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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Choose Your Setting Wisely (or You Might Live to Regret It)

by J. Kathleen Cheney

Back in 2009, I set out to write a novelette set in the early 1900s in Venice but, to make some plot elements fit better, I blithely switched the location to Porto, Portugal. 

At the time, I had no idea of the ramifications of that choice….because the novelette went on to spawn a series of novels that ended up selling to Penguin (Ace/Roc).  What did that mean for me?  Well, it meant Research.  Tons of Historical Research

It turned out to be a wonderful choice, but that choice also had its drawbacks.  I'd previously researched stories set in the same decade in Saratoga Springs, New York, so I had a bit of a leg up.  However, Portugal is a completely different setting than New York. 
As I began to research the country, it became clear to me how very little I knew of Portuguese history, literature, and culture.  I dove in head first only to discover that many of the resources I needed were not even available in English.  Since machine translators are iffy at best, I had to start learning Portuguese just to do my research.  Imagine the difficulty of doing a Google search in a language you barely understand.  I had bitten off more than I could chew...but I stuck with it.

Now I know there are things that I got wrong.  There are some that I intentionally changed to make the books more readable to an English-speaking audience.  But I have spent the last three years immersed in Iberia's history and came out of this experience with some hints I'd like to share about picking a historical setting:

1) The more familiar a place is, the more research materials will be available…
If you're writing about England or the U.S. in 1900, there will be ample sources of information available to you.  As the setting becomes less familiar, information about it becomes harder and harder to find.  If I'd stuck with Venice, I would have had a plethora of travel guides (in English) to help me research that city because it's a common tourist destination.  Porto, on the other hand, regularly gets skipped in tourist manuals.  Travel writers like Rick Steves or Rudy Maxa?  For their TV shows featuring travel in Iberia, neither of them has stopped in Porto. 
2)…but an obscure setting gives you some leeway.

One advantage of 1900 Portugal is that most English-speakers don't know much about the setting.  My early readers missed mistakes I'd made simply because they had limited familiarity with the place and the culture.  My general guideline is that if I can't find a fact after an hour's diligent searching on the internet, it's unlikely that the average reader will know the fact either…and I can safely extrapolate an answer from what I do know.

3) Be aware that you may hit a language barrier.
When I started researching Portugal, I had no idea that so few of their great works of literature had been translated into English.  Oddly, it was easier for me to find Chinese poetry for stories set in 1200 China than Portuguese poetry for a book set in 1900.  This is definitely something you should consider before selecting a setting.
4) History has hot spots.  Be cautious about stepping into one.
There are a lot of times, places, and people in history that need to be handled with kid gloves.  The holocaust in Germany?  The great depression in Oklahoma?  Regency London?  There are far more people who have expertise about those settings than there are experts on my 1902 Portugal setting.  You're more likely to strike a nerve if you're not very careful how you handle these settings.  If you get table manners in Regency London wrong, you will get emails about it.  This is even more true if there are people alive who have personal connections to that time and place (for example, 1980 Chicago), so be aware that you might run into opposition with some settings.
My final advice?  Once you've picked your setting, go ahead and fall in love with it.
I chose Portugal on a whim, but what I found when I began researching my setting was a complex and fascinating country that had once controlled half the world, left their language and religion in their wake, and contributed far more to my everyday life than I had ever suspected.  I fell in love with that country.  In 2012 when we took our first vacation in five years, my husband was kind enough to travel around Iberia with me to see it firsthand. 
And all I can hope is that my love for that setting comes through in my words.

J. Kathleen Cheney is a former teacher and has taught mathematics ranging from 7th grade to Calculus, with a brief stint as a Gifted and Talented Specialist.  Her short fiction has been published in Jim Baen's Universe, Writers of the Future, and Fantasy Magazine, among others, and her novella "Iron Shoes" was a 2010 Nebula Award Finalist and PRISM Finalist.  Her debut novel, "The Golden City" will come out from Penguin, November 5, 2013.

