Monday, November 30, 2009

Why Bother Blogging?

Blogging is the new way to reach out to readers about your books, contests and news. It builds credibility and creates a readership devoted enough to return again and again. Sure you may never gain movie star status, but you’ll find people who enjoy your writing and have a positive association with you.

Your goal when creating a blog should attract the audience who will be interested in your books. The information listed on your blog will give the reader a chance to experience your writing style. Allowing the reader to make comments on your site is also a benefit. It gives the reader a chance to know you and actually have a conversation. It’s a way of introducing yourself with the willingness to be a friend. They can ask questions and know they will receive an answer. Write about what makes you an author and topics pertaining to your books. You also want to keep your blog fresh and updated. Be passionate about your topic and readers will return to see what you have to say next week. Let the readers see the personal side of you.

Blogging is also free advertising. Search engines will pick up on your blog when a person looks for similar interests posted on your site.

The business of being an author isn’t just having your brilliant story in e-book and in print. You must promote your work. If no one knows who you are, how do you expect a reader to find your book? You don’t have to be a public speaker to have your own blog. I personally don’t like public speaking. A blog gives me another option to talk to readers without feeling pressured.

How do you set up a site? You don’t have to be a computer guru to have your own blog site. There are many blogging sites with step by step information to help you along. I set up my blog with Blogger and use Google with RSS feeds. The RSS feeds are like long arms reaching out to your target audience. The search engines love blogs and RSS feeds because they offer feedback.

Now that you have your blog, here are a few other ways you can promote your Blogging Site. Include your URL address in your signature file and send it out with each of your emails. Add it to your business cards, bookmarkers and promotional material. Let your yahoo groups know you have a blog and list the new topic for the week. I'm not sure leaving your blog URL on asphalt is the best idea, but the person has the right idea. Promote, promote promote. :)

What’s your next topic going to be?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Well, hmm... Tips and Tricks for Writing...

Hi, all! I’m Brenda Huber, author of Mine and Shadows, both titles coming soon to the Black Rose Line of The Wild Rose Press, and Texas Blaze, coming soon to the Cactus Rose line. I’m sure everyone has some bit of advice, some little quirk or routine they follow religiously. A method to the madness, if you will. Different trips and ticks…excuse me, tips and tricks work for different writers. Obviously I can’t touch on every trick I use while writing, or let’s face it…Lill and Callie would ban me from the site. So please, bear with me while I ruminate on the tips that get me over the bumps. Hopefully somewhere in my ramblings you’ll find something useful to help with your own writing. Where to start?

How about we focus on a basic building block? I’m sure we’ve all heard the time honored phrase, A rose by any other name… But what’s really in a name?

The answer…more than you may realize. The name you choose for your characters (particularly your primary characters) helps define them every bit as much as a physical description, or an individual quirk or catch phrase your character prefers to use. For example, picture this… You’re browsing through your favorite book store/library and you come across this fabulous cover. A terrific title, a gorgeous man, a sensual woman, an exotic locale. Hmm… This might be an interesting read, you think. The back cover blurb has just enough detail, just enough hook to convince you that this would be the perfect book to take home and dive into. So you check out/buy the book and take it home in anticipation of losing yourself in a darkly sensual paranormal romance/an edge-of-your-seat romantic suspense…or whatever fascinates you. You eagerly open a cover promising a sublime setting and passion that will all but boil off the page…until you realize the hero’s name is…Lester. And the heroine’s name is Bessie. And the antagonist’s name…Bob. And you’re instantly pulled out of the story before you’ve even begun to drift away.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Those names are all perfectly nice names. No insult intended for all you Lester's, Bessie's, and Bob's out there. But, let’s face it, we all…every last one of us…have some version of a preconceived description that goes along with most every name. Now, I realize that everyone has his or her own “built in” picture to go with each name, and I also realize that as a writer, you’ve done your very best to feed bits of the characters description to the reader, but (as a reader myself) I often find my own preconceived picture taking precedence, regardless of how thoroughly the writer has described his or her hero/heroine/villian.

For example, when I see the name Lester, I picture a short, middle-aged man in brown polyester slacks and a tan cardigan, with thick rimmed glasses, a pocket-protector, and a receding hairline. Hardly the chiseled, testosterone-laden alpha male who charges in and sweeps his heroine off her feet. Now give me a Cole, or a Garrett, or an Ethan and I’m jumping, head first, into the story.

