s nice to write, “I think you have toilet paper on the back of your trousers,” she whispered to him as they walked out of the restaurant.

Anyway, as for most things, there’s a time and a place. Read through your story and see if there are some speech tags you can leave out or change to actions. Your readers will be happy you did.

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It’s Incredible! Realm of Blood and Fire Cover Reveal

I’m taking a break from madly writing to reveal the most incredible cover I’ve had the fortune of having for one of my babies. The Circle of Talia series has awesome covers, done by Robert Baird, but he has outdone himself with the cover for the final book in the trilogy: Realm of Blood and Fire. I know it’s my cover, so I’m not exactly unbiased, but I think it’s one of the best covers I’ve ever seen for a fantasy book, and it’s mine, yay! (and yes, I made it huge in this post lol). Readers will be happy to see Flux and Phantom in the foreground. It was amazing for me to see some of my characters come to life on the cover.

realm-blood-fire_ebook_resized

Realm of Blood and Fire will be released on the 21st of July. The paperback will be available from Amazon but the ebook will only be on iBooks—I’ve given them a one-month exclusive because they have been extraordinarily supportive of me throughout my writing career and they let indie authors do preorders. Readers can preorder their copy by clicking on the cover image in this post. The ebook will be available from all other channels as of the 21st of August.

For those who are waiting for Realm of Blood and Fire, I would like to say thanks for giving my first book, Shadows of the Realm, a chance, and thank you to all those who have let me know how much they are loving the series. It will be sad to say goodbye to Bronwyn and the gang, but there is room to write another series later, if I miss them too much. And here’s the blurb:

While the realmists watch, powerless to intervene, the gormons lay waste to Talia, city by city, moving closer to Vellonia each day. As the final battle nears, The Circle can’t meet the conditions of the prophecy, and hope is dwindling. But even if they can unite Talia, the prophecy demands that someone be sacrificed. Can Bronwyn and Blayke do what they must — destroy those they love to save their world?

Don’t wait; run and preorder yours now! :)

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Close Call is FREE for the First Time Ever!

Doris jpeg ebook cover

I’ve just done something I said I’d never do—I’ve put one of my books for free. I’ve always been against free books because authors put a lot of time and effort into writing the book, then spend lots of money getting it edited and putting a cover on it. Just to give other authors (who have not self-published) an idea, this book, even though it’s a novella, has cost me around $800. I had the cover done by a talented designer who does freelance work for one of the big 5 publishers, and my editor Chryse Wymer went through it with a fine-tooth comb. Of course, you can get cheaper covers, but I am really picky about what I want, and this couldn’t be done off the shelf (and some off-the-shelf covers are awesome, but this book needed something different).

So, the book was selling in dribs and drabs, and had it been a different book, I would have bided my time and waited for sales to pick up. But this book is awesome, funny and super original, and I know once someone reads it, they will have to tell their friends. I know you’re probably saying, “Of course you’d say that, you’re the author.” Well, yes, but I’ve had a lot of feedback that confirms my opinion. And I will ask you a few questions that prove this theory. Have you ever read a book about a talking vagina called Doris? Can you imagine vaginas and penises talking to each other and having the conversations you would never be game to have? How can talking genitals not be funny? Doris also has great advice and is determined to save her ‘owner’ Jemma from her own bad decisions. I admit there is an underlying message, and that is that women need to have better self-esteem and stop buying into the whole ‘women are only valuable based on how sexy they are and how appealing they are to men.’

Readers have said:  Absolutely hilarious; Heartwarming; A touching romance;  Too funny and clever; This story had me in stitches. If you don’t believe me, you can find out for yourself, and for the next two weeks it won’t cost you a cent. If you love it you will tell your friends, and maybe even leave a review, and that’s why I’m taking a chance and breaking my ‘no free book’ rule. I really hope you pick it up and enjoy it. Go now! It’s on AmazonSmashwords, Kobo, iBooks.

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A New Must-Read Author—Stacey Roberts

Stacey Roberts is an awesome guy who had a bit of a rotten childhood. He’s made the most of it by growing up to be an intelligent, funny and articulate man who used it to his benefit—he’s written a humorous account of his younger days, which I recommend you grab if you want a laugh. And, in a first for my blog, I have a guest interviewer—author, publisher and podcaster Donna Cavanagh—doing all the hard work. Take it away guys!

trailer trash

1.Tell us about Stacey Roberts: Where were you born and where did you grow up?

I was born in New Jersey, in a little town called Garwood. We lived there for nearly ten years before we moved into the famous Winnebago and traveled the country. We went from New Jersey to San Diego, California, to Lake Tahoe, California (where my stepfather Ted the Drug Dealer began his life of crime) to Hollywood, Florida (where he perfected it).