Her website can be found at www.jkathleencheney.com

Monday, August 26, 2013

How I Used Divination Tools (and cats!) to Reinforce my Theme

by Jill Archer
The second book in my Noon Onyx series, Fiery Edge of Steel, has a knowledge theme: things you should know, things you don’t know, things you know but wished you didn’t, etc. Both the plot and sub-plot involve the element of knowledge, or lack thereof, but I also wanted to support this theme in other ways.

The first was that I used cats as a repeating motif in the story. Why cats? Well, besides the obvious "All Writers Must Love Cats" Rule – ;-) – I’ve always associated cats with knowledge. They may not be as wise as owls, but they are curious. Everyone’s heard the phrase, "Curiosity killed the cat." So I took that idea and incorporated it into my novel. For example:
* Fara, one of the biggest secondary characters, has a pet tiger.
* Delgato, the captain of the sailboat named Cnawlece ("Knowledge"), which Noon and her investigative team take to the Shallows, is a manticore – a sphinxlike creature who is part lion. I drew inspiration for the character from the children’s song "Don Gato" (the song about the cat who falls off his roof and dies but then comes back to life when he smells fish from the market).
* And, because I pepper my stories with little bits and pieces of backstory, there are some references to two fictional demons, the doomed lovers Curiositus (a monster-sized goldfish) and Cattus (a feline demoness).

Another way that I supported my knowledge theme was to create a handful of divination tools, which also served two other purposes. They were useful at various plot points (see below) and they helped to more fully flesh out the world and its magic.

This divination tool was introduced at the start of the novel. After the opening chapter, Noon has lunch off campus at a place called "The Black Onion." It’s a small, riverside cafĂ© with only four things on the menu: the soup of the day, the bread of the day, the catch of the day… and black onions, which are the Haljan version of a Magic 8 Ball.

How many of you played with a Magic 8 Ball when you were a kid? I did. In fact, I had so many fond memories of using one, that I bought my kids one. Here’s a picture of it. If you look closely, you can even see my reflection. (Ha! ;-)) My Haljan black onions work similarly, but with some differences. A Haljan black onion can answer a question – any question – so long as the person asking it has sailed the river Lethe (which, by the way, happens to means "oblivion" or lack of knowledge). Once a sailor has asked their question, they peel the onion and the answer is written inside the onion on a piece of paper as thin as… well, onion skin, of course!

Noon is given a black onion at the start of the story and it reappears throughout. In a small way, the black onion reinforced my knowledge theme and was one more reason for readers to keep turning the page. Would Noon ask the black onion a question? If so, what question would she ask? And what would the answer be?

In my stories, Angels are spellcasters. They have all sorts of roles: guardian, interpreter, and scribe. But some of the more creatively inclined make art or wine and cast spells over them. One batch of wine in Fiery Edge of Steel is called "Fortuna’s Favorite." (Fortuna was the Roman goddess of fortune and I used that mythology to create a similar Haljan deity).

Fortuna’s Favorite is "pink and fizzy and flecked with gold" with a bitter, chalky taste. After Noon is given her assignment, she is offered a sip. The wine is like a fortune cookie. She drinks from the cup and wipes her mouth on a napkin. Her fortune appears in a stain of words on the napkin:
"When traveling into the unknown,
sometimes the biggest danger is the one you bring with you…"
Noon’s fortune in this scene reinforced my knowledge theme, served as foreshadowing, and became the tagline of the book. (I tried to have it put on the cover, but my editor told me that the art department would kill me – it’s way too long! :-D) But the thing I love most about it is, by the end of the book, Noon’s fortune can be interpreted several different ways.

Because my books feature a character who’s training to be a Maegester (a "modern day" knight who’s studying demon law), I try to work a few legal concepts into each story. The trial by ordeal seemed tailor made for Fiery Edge of Steel because it’s a method of determining guilt or innocence by divine intervention. Historically, it involved questionable "justice" practices like dunking, boiling, or forcing someone to walk over hot coals. The idea that an accused might escape from these tortures unharmed or even alive – and that such would automatically prove their innocence – is horrifying.

