Category Archives: writing process

Where have I been? What have I been doing?

Well, life has a tendency to get in my way, and, unfortunately, the blog is the first thing that gets slighted.

I have been working quite a bit at Babies R Us and may be in line for a promotion.

I have been writing, and rewriting, and editing.

INFECTED us getting rewritten from the beginning now that I know a bit more about writing than I used to. This time it is in 1st person past. I have chapter 1 fully outlined in my new formula of writing and it should be written by Wed night.

PROPHECY is also getting a do-over, switching to past tense. Seven full chapters are completed.

A QUESTION OF CHANGE is in the researching part of writing as I learn more about zoology and a specific park that is near me. Although under a different name, Maymont Park in Richmond, VA is the setting in the novel, with some small modifications.

WHITE DARKNESS also known by the name RAFTER MONSTER is still in the brain storming stage.

June 1st begins the Speculative Fiction Marathon where INFECTED and PROPHECY will be undergoing critiques. For 12 weeks, one chapter a week will be critiqued by other spec-fic members. It is a thrilling and exhausting time.

I am also a contributing blogger for dragons and aliens and wraiths oh my a blog for speculative fiction authors, by speculative fiction authors. My first post is live.

After Marathon I will be publishing serials from authors I know. A chapter a week is the goal right now. Hopefully my fellow spec-fic members come through like they said they would! Thanks for already having segments done TJ!

So I will be better on letting you guys know where everything stands in the future. At least things are getting back under control.





Filed under Agent Query Connect, author, crazy, crit, critique, critiquing, story, thinking process, work in progress, writing process

How to Beat Writer’s Block

Due to crazy holiday work schedules, this Monday post is coming out on Thursday. So be it.

I get it, you get it, every great writer gets it too: The dreaded WRITER’S BLOCK.

There are times in a WIP when you sit back and say to yourself “What happens next?” and you come up blank.

No ideas flow, the well of creativity is dry.

Great, now what?

There a few, somewhat well-known tricks that can help you get through this.

First let’s go through the types of writer’s blocks.

1) The “I don’t know where this is going” block — Okay, this one used to happen to me all the time when I was writing. I’d get to a point where every word was pulling my hair out. Sitting there, looking at a blank page, with my mind as blank, waiting for something to come.

This is a simple (mind you, simple, not easy) solution. It usually means you have lost your way in the story. Time to go back a bit and see what the problem is so you can fix it. Often you have just lost a small thread of the plot. It happens. Just fix it up and change your more recent writing to reflect that. Remember you have a million words of crap in you, this is a way to get some of them out.

2) The “I don’t want to write” block —

This can be a hard one to overcome. Think about why you write, what you want your work to say about you, then write it. Sometimes I do think like a *shudder* synopsis, just not a formal. I make a sort of book report on my story, telling about the beginning, the middle, and the end. This can help you find your way, once again.

The other way to deal with this is to write free-form. Just write, write badly if you have to. It’s okay, I give you permission. Get some of those crap words out of your head.

3) The “My story is crap” block —

Forget it, just keep going. You don’t have to get it right the first time, so write some filler you can edit out later.

OR start at another place in the WIP, something that excites you. You may find your passion for writing returning.

These are just a few types, there are as many as there are writers. The real key is to never give up, never stop writing, Take a break, sure but don’t stop.


Enter my Flash Fiction Contest . I have decided to give prizes in multiple genres if I get enough entries. You can submit more than one story. Your friends can submit as well. In fact, TELL EVERYONE! Make me eat my words that I want this to be big!




Filed under award, contest, flash fiction, thinking process, Writer, writer's block, writing, writing process

Who is the good guy, again? About protagonists

Okay, so I a, going through and relaying some things I have learned in my sabbatical from blog posting. And, boy, do I have a lot to go over! So we should really get started.

And what better place to start than with the protagonist?

I write paranormal works. No, I don’t do vampires. Or were-creatures. Or witches. Or anything you have seen before.

I created my own paranormal creature, and it was great. However, the key to the story is not really the creature or other antagonist. At least, not yet. You have to create a hero, or at least a protagonist.

What kind of protagonists are there? Well there are lots, but here are a few that cover the majority of them.

1) The average man (or woman) – This the guy or girl next door. Unfortunately for them (but great for us!) they have to deal with some sort of antagonist. In my case, a paranormal element. One thing: they get no powers to deal with it. They must rely on their wits, their smarts, and their courage. None of these characteristics are in abundance. Just the normal allotment. Somehow, they make do.

