Posted in Blood Feud, Emperors of Ethia, Michael Knost, novel, publication, published, publishing, the writing journey, writing

Blood Feud Cover Reveal!

I’ve been talking about it for awhile off and on, and the day finally arrived when my awesome newly published book showed up on my doorstep. Imagine my excitement as I opened up the box and held my very first published book in my hands! Then I immediately imagined doing the same with all the other books to come (I’m working on two books right now in fact). Finally after years of hard work, I have something very physical to hold in my hands!

I knew this day would be coming. So over the past few months, I made many book release plans and even came up with some release dates, but in the publishing world release dates can be a tricky thing. Ultimately, I opted for short, sweet, and simple by doing a cover reveal post and another post when the book is up on Amazon. Another reason for this simplicity is I have been and still am heavily preoccupied by our family’s upcoming move to Florida.

In fact, I still can’t give a exact release date so people can start buying the book because I am going to Florida very early this coming Tuesday and will be in Florida for ten days looking for our new home! I am in the process of working with Create Space to get it up and available on Amazon, but I’m not sure if it will be done before I go. I’m not taking my laptop on this Florida trip because it’s supposed to be a little bit of a getaway for me too (hitting two birds with one stone, three if you count spending time with my husband who’s already been in Florida the last six weeks working his new job).

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Posted in beginning writer, better writing, Blood Feud, book publishers, Bookerfly Press, editing, Emperors of Ethia, first publication, great writing, how to write, learning to write, lots of writing, Michael Knost, novel, novel writing, publication, publishing, the writing journey, the writing process, writing, writing discipline, writing progress

Taking the Plunge to Self-Publish

It has been a long road since I started writing my novel Blood Feud. The journey began in April of 2012. I remember it well — a month of straight writing where the ideas just flowed like water. They pooled onto the page with little effort as months of thinking about my story and characters finally found a permanent place on the page. My story flourished but my poor family suffered from neglect. So at the end of the month and about 50,000 words later, I took a break. A few weeks later I came back to my marvelous work of art to realize everything I had written was total crap. And that pretty much sums up the next four years. Awesome spurts of writing where words flowed and family suffered just to end up with… yep you guessed it, more crap.

That my friends is the way of the writer as I am sure some of you are quite familiar with.

But something happened in my fifth year of writing. During my sixtieth (and really that’s not much of an exaggeration) rewrite of Blood Feud, the crap fell away and a good story finally started to form. At least to the point where I felt confident enough to send my work to a professional author, editor, and friend (Michael Knost) so he could tell me it was crap too. And to my surprise, he said it was a pretty awesome story.

Crap, what do I do now?

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Posted in book review, books, how to write, learning to write, Michael Knost, nonfiction

Book Review: Writers Workshop of Science Fiction and Fantasy

writers workshop I ordered Writer’s Workshop of Science Fiction and Fantasy when it first came out earlier this year, knowing it would be great because of it’s predecessor Writers Workshop of Horror. Both of these books should be on all aspiring writers bookshelves, as they give wonderful insights on all sorts of writing areas.

The best part about Writer Workshop of Science Fiction and Fantasy is that you don’t have to be a writer of science fiction or fantasy to get something useful out of the book. Most of the topics touch on areas that span all genres of story telling. Just some of the topics covered in this book are;  Beginnings, Middles, Endings, Unbending Gender, Tactics of World building, and Rhetoric and Style.

Editor Michael Knost has brought exceptional authors together to tell how they do it right. It’s then up to the reader to decide what works best for them as they read and apply the techniques to their own writing.

Posted in book review, books, how to write, learning to write, Michael Knost, nonfiction

Book Review: Writers Workshop of Horror

workshop horror Writers Workshop of Horror is a fabulous book complied by editor Michael Knost who brings authors together to talk about what works for them in certain areas of the writing craft. Authors like Tom Piccirilli, Johnathan Maberry, Tim Waggoner, Joe R. Lansdale, and Brain Keene.

Not a horror writer? No problem. That’s the best part about the book. The topics talked about in this book work for any genre from romance to steampunk. Just a few topics discussed are; Point of View, Dialogue, Manuscript Formatting, and Ten Submission Flaws that Drive Editors Nuts.