So I created a divination tool that would administer a trial by ordeal to an accused and then worked it into my story. That tool is "waerwater," the poisonous sap from a big, old, magical tree. (My description is slightly more detailed in the book. ;-)) In the story, an accused has the right to demand a trial by waerwater. They drink it. If they live, they are deemed innocent by divine intervention. There is no need for a trial – no need for the truth. Knowledge of actual guilt or any other evidence is irrelevant. Like the first two divination tools, I referred to waerwater repeatedly throughout the novel and then used it in my climatic scene.

So, what about you? What tools do you use to reinforce your theme? Do you have any questions about theme and how to support it? How about cats? Do you own one? Do you want one? Do you think every writer should have one? :-D Thanks so much to Nancy and everyone here at FF&P for inviting me here to guest blog today!
More about Fiery Edge of Steel
Lucifer and his army triumphed at Armageddon, leaving humans and demons living in uncertain peace based on sacrifice and strict laws. It is up to those with mixed demon and human blood, the Host, to prevent society from falling into anarchy.

Noon Onyx is the first female Host in memory to wield the destructive waning magic that is used to maintain order among the demons. Her unique abilities, paired with a lack of control and reluctance to kill, have branded her as an outsider from her peers. Only her powerful lover, Ari Carmine, and a roguish and mysterious Angel, Rafe Sinclair, support her unconventional ways.

When Noon is shipped off to a remote outpost to investigate several unusual disappearances, a task which will most likely involve trying and killing the patron demon of that area, it seems Luck is not on her side. But when the outpost settlers claim that an ancient and evil foe has stepped out of legend to commit the crimes, Noon realizes that she could be facing something much worse than she ever imagined…
More about Jill
Jill Archer is the author of the Noon Onyx series, genre-bending fantasy novels from Penguin/Ace. DARK LIGHT OF DAY and FIERY EDGE OF STEEL are available now. WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE will be available 5/27/14.
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Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Perfect Balance: Integrating Writing into a Chaotic Life

by Angela Dennis

One of the main issues many writers face is balancing life with writing. 

We are constantly besieged with responsibilities that pull us away from the computer (or notebook).  It is all too easy to let our writing fall to the wayside in the midst of everyday chaos.   The purpose of this blog isn’t to preach about how we all should make writing our top priority, or to lecture you to write every day so your muse doesn’t dry up. 

That would make me a hypocrite, which is something I work very hard to avoid.  I am writing this blog to share my experiences, and what works for me.  If, in the process, I help one of you meet your pending deadline without having to drown yourself in coffee while pulling an all-nighter, I will consider this a success.  That being said, let’s begin the journey.

Step One:  Get Comfortable

And no I am not defining comfortable as sweats and t-shirts, a cozy room and a big cup of hot chocolate (although that tends to work for me).  Comfort is as personalized as a favorite color or ice cream flavor.  The purpose of this step is to get your muse ready to work. Find a way to differentiate between the time you are living your novel and the time you are living your life.  I understand this may seem impossible.  Case in point, as I write this my one year old is screaming at me and trying to unplug my computer.  Life happens.  Do the best you can. 

Step Two: Get Your Family Involved

My husband and I live very hectic lives.  He works full time and is in nursing school full time.  I work full time and write full time.  We also have a special needs child with specialized medical needs.  So…life is chaotic.  After my son was born, my husband and I sat down and made a plan.  We looked at the “free time” we had each week and carved out the hours.  I get a set amount of hours each weekend to write.  He gets a set amount of hours to study.  We also schedule family time to make sure we spend time together with our son and with each other.  This works for us.  Give it a try, maybe it will work for you.

Step Three: Set Goals

I am a BIG believer in goals.  I set daily page goals and monthly chapter goals.  But goals are dangerous.  Fight the urge to beat yourself up if you don’t meet them.  Think of it as dieting.  If you do really well all day then come home and grab a cookie, you can’t throw your hands up and binge on sugar the rest of the night (I speak from experience, people.  This is why I hate diets).  If you don’t meet your page goal one day, don’t toss your hands up, throw your goals into the fireplace, and not write the rest of the week.  Goals are living things.  They are meant to be adjusted and tailored.  It is impossible to know what is going to work for you until you start the process.  But you can’t abuse your goals (i.e. set a page count far below what you know you can accomplish) and expect to be more productive.   Be wise in your goal setting.  Don’t overshoot and discourage yourself, but don’t undershoot and defeat the purpose.