2) The reluctant one – “Supernatural? Problem? Craziness going on” i don’t deal with that stuff.” Uh oh. The protagonist doesn’t want to co-operate. They want nothing to do with the story. Well not until someone or something changes their mind. Then, well, maybe just this once they will get involved…

3) The hunter or the warrior –  This person fights the paranormal, or daily problem ALL THE TIME!  They are always willing to jump into the action and take charge. Think Xena: Warrior Princess. (a guilty pleasure to be sure!)

4) The newbie – “I don’t believe in this crap What? I have powers? Yikes!” This character usually starts out as an every-man, but quickly develops some sort of power needed to take charge and vanquish the enemy, whatever it may be. He knows just about nothing at the beginning and may be either slow or fast at learning, but learn he does.

5) The Super – This is someone born with or given great powers. They must learn how to use them, but they must defeat the antagonist before mastery. Think Harry Potter.

6) The experienced one – This is a character directly opposed to the newbie. She knows a lot about the world and has some power of her own. She is just looking for a fight. Van Helsing is a good example. (the character!)

Well, that about does it. Do you know any more? Go ahead and put them in the comments! I welcome them all.



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Filed under character traits, paranormal, writing, writing novels, writing process

Pillars of Writing

Okay, so today I want to talk about what makes a good novel, especially a thriller novel.

To begin with, it would help to define what a thriller novel can be.

A Thriller is a moral tale. Yep, you heard me right, a moral tale. Despite the negativity that is often applied to such a term, a moral tale is not a bad thing. The moral does not have to beat you over the head like the last 15 minutes of Happy Feet. It can be far more subtle than that. A good morality story teaches you about morals without you even being aware of it at the time. Let me give you an example. Who here hasn’t read a Harry Potter book? Okay, so most everyone has. Think about it for a minute. All the Harry Potter books urge people to follow in Harry’s (and Hermione’s and Ron’s and Dumbledore’s) footsteps by standing up for what is right and good. Yes, it is a morality tale. And a damn fine one at that. Did you even realize you were getting a message when you read it? I didn’t.

Okay, so a thriller is a moral tale. Great. Now, what kind of books can be thrillers? Well mysteries, horrors, paranormals, science fiction, fantasy. All of these can be counted under the thriller definition I am using here. The most important thing is that it is a moral tale, that’s it.

Now, on to the pillars. (I am using the term pillars because it is the term James N. Frey uses in his How to Write a Damn Good….  series. I recommend How to Write a Damn Good Thriller to anyone writing in a genre listed above.

All of these Pillars help to make a cohesive novel that is interesting and even fun to read. Remember you don’t want to hit people over the head with morality though. This is not Happy Feet. (Yes, i keep using that example, mainly because I loved the movie until the last 15 minutes, where it irritated me, a proud conservationist. if you haven’t seen it, I suggest you just skip over the end when it gets really preachy.)

Okay, without anymore ado, The Pillars.

1.) High Stakes– This is important, though the definition of high stakes can differ. It does not have to be the life and death of all humanity to be high stakes (though it can be). It could just as easily be the survival of a child, the savior of an immortal soul, or something else that is important. In all this is a pretty straight forward pillar. Don’t think about it too hard.

2.) Unity of Opposites– Okay, this sounds complex. It  isn’t. Of course, neither is novel-writing. Hard, definitely, but not complex. Unity of opposites, with everything else stripped away, is basically the reason your hero can’t just pick up and leave. That’s it. What is keeping your hero from saying, “The heck with it!” and getting out of Dodge? it can be morality, or even physically being stuck somewhere. Just make sure the reader isn’t asking why he doesn’t just leave.

3.) Seemingly Impossible Odds– The hero may not make it against the odds, and definitely for a period of time the reader doesn’t think he can. Usually, however, the hero does eventually overcome the odds. Usually, not always.

4.) Moral Struggle– Easy enough. There is a good side and a bad side. Your hero is on the good side. Think Luke Skywalker in Star Wars. The movies would have been completely different if told from Darth Vader’s point of view. (Notice I said Vader, not Anakin).

5.) Ticking Clock– There has to be a deadline for the hero’s actions. This is über important for the thriller to have a sense of urgency. I mean if there is no deadline, there is no reason for the hero to try to solve the problem and defeat the villain.

6.) Menace– Simply put, your hero and other sympathetic characters are in danger through most of the story.

7.) Thriller-type Characters– Your characters, hero and villain alike, must be clever and resourceful as well as larger than life. Think about Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker again. Although both are believable characters (in the Star Wars universe) they are both bigger than life, and incredibly clever. Same with Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort (yes, I said his name).

Incorporating all these Pillars into your novel will make it stronger and a far more interesting read. If you leave even one out, you run the risk of losing your readers, and we all know that is not a good thing.