2. How would you describe your family life growing up?

My mother, my grandmother, and my aunt all lived pretty close to us in New Jersey, so we got to see family all the time. My parents got divorced when I was five, and after that we moved into the basement of our house like we were hiding out from the agents of a totalitarian regime. My mother needed the living space to start a business. For the next ten years, I lived in spaces that weren’t much bigger than my bed. I also remember being very poor; there was never money for anything, but it didn’t stop my mom – we took vacations and things like that, just always on the cheap. We went to Washington, DC once and slept in the car at the Washington Monument. The DC police enjoyed that.

3. A lot of people have “dysfunctional” childhoods and grow up bitter. You went the funny route. How has humor helped you? (not trying to be insulting here but trying to show that it was not all fun and games for you.)

Humor was a surprising side-effect. I had been telling these stories for years to my friends, expecting sympathy, a hug, or maybe some edible food (since my mother can’t cook). I was looking to share my pain. But all my friends just kept laughing. That was my first sign that my dysfunctional childhood was not as tragic as I thought (or hoped). Once people whose opinion I trusted told me that my childhood was hilarious, I started looking for the funny instead of the sad. Perspective is everything.

4. Your book  is funny and poignant.  How did it make you feel writing it?  What about your family?  Did you consult them writing it?

Dysfunctional or not, you only get one childhood. One of the symptoms of growing old is that you forget what it was like to be a kid, with all the wonder and helplessness that comes with it. Writing this book made me remember incidents and even people I had forgotten. The next door neighbor who kind of took my father’s place after the divorce – the guy who could fix my bike or teach me to throw a baseball, the kids my age who I ran around the neighborhood with, etc. Stephen King once wrote that you never have friends as good as the ones you had when you were a kid. I was glad that writing this book made me remember them.

Some of my cousins read these stories in blog form. They were the best sounding board, because they told me that I had nailed the characters of my mother, my brother, Ted the Drug Dealer. They never knew about some of the stories, particularly the ones after we moved into the motor home and left the east coast. The feedback from my cousins could be distilled down to, “Well. That explains a lot.”

My mother hasn’t read them. She doesn’t have Internet. My brother read a couple and took issue with them – he never thought he was the favorite son. It is important for him (and the readers) to know that this book is not a memoir – I took events from my childhood and added a few things for humor’s sake, and exaggerated some of the characters. But the people who know my mother recognize her easily in the book.

Finally, one of the things I gained from writing Trailer Trash is a whole new appreciation for my mother. I may have disagreed with her methods, but she did the best she could after her divorce with two small kids.

5. Besides the humor, what is the one thing you want a reader to take away from this book?

Family matters.

6. Tell us about your writing? You have another career as well, so what made you decide to be a writer as well?

I always wanted to be a writer. I was carrying around a notebook at 11, making up stories.  I went to college to get a history degree – I have a masters in European History, but I started an IT company while in grad school. The career I have now is the side job that’s lasted 20 years. If I could write books and teach full time and still be able to maintain the lifestyle my daughters have become accustomed to, I would do that.

7. What are your future writing plans?  Where would you like to go from here? Would you stay in humor or do you want to try other genres as well.

I have a series of four Trailer Trash stories called The Fall of Ted the Drug Dealer – the story of the cop who pursued him and put an end to his life of crime. After that, Trailer Trash, With a Girl’s Name Book 2. I am also working on a novel called Rain Songs about the Kennedy assassination that is due out this November. Mark Gosson, creator of the Xombee Guy webcomic and I are working on a zombie novel unlike any in the genre that we hope to have out in 2014.

You can grab Trailer Trash With a Girl’s Name at all ebook retailers, and you can follow Stacey on Twitter @SRoberts1971.

stacey roberts

Stacey Roberts

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Indie-Movie Lovers—Don’t Miss Out on This Red Carpet Premier!

 

 

I know this is primarily a blog about books, but hey, there’s no law against sharing awesome news about indie movies :). Here’s one a little dragon told me about and it looks like a lot of fun. Wish I lived in Washington D.C. (well I don’t really but maybe wish I was visiting) so I could attend. Don’t have too much fun without me!night of the templar

Do you have your ticket yet? You cannot miss the red carpet premiere of Night of the Templar. Here’s the deets: Written, produced, directed and stars Paul Sampson. Let’s not forget stars Norman Reedus of The Walking Dead, Udo Kier of Blade, Billy Drago of The Untouchables and it is the last feature film of the late, great David Carradine of Kill Bill and Kung Fu. Tickets include pre-event reception, screening, Q&A, celebrity after party.

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