Step Four: Be Flexible

In a perfect world we would have an expansive office in which to write.  Our book covers would grace the walls and our favorite craft books would overflow beautiful mahogany bookshelves.  There would be no interruptions and time would be limitless.  Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world.  Be willing to write anywhere, at any moment.  Jot down story ideas while you’re sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s office.  Play your scenes in your head while cooking dinner.  Plot your next few chapters with your family at the dinner table.  Do anything and everything (within reason) to get that book moving along. 

Finding that perfect balance between writing and life is a struggle.  You have to find what works for you, in your circumstances.  This is my stab at it. I hope it helps.  We are all in this crazy life together, so I would love to hear what steps you’ve taken to help you down the path.
Angela Dennis has been writing since she could put pen to paper.  A lifelong lover of books and fantastical stories, her writing is inspired by the insanity of everyday life mixed with a dash of the incredible.  When not writing, this Kentucky native can be found romping through the great outdoors with her husband and son, or curled up with a good book and a piping hot cup of java.  Her latest novel SHADOWS OF FATE, Book One in the Shadow Born Series, will be released from Samhain Publishing in the Spring of 2014. 
Angela loves to hear from her readers. 
You can visit here:
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Monday, August 19, 2013

Sensing Your Way to Sexy Alien Ghost Sex That Smells Like Roses, or Using Five Senses When Writing Paranormal

by Sapphire Phelan

When a writer writes a short story, novella, or novel, a writer always uses the five senses in telling the tale. This pulls the reader into the story, brings them closer to the hero/heroine and yes, even the villain, plus many other characters involved with the storyline. Stories and novels are words on paper, not celluloid. And since authors are artists, you are painting a picture for them. Bringing it to life like a movie on the big screen.  

We all know what the five senses are, but here they are anyway: sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing. When the hero in a paranormal romance makes love with the heroine for the first time (or all the other times too), the reader wants to feel the moment, taste it, know what sounds lovemaking makes, see the what the lovers see, and even the scents of sex. All this will aroused the reader and make them fall in love with the characters as the writer has when she/he written it.  

And with romance being important in a paranormal romance, then the five senses are what are needed to blossom it in vibrant color. 

Example from a short story of mine no longer in print:

Sarah closed her eyes, enjoying the sensation of his lips on her skin. His fingers under her chin and drew her chin forward. Shocked, she popped her eyes open when his hard, sensuous lips captured hers, gentle at first, then growing more demanding and taking what she had to give. What she wanted to give. Her tongue slipped in and found a fresh, minty flavor.
She circled her arms around his neck and he enfolded her closer. Her nipples hardened as her breasts pressed against his chest. His hardness poked at her stomach and she gasped against his lips. Taking a deep breath, she breathed in a sexy aftershave that reminded her of limes.

“Love your aftershave.”

“I don’t use an aftershave, not while I am the super hero.”

Oh my, it’s him.. 

The reader learns that the hero’s (um, super hero) skin has a great odor that entices the woman, his mouth shows he must gargle, and both are becoming aroused. You learn a little bit more about the two characters in this love scene. This is done, whether a sweet scene of romance or hot and heavy sexual intercourse with the gloves off erotic sex scene. Whichever you write, you want the reader to feel, smell, taste, touch and see it all, exposĂ© the intimate details. Without the five senses the sex scene or even a simple kiss becomes boring, even bad writing. 