Likewise, nothing pulls me out of a story faster than if I have to stop and spent ten minutes guessing at how to pronounce a lead characters name. Not that the name has to be particularly long or exotic to be difficult to pronounce. I recently read a book by a very popular author. The story was great…except every time I saw the heroine’s name I found myself taking a mental step back as I consciously made the effort to connect the odd spelling with the way the name was supposed to sound. In the end, for me at least, I found that because the name was so distracting, the story lost something in the translation. Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t strive for individuality in your characters—and a unique name definitely stands out—but that name also helps to define the character. The name gives flesh to the character every bit as much as telling your reader he has blue eyes, or red hair, etc.

At this point, I’m going to send a special nod of appreciation to my wonderful editor, Joelle, who also gave me a very helpful tip when it comes to names in your writing. Be particularly careful as you’re naming your secondary characters as well. It can be confusing to the reader if you have several names that sound the same, ie: Cam, Carla, Chloe, Tom, Tim, Jim, Terry, Sherry. The reader finds himself/herself thinking…was it Chloe that worked at the diner, or was it Carla? Did Terry lose her bracelet, or was it Sherry?

So, I believe that about covers what I can offer as far as naming your characters. And, at the risk of rambling too much, I’d like to offer one last tip. Flesh out your secondary characters. Give them personality and an unique identity of their own…because you never know when the right one might just pop up and demand a book of his/her own!

Warmest Wishes for productive writing, and I hope you'll come visit me on the Darker Side of Romance!

Brenda Huber

coming soon to the Black Rose Line:




and coming soon to the Cactus Rose Line:

Texas Blaze

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Writing Tips and Tricks: A notebook

For writing in general, one trick I use is to keep a notebook handy - a small one that I can slip into a purse or a pocket. I never know when something around me will be useful for a work-in-progress or future book. It's good writing to use the senses to place your reader right inside your book, so the way the sky purples right before the sun dips below the horizon, the salty-sweet smell of rice krispies treats baking that zaps me back to childhood, the essence of steam rising off skin that comes right before a state of arousal explodes or how a dew-soaked dawn sounds, bird song and squirrel chatter. You never know when an idea will hit, so it is good to keep this notebook close. I regret it when a line of dialogue hits me when I'm on the freeway and I can't pull over to write it down. Some writers keep tape recorders in their cars for this purpose, but even reaching over to switch on a tape or MP3 recorder feels a bit risky to me.

I'm a new author and quite inexperienced at blogging, so please bear with me!

Carolina Montague
Sacred Guardian, July 2010

Friday, November 27, 2009

Understanding Passive Writing

When I sent in my first manuscript to an editor at Wild Rose Press, I was sent a very nice email and several editing notes. One instruction that became a common theme was the sentence, “Try not to write passively.”

Passive? Really? How could I write passively? I know I felt everything in the story and I was certain that it was being actively portrayed. I mean, the characters were moving forward, weren’t they.

Unfortunately, while there were many areas that I owned what I wrote, there were just as many, if not more that I didn’t. I suddenly found myself reading my work, the voice chanting in my head, “Passive, passive, passive, no not passive, we don’t want passive.”

I followed the thread of thought and flipped open The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr and E.B. White – a recommended must for any author’s bookshelf. Ahh, there it was on page 18. I had the secret to writing with an active voice.

Unfortunately, a read through of page 18 didn’t illuminate everything. What words were passive? Why were they passive? Of course, I worked through the edits, handed them over to others to read and prayed that I had overcome my passive writing. The advice given confused me even more and I found myself completely unsure of what passive writing really was.

It is a question that many writers have heard. We all know the warnings and while passive writing is okay in some instances, many new writers – myself included – overuse passive writing and it takes away from the story.

So when I was asked to write a post for this month, the first thing that sprang to mind was passive writing and giving a few tips on how to avoid a passive voice.

Tip Number One: Understand what passive is

Passive writing is not committing to the story, the action and at times the character. It is writing that takes the life and excitement out of the words and creates a paragraph that is filled with showing, not telling.

In addition, passive writing can slow down the movement in the story and even descriptive words can be rendered dull and lifeless. Generally, passive writing removes the emphasis from the action and makes it impersonal to the characters.

Tip Number Two: Find those passive words

One of the hardest points for me was finding those passive words. I found the exceptions to the rule frustrating and often wondered what I was doing wrong exactly. The best way to overcome the exceptions is to follow a general rule of thumb. If a word can be passive, then err on the side of caution and jot it down as a word that is always passive. When you edit, you can remove or add the word as you need while keeping the voice active and engaging.

The general rule is the following:

A “to be” in any form combined with a past participle will create a passive voice.

“To be” words are not always passive but they can be if they are used incorrectly.