After reading this book, I felt like I’d been apart of a whole weekend of writer workshops instead of at home reading a book about writing. Each topic has a unique and individualized approach that makes it fun to read as well as informative. This is a must have book for aspiring writers.

Posted in Blood Feud, how to write, Michael Knost, online writing classes, Other Writing Stuff, The Writer's Toolbox, writing, writing advice

The Truth About Flashbacks

This post is another result of one of Michael Knost classes. This most recent class I took was all about flashbacks (and backstory, but that’s a different post). I found a few “light bulb” moments in the class that just had to share, but this post really is only the tip of the iceberg of what I learned.

The most important thing to remember… Flashbacks should not be used unless there is absolutely no other way the story can be told. Flashbacks carry a built-in disadvantage to even the best of written stories, because it stops the story. A flashback is about something that has already happened. It’s over and done with so the flashback lacks immediacy.

There are 3 advantages to having a flashback in a story…

  • helps establish character motives
  • fills in events of how the original current story came about
  • fills in critical information that happened years earlier

If a story must hold a flashback there are 3 ways to maximize the advantages of a flashback…

  1. Time travel done right
    Every flashback should follow a strong current story scene. Flashbacks should never start a scene. Before dropping the past onto the reader, the current story must be established first; otherwise, the reader will become invested in the flashback and not care about the current story.
  2. Orient the reader at the start of the flashback in time and space
    Make sure that it is made clear that the story is moving backwards in time. Give a clear indication at the very beginning what is happening to avoid throwing the reader into confusion and frustration. There’s nothing worse than reading a story and not being able to figure out where in space and time the story is supposed to be taking place.
  3. Use verbal tense conventions to guide the reader in and out of the flashback
    Conventions through verbal tense can be used to “signal” both the start and end of a flashback. This sort of thing is subtle and may not be noticed by the conscious mind of the reader, but is very effective in guiding the reader properly in and out of flashbacks. This is the best way to help eliminate flashback confusion.

Example: Let’s say you are writing a story in pasted tense (that’s my preferred style of writing). That means the first few verbs (usually the first 5 verbs) used in the flashback should be perfect past tense (had, had been). Then switch back to pasted tense. When you are ready to end the flashback switch back to perfect past tense for another 5 or so verbs. Once back in the current story, you return to using past tense verbs.

Are you confused yet? Here’s a shortened version I made to help me keep it straight…

current story (past tense) + beginning of flashback (perfect past tense 5 verbs) + middle of flashback (paste tense) + end of flashback (perfect past tense 5 verbs) + return to current story (past tense)

What if a story is written in present tense? Then you would use past tense verbs instead of perfect past tense verbs.

Here’s an example of a switch from a present tense story to flashback from Suzanne Collin’s Hunger Games...

“We don’t speak. Our real interaction happened years ago. He’s probably already forgotten it. But I haven’t and I know I never will…
It was the worst time. My father had been killed in the mine accident three months earlier in the bitterest January anyone could remember. The numbness of his loss had passed, and the pain would hit me out of nowhere, doubling me over, racking my body with sobs. Where are you? I would cry out in my mind. Where have you gone? Of course there was never any answer.”

If flashbacks are used, it should be done sparingly. Flashbacks should never occur back to back. Strong scenes should separate each flashback scene.

There is an acceptable form of story that uses flashbacks to tell a story and that would be a “frame story”. This story can be any length (from short story to novel), which begins after all the action is over. The protagonist or author announces that they are going to tell a story and may even give out the entire outcome at the beginning of the story. Example of this type of stories are True Grit by Charles Portis and Water for Elephants Sara Gruen.

Update June 26 2019: I wrote this blog post many years ago, since then my position on flashbacks have changed. I do believe flashbacks can be used as often as a person wants within reason. I published my first book Blood Feud and it has numerous flashbacks that, in my opinion, work very well. But I spent a lot of time trying to get them right and making sure they were necessary to move the story. Sometimes in order to move forward and bring more depth to a story flashbacks can be quite useful.

It is also worth mentioning here too, that just because a writer gives you advice on how writing should be, does not mean it has to be. Use your best judgement. Every writer and every story are unique. Know what is true for you as a writer, and let the rest go. Happy Writing!