And since this is paranormal, another type of sense would be the sixth sense, appropriate to the story you are telling, whether a psychic, shifter, vampire, sorcerer, witch, alien, fairy,  or any other being connected to the supernatural, fantasy, or science fiction worlds. Unscientific senses can be just as powerful, if not more so, than the conventional ones. And they also happen to be a great way of foreshadowing dramatic events to come.
Sapphire Phelan  

Blurb from The Witch and The Familiar:

Mortal woman Tina discovers she is part of a prophesy that says she and Charun, her demon Familiar, must make love so she can become the witch she is fated to be. If she doesn't do it and stop the demon army bringing Armageddon to the Mortal Realm on Halloween, she won't stand a chance in Hell.
A year later, just when Tina and Charun thought it was all over and that their life would be normal—another prophesy pops up. If Lucifer snatches Tina and mates with her before the last chime before midnight of the new year and gets her pregnant with his son, that the real Armageddon would begin, spelling the end of life as they knew it. This time they get help from an archangel, Jacokb, but with demons, Lucifer, and a cute demon bunny with fangs out of a Monty Python nightmare, out to stop them and Heaven not lending a hand, will Tina this time lose the battle and become the mother of the Antichrist and the start of a new Hell on Earth?

About Sapphire Phelan:

Sapphire Phelan has published erotic and sweet paranormal/fantasy/science fiction romance along with a couple of erotic horror stories. Her erotic urban fantasy, Being Familiar With a Witch is a Prism 2010 Awards winner and a Epic Awards 2010 finalist. The sequel to it is A Familiar Tangle With Hell, released June 2011 from Phaze Books, Both eBooks were combined into one print book, The Witch and the Familiar, and released April 24, 2012.

She admits she can always be found at her desk and on her computer, writing. And yes, the house, husband, and even the cats sometimes suffer for it!Dark heroes and heroines with bite...sink your teeth into a romance by Sapphire Phelan today. Contact her at:

Website       Facebook      Twitter

Thursday, August 15, 2013

FF&P On-Line Workshop Line-up


The Fantasy-Futuristic and Paranormal Chapter of the RWA Presents the line up of great workshops for 2013! Click here to see the full line up: http://romance-ffp.com/page/workshops


Setting in Paranormal-presented by Tina Gerow Aug.19-25: The settings for paranormal stories are just as important as the paranormal characters themselves. After all, what would Harry Potter be without Hogwarts? Join me to explore some things to think about when building this "character" for your story.
Unforgettable Characters-Dynamic Dialogue-presented by Kit Frazier   Sept. 2-13: What do Indiana Jones, Darth Vadar, Erin Brocovich and Cruella DeVille have in common? Memorable characteristics, unforgettable dialogue. In this class, we'll look at some of the most memorable characters and learn to create your own, how to write great character-driven plots and create Character Sheets and a Character Bible.

Ladies, Lechery, and Lace-presented by Pat Hauldren   Sept 9-22: Alluring ladies of literature. How to improve your female characters characters and the men who play off them. (particularly in paranormal/fantasy/gothic literature.

Three Act Plotting-presented by Monette Michaels   Sept. 9-22: Whether you are a pantser or a plotter, there are certain plot elements that are essential to every story. This class will take you through a simple plot point method to ensure your novel will grab and hold the attention of your readers. The class will also look at GMC and how character development is an essential part of every plot. Plus, we will cover some simple methods to keep your middles from dragging or you hitting the wall. The class will be a combination of lecture, and each class member will be expected to plot point a novel which will be critiqued by the instructor.



Monday, August 12, 2013

Hung Up on the Small Stuff

by  Monette Michaels 

Have you ever started writing a book and then couldn't move forward because you got stuck on details in your world?  This isn't a sagging middles problem or hitting a wall issue since both of those tend to be something wrong with your plot. This is more of a world-building-creating-stasis type of problem. 
I know several aspiring authors who do this. They are good writers with creative minds and decent plots, but can't finish a novel or even a novella. I can't tell you how many partials B good partials B I've critiqued from authors like this. I tell them "finish the damn book and then worry about the little things later," but many of them can't seem to get past the details. 
My diagnosis: They have a form of world-builder's disease B micro-managementitis. It's symptoms are amnesia B the author has forgotten she is primarily a story teller B and paralysis B the author has become stuck on the small stuff. Micro-managementitis is a common side effect of the major world-building disease, The Dreaded Info Dumpitis, in which an author wants to put all her research into her story.