Some examples of “to be” forms are:
  • Are
  • Am
  • Have
  • Will be
  • Being
  • Was
  • Were
  • Is

Past participle words are:
  • Awoken
  • Burnt
  • Arrested
  • Seen
  • Looked

Passive words often overused are that, which and had although they are not always passive.

Tip Number Three: Stop Telling

Telling is a problem that many authors slip into and it can be a difficult habit to break. Basically, when you are telling the story instead of showing, you avoid giving the action or feeling to the character. It becomes more about working through what is happening and the story becomes lifeless and is a direct route to a passive passage.

Tip Number Four: Question your writing

Before you send out your writing to anyone, make sure that you sit back and ask yourself some questions. This is a great way to find your passive writing and it will help you improve your skills as a writer.

The questions that you should ask are:
  • Is there an action?
  • Is there a character that belongs to the action? If not, does there need to be a character?
  • Will the sentence need to be clarified for anyone reading it other than you?
  • Do you see any “to be” words combined with a past participle?
  • Do you see any of the overused passive words?
  • Can the sentence be rewritten in a better manner?
  • Are you in the story or simply being given instructions on the progression? (showing vs. telling)

Tip Number Five: Accept the passive voice

The last tip that I would like to close with is accepting the passive voice. Unbelievably, there are a number of instances when a passive voice is accepted. This can be when you are writing a scientific paper, or report and can be seen in fictional works. Passive writing can be used to set a time line, within a narrative or if the reader’s don’t need to know who owns the action.

There can be benefits to the passive voice but it should be done in moderation and only when it is necessary. It is important to remember that a book doesn’t have to be completely active – in fact, a completely active story can have many problems in itself – but passive writing should only be used when it serves a purpose. If there is no purpose, then it shouldn’t be there.

I hope that I have shed some light on passive writing. As I mentioned, this was an area that I had to focus on significantly and it is one that I continue to work on but I am getting there.

All the best,


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving!!! I hope you are all enjoying the holiday. With friends, family, or a combination of both. Today is a day where we should all pause and reflect on what we have to be thankful for. There are the big things. Such as health, our homes, jobs, etc. I know that I am grateful to my friends and family for their love and support. I am of course grateful for being part of The Wild Rose Press and a member of the Black Rose corner of the garden. I love what I do here and the opportunity to work with authors and make their dreams come true is a wonderful and rewarding experience. I love what I do!!!

I would also like to remind everyone to remember the other things that we often take for granted. There are many out there who have so much less than we do. We can walk into a library or bookstore and pick a book up off the shelves without censorship. The ability to read, to write, to express ourselves in forums like this.

I am thankful for the beautiful views that I have out my windows and the sounds of Beatles rockband in the background. (Though I must admit I cringe at what they are doing to the songs, LOL).

I am also thankful today for those who are away from their family in foreign countries. Putting our country first before themselves. Thank you!!

Simply put, I am thankful for my life and where I am today and I invite you to think about the Small things, those things we overlook in our daily life. A flick of a light switch, leftovers, fuzzy blankets, a warm fire, flowers, the rain, a clear sky, and myriad other things!

Have a wonderful holiday... enjoy your dinner and dessert and the love of family and friends. May you day be filled with love, laughter and lasting memories.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tips and Tricks for writing: Breathing

This month we’re talking tips and tricks for writing that book. The best advice I ever heard, read, saw, or repeated is simple: Finish the Damn Book. I think NJRW even had a t-shirt printed with that logo a few years ago. It’s simple and yet elegant in its simplicity.

My advice to finish your damn book is to breathe. I’m serious but will get to that in a sec.

What stops you finishing a book? Time? A life? All good excuses, but they’re just excuses. I’m the first to acknowledge the busyness that is life, but even an hour a day can move that book forward. Now I’m not suggesting you get up an hour earlier, unless you’re a morning person (which I’m definitely not) nor am I suggesting you not exercise but write instead. That’s just counterproductive.

Take your lunch, take 30 minutes after dinner. Have kids? They have to go to bed sometime. Schedule it into your day. At first it’ll be near impossible to find the time, but if you’re committed to writing, to finishing that book, then you’ll do it. Bitching and all.

Ok, so now you’re in front of our computer, that annoying little curses is flashing at you rather mockingly as it sits on an empty white page.


Instead of tossing the curser, monitor and all, onto the floor, at the wall, or down the steps, figure out what’s stopping you from typing your fingers to the bone with the kick ass story you have. The trick is to breathe.


Are you breathing correctly? From deep within your belly, not just your chest. Take 60 seconds and do this. Close your eyes, relax your shoulders, in through your nose, out through your mouth, deep breaths