Remember a thriller can be just about any type of novel, not just a murder-mystery or a zombie book.

Good luck, good writing!



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Filed under author, character traits, characters, conflict, feeling, growing, ideas, learning, novel, paranormal, rules, story, thinking process, Thriller, voice, Writer, writing, Writing a Paranormal Novel, writing novels, writing process

Character Journals

… and we’re back!

Okay, so I have been reading quite a bit recently about writing books. I know I mentioned in an earlier post how a writer should always keep learning and that books on the craft are a great way to do so.

Well here is one of the best ideas I have learned.

Sounds crazy. Well maybe not to you, but it did to me.

Write a journal entry for each of your major characters.

Crazy right? Actually, no.

A lot of authors get discouraged at their inability to find an agent or a publisher (if they are going the direct to publish route). They have no idea why their book(s) fail to engage someone else.

Has this happened to you? Don’t despair. I may have the reason right here, and if not in this post hopefully in one of the ones coming up in this series.

Many, many, many times, a writer makes their characters (especially their antagonist) too one-dimensional.

Makes sense if you think about it, though. I mean, the bad guy is supposed to be really bad, right?

Well yes, and no.

Agents and readers want an antagonist who is bad/evil/manipulative/etc, but he/she/it has to also be well-rounded. In other words, the character needs to live and breathe, have flesh.

Yikes! How?

The journal. It has helped me get deeper into my characters’ heads than anything else.

For instance, my bad guy is pretty bad. He wants to do a blood sacrifice on a child. He is evil, manipulative, larger than life.

He also had a very messed up life before the thing which changed him into a thing. (that is as specific as I am going with that, so deal with it!) 🙂

I had no idea before I wrote his journal that he had a wife who killed herself after their daughter died, or that he was blamed for a number of things out of his control, or that the reason he went to the place that changed him was to get spiritual guidance to take back with him to his people.

Wow. I really didn’t know my antagonist at all!

The journal helps.

One thing that I do is to use a different font for each character. I go through Microsoft’s fonts in Word and find the one that looks like the character’s writing. Then I just write away (*grin*) in that character’s perspective about his or her life up until the moment the story takes place. I suppose you could do it for the whole story too, but that is enough for me to know my character and understand what motivates him.

Will you put this journal in your story? No.

Will you use everything you learned about your character in the story (i.e. that his wife died)? probably not.

This is a tool for you, as the writer, to get to know your characters. Afterward you can see how they would react to certain situations because you know their deeper motivations.

So, what are you waiting for? Write those journals!




Filed under author, character traits, characters, conflict, crazy, editing, feeling, growing, ideas, learning, novel, paranormal, story, thinking process, voice, Writer, writing, Writing a Paranormal Novel, writing novels, writing process

Interview with Kate Gifford

 well here is an interview with Kate Gifford, a very gifted romance writer, and sweet friend.

1)   What genre(s) do you write? And why?

  Romance, romantic suspense.  I write romance because it always has a happy ending.  I write romantic suspense because the suspense aspect gives more dimension to a story.

2)   Tell us about your latest project. This is your chance to crow about being published, agented, or winning a contest.

My completed novel is a romantic suspense.  I am in the process of shopping it around. I am unagented. I have any many feature articles published in local newspapers.  My current work in progress is a straight romance with no suspense element.  


3)   Other than writing, how do you like to spend your time?

  Other than writing, I read at east three novels a week.  I no longer work outside the home.  I am a wife, a mother and grandmother.  I am a homemaker, babysitter and errand runner.  I enjoy my family, friends, reading, dinner theater and comedies.


4)   Do you have any tattoo’s, if so where? If not, do you want any?

I don’t have a single tatoo anywhere and I don’t want any.


5)   What is the last book you read? Did you like it?

The last book I read was a romantic comedy and I did enjoy it.


6)   What is your advice to those who want to be authors? (I know, it’s a crummy one, but needs to be asked)

Write the kind of stories you like to read.  Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t or shouldn’t write.  Write something every day, even if it’s just that you wish you had more time for writing – because time has a way of getting away from us, and pretty soon that one day you skipped writing becomes the hundredth day you skipped writing.  The longer you go without writing, the harder it is get back into it.  Read, read, read!  Hang out with other people who enjoy writing, whether in person or on-line.  Learn all you can about your craft.  Realize you are never done learning.


7) Tell us one thing no one knows about you.

  I wish I were  the woman I know to be.  

Well dear friends, here you have it. Kate Gifford!

Just to let you know, the clean up from Irene  continues around here, but at least we have power!