And it's not just paranormal/fantasy/science fiction authors who contract this debilitating and story-sabotaging disease.  Face it, all authors build worlds. Whether you write paranormal, science fiction, urban fantasy, historical, contemporary, or romance in all its subgenres, you are creating a world B and you want your novel's world to ring true, be consistent, and set a mood or backdrop for the plot. 

Ahh, plot B you know what that is B it's the whole reason you are writing the book to begin with B you are telling a story. In order to do so, you need a beginning, a middle, and an end and interesting characters with goals, motivations, and conflicts. And until you have those crucial elements, you do not have a story.  Everything else, including world building, is merely backdrop.

To cut to the chase, you can spend three years, five years, heck, twenty years, sweating the details and finally get one book done, OR, you can force yourself to see the big picture, write a complete first draft in less than six months, and then go back and sweat the details. Which author do you want to be? 

I will now admit that I am a card‑carrying member of the 12‑Step Program for Micro-managementitis. I, too, used to get hung up on the small stuff, BUT I have found a way that helped me get a book done. And it can easily be done with one simple step.

To avoid getting hung up on the small stuff, as I write, I put NOTES in brackets and highlight them in yellow within the manuscript where I know I need details that either I haven't thought out yet or have no research on and know I need to research it (such as gun types or time/distance between Chicago and DC, or whatever). Then I can continue to write "knowing" I will fix those things on the next draft. 

Anyone reading my first draft would get a good laugh at all my notes B no one sees that draft but me, EVER.
On the second, third draft, up to how ever many I need, I will go back and add layers of detail B I call it "texturizing" my story B or you can call it world building. 

Adding the micro details to the macro world on subsequent drafts allows me to lovingly craft my world at my leisure once the story is completed. At that point, I can go back and do the fun stuff by adding layers and nuances that will make my story richer.

Acknowledging through my use of notes that I need to add a detail, such as figuring out a propulsion system for my space ship, is a big relief.  I am telling my brain:  "It's okay B you'll fix it on the next draft B keep writing." 

In other words, I have given myself permission to finish the damn book. My A‑type brain accepts that permission and I keep writing. This method is similar to a "to‑do" list. I am a big fan of lists and love to check things off. My Anote@ method fills that organizational need in me and gives me the peace of mind that I won't overlook essential details.

Eventually you might not even need to make notes in the manuscript. I've found over the years, I don't need the crutch of a NOTE in the stream of text any longer. I've trained myself to see the big picture. I unconsciously recognize I can fix the details in the next draft. With several established series to my credit, I now have my series notebooks with world details created in previous books which I can use as I write a new story. This also helps a bunch to alleviate getting hung up on small details.   

By the way, when I say make reminder notes in the stream of text as I write, I don't mean use Track Changes. In my head, Track Changes is strictly for final editing with my publisher. In fact, I write in Word Perfect so I won't even think of using Track Changes during a draft (plus Word Perfect has Reveal Codes which I love and adore and am addicted to).

Sounds too easy, doesn't it? But this simple method is how I conquered getting hung up on the small stuff while writing. Obviously, it has worked for me since I have a bunch of books B long books B out there. Maybe it will work for you.

Monette Draper Bio:
I write as Monette Michaels and Rae Morgan. Published since the late 1990s, I currently am published with Liquid Silver Books where my Security Specialists International series (Eye of the Storm and Cold Day in Hell) and Prime Chronicles books (Prime Obsession and Prime Selection) are top sellers.

As Rae Morgan, I write the Coven of the Wolf Series ( Destiny’s Magick,  Moon Magick, Treading the Labyrinth, and a novella “No Secrets,” in Zodiac Elements: Water) and various other single titles.

For the first years of Liquid Silver Books, I was the Acquisitions Editor and also edited books. I am currently a Senior Editor emeritus, and do still read and edit for the main lines of LSB, as needed.


Find out more about the author:


I hope you will join my class titled
Hosted by
Fantasy-Futuristic & Paranormal Romance Writers
This Two Week class starts September 9, 2013
For more information click HERE

Thursday, August 8, 2013

How to make readers fall in love with your paranormal characters

by Tina Gerow 

Everyone who reads paranormal loves all the non human characters.  After all, vamps, shifters and all the rest are characters who draw us in and keep us there.  But they aren’t just humans with fangs or fur.  If their ‘species’ isn’t an integral part of their character, your reader will not suspend disbelief long enough to fall in love with them. 
One of the best ways to do this is to use all five senses in “building” the rules of your characters etc.  
Let’s start with using the five senses.  I can see the puzzled expressions now.  But Tina, how the heck do I use the five senses to build paranormal characters??  Well, it’s not as hard as you think, and it’s a lot more fun than it sounds!
Do things taste different to them because of what they are? How does blood taste to a vamp or flesh to a werewolf?  Does your succubus not eat chocolate because since she was “turned” it now tastes like rotten fish?  Does your Elvin character have a weakness for Orange Crush but now that he’s passed puberty, the only thing that tastes like his favorite drink is anti-freeze, but that gives him heartburn?  This fun, quirky stuff will make for interesting scenes and interactions with other characters as well as make these characters more distinctive and fun for readers to remember! 

Describe how it feels for fur to sprout all over your body when you shift – maybe it tuckles?  Or makes them itch?.  Or how it feels for Gargoyles to change from stone to flesh and back again – a cold rush over the skin like in my Maiden series?  Or just a heavy heat or even a ripping, burning pain?  When a ghost appears or disappears does it make a sound?  Leave a certain smell in the air?  What do a dragon’s scales feel like?  How about an Incubus’ hair – maybe it looks really soft and smells like vanilla but feels slimy when you touch it?
Describe all of these vividly so the reader can imagine BEING THERE!  What senses you use and how you use them are up to you, but let the reader in on it so they can experience everything with your characters!  Readers love to be IN on stuff!!  I know I do when I’m reading!
That’s really the secret!  If your reader feels like THEY are getting to actually live the story along with your characters or even live your story AS your characters they will be so sucked into the your world you created that they will want to visit time and time again!
Now get out there and write some amazing FF&P books because I’m running low and want to read them all!!
More About Tina Gerow

Tina Gerow is a multi published, award winning author under two pen names who is basically a slacker ex band director with an outgoing personality and an overactive imagination that she’s put to work as a writer for the safety of herself and others :)

You can visit me at www.tinagerow.com (OR www.cassieryan.com for some extra steam)  and on Facebook as Tina Gerow   and on Twitter with user name @tinagerow.

I hope you will join my class titled
Hosted by
Fantasy-Futuristic & Paranormal Romance Writers This One Week class starts August 19, 2013 
For more information click HERE 