Filed under Agent Query Connect, author, characters, feeling, ideas, interview, love, novel, romance writer, voice, Writer, writing, writing novels, writing process

Interview With Kacey Vanderkarr @kacimari

This Friday we have the fabulous Kacey Vanderkarr….a fabulous writer and a beautiful person all the way through. Take it away kaci!!

1)   What genre(s) do you write? And why?

 I write YA.  I can’t imagine a more interesting or dynamic period in someone’s life than the teenage years.  It’s fun as an adult to put yourself in their shoes and then pull all the strings.  With YA, it’s all about the drama.  Relationships, emotions, and hormones are all elevated.  It’s acceptable to go on murderous rages, to scream, kick and fight.  You can love with your whole heart and hurt with your entire being. The beauty is in the intensity of it all. Let the crazy begin!


2)   Tell us about your latest project. This is your chance to crow about being published, agented, or winning a contest.

 My latest project is also technically my first.  I’ve written a series of four books without looking back or doing much editing.  When I got to the end and realized that I wanted to get them published, reality hit—hard.  I’ve spent the last few months trimming my first manuscript, Stepping Stones, a YA Fantasy Romance, from 125,000 words to 80,000.  I expect to start querying by the end of August, if everything goes as planned.  Of course, nothing ever does, but I’m hopeful!


3)   Other than writing, how do you like to spend your time?

 I pretty much live four lives at any given time.  First off, I’m a mother and wife.  My husband actually complains about the amount of time I spend writing.  It’s a good thing he’s not in my head—because he’d really hate how much I think about it!  Aside from that, I coach a winterguard team at my local high school.  From October to April, I immerse myself in teenage drama.  It’s awesome!  I love coaching.  It really gives you the opportunity to change someone’s life.  My third life is Ultrasound.  I work at a hospital in the Diagnostic Imaging Department.  I know that most people think that ultrasound is just for pregnant women, but that’s not the case.  We pretty much do it all—abdomens, thyroids, veins, arteries, testicles…well, you get the picture.  My fourth life is my writing—enough said.


 4)   Do you have any tattoo’s, if so where? If not, do you want any?

 I have five tattoos with detailed plans for a sixth.  I have the Pure Romance heart on my foot.  Yes, that’s right.  I used to sell sex toys.  It was one of the most exciting jobs I’ve ever had, not to mention the most fun.  I have a nautical star on each hip.  On my back I have a star with a tribal design.  On my left shoulder I have a matching cat tattoo with my sister.  My plans for the sixth are pretty intense.  It’s going to be a naked tree with visible roots.  Skeleton keys will hang from the branches.  It will also have a crow or a raven sitting in it.  Above the tree will be stars, below it will be the quote “Without the dark we’d never see the stars.”  Kudos if you know where the quote comes from. 

 5)   What is the last book you read? Did you like it?

 The last book I read was Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger.  I enjoyed it to an extent, but overall was disappointed.  I absolutely loved The Time Traveler’s Wife, so I expected it to capture me just as much.  However, after 300 pages of waiting for something to happen, it didn’t.  The book did have a lot of creepiness, intricate characters, and some not to subtle maliciousness.  Long story short, I probably won’t read it again.

 6)   What is your advice to those who want to be authors? (I know, it’s a crummy one, but needs to be asked)

 Get as much information as possible BEFORE you start writing.  Sadly, in the end, writing is the easy part.  The editing, the late nights spent crying over cut scenes, and the harsh critiques are NOT the easy part.  Find a support network.  Meet new people and use their advice.  We are all human and we all react differently to things.  There is a wealth of knowledge, information, and opinions in others.  Use it!  Also, believe in yourself.  A lot of people are going to cut your work down and say things you don’t like.  But if you have a story to tell, you have a right to not listen!  You are your best advocate and worst enemy.  Trust yourself.

 7)   Tell us one thing no one knows about you

 I have a teddy bear.  I’ve had him for 24 years.  I can’t part with him.  I keep telling my husband that I’d settle for a small pillow, but it hasn’t happened yet.  Gah!  I can’t believe I’m telling this to the world.  At least it’s not a crack addiction. 🙂

 Follow me on Twitter:!/kacimari


 Like me on Facebook:!/pages/Kacey-Vanderkarr/128956043852072

Isn’t it great to know more abot your favorite people?

OKay guys, I don’t know how next week is going to go, we are expecting a lot of downed power lines in the area this weekend from Hurricane Irene. I will try and keep up the blog, but without power it will be difficult!




Filed under Agent Query Connect, author, characters, crazy, feeling, growing, ideas, inspiration, interview, learning, novel, Writer, writing, writing novels, writing process