Monday, August 5, 2013

Blog, Blog, Blog, Blog, Blog, and Blog Some More

By Terry Spear

Do you blog? Why?
This is just like creating your stories. Why do your characters do the things they do?
You have to have a good reason—a goal—for blogging. Just like you should have a good reason for anything you do.
Here are some reasons for blogging, good or otherwise:
  1. To promote your book
  2. To share something of your life with your readers
  3. To get stuff off your chest
  4. Have nothing better to do
  5. Like to write
  6. Easier than writing the book
  7. Addicted to blogging
  8. Hate to do it, but know editors and agents are looking to see how well you socially network
  9. To help others, ie-writing/cooking/cleaning/tips blog
  10. Rarely blog, but have one to say you have one—you know, like you have a blog addy, twitter addy, FB addy, website addy, etc.
Yes, some of these are not the best reasons to blog: Easier than writing the book is probably the worst! If we intend to be published or have more books published, we need to focus on the book.
Some at face value might sound like bad choices, such as: getting stuff off your chest. Sure you don't want to write about how your boss was so mean to you, or all about your divorce proceedings, or how your neighbor sued you for your dog chewing up his rubber duckie in the backyard wading pool.
But some blogs are fine—like I talked about the frustration of web browsers and why can't they all work for everything? I know there are techies out there who can give us a good reason, but the average person just knows that it doesn't work and how annoying it can be. Case in point, I can't use Blogger on Google Chrome, but I can use Firefox. I couldn't sign into my electric company's account with Firefox, I had to sign in using Google Chrome. I can't register for RWA Nationals on one of them. And I can't update my web page on two of them. And, no matter how many times I have this trouble, I never think of it before I'm ready to pull my hair out.
With a post like this, readers and writers alike can relate.
Which brings me to another point. If you gear your blogs to a self-help site, that's great. But if you're a writer/author, you might want to focus more on readers. Yes, writers are readers, which is why we want to make it general enough that everyone will be happy.
When I've written writer-specific posts, my readers let me know they're not writers. They feel left out. So I stick to general posts.
I write daily. I copy and post to another blog which has another distribution. I share the links on FB, Linked-In, Twitter, Google + and Pinterest (the picture on the blog, but it links to my blog post).
Why do I write daily?
  1. I'm goal oriented. It's my daily thing to accomplish first thing each morning.
  2. It jumpstarts my writing process like a writing prompt before I get starting on my novel writing or editing.
  3. It allows me to share stuff with readers. I don't think I have that many readers because I don't get that many comments, but occasionally, when the mood hits them, or I touch on a topic that they can really relate to, they comment. Recently, I was sharing what a mess my living room is with trying to paint it and we had fun sharing cleaning up when visitors come.
  4. I help to jumpstart some readers' days for them. Some readers say they like to pop in on a daily basis to see what I have to say before they start their day. Now how cool is that?
  5. I've had fans check my weather to see if I'm under severe thunderstorms if I'm not able to post, figuring I'm without satellite again. Who would ever have thought?
  6. I can share when a new book is out, audio book version, review copies, new cover is up.
  7. I share my voice with my readers in my blogs—like when I had commenters say they were laughing out loud when they read my post about how I was trying to upload a file to Createspace to create a print book and it kept telling me: You need Highspeed Internet. And then the commenters apologized for laughing but said it was just too funny. I meant it to be. It WAS funny. And that's my voice. In my blogs and in my books.
  8. I love connecting with readers. I post a link on FB and connect with my fans there. It's a daily shout out to wave and say, "Good morning!" I share a picture and a blog link and a question or comment.
  9. I enjoy blogging. It's not something I have to do, that I feel made to do. I have a really busy schedule with a blog tour coming up and 30 guest posts to write, another conference, edits, and deadlines on new books. But I still love to do it.
  10. Blogging allows me to leave my writer's world and connect with the rest of the world for a brief moment in time.
The best reason for blogging is that you love doing it. You don't have to do it. There are all kinds of other ways to reach out to readers and writers.
That said, I've had 1100-1400 visitors on my one blog per day the last couple of weeks. I blog daily there. I have NO comments. If you have regular readers, they give up on you if you go for a time and don't bother blogging. You want to consistently blog. It really helps to get consistent readers.
Be sure to have a catchy Title. Just like a news article that screams sensationalism, you want something that helps you to catch the reader's attention. And of course, relates to what you're writing about.
Hey, and if you've written a GREAT blog and no one came to the site that day, you can always recycle it. No one will ever be the wiser. :)
So blog to your heart's content. Or not. It's truly up to you.But if so, Happy Blogging!
Terry Spear

She's being pursued by everyone, in more ways than one.
Even in an exotic world of humans, jaguars, and tantalizing creatures who shift between the two, Maya Anderson stands out from the crowd. Interest from human suitors is bad enough, but when male shifters give chase, the real trouble starts.
Who's the hunter and who's the prey?

Investigating the black marketing trade of exotic animals keeps Wade Patterson more than busy. When he and Maya both get entangled in a steamy jungle mission, it becomes impossible to tell who is being hunted or who the hunters are. Wade is desperate to survive this deadly game of cat and mouse. But it's Maya's piercing eyes that keep him awake at night.  


USA Today bestselling author Terry Spear has written over fifty paranormal romance novels and medieval Highland historical romances. In 2008 Heart of the Wolf was named a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year. A retired officer of the U.S. Army Reserves, Terry also creates award-winning teddy bears that have found homes all over the world. She lives in Crawford, Texas. For more information, please visit www.TerrySpear.com, follow her on Twitter, @TerrySpear, and like her on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/terry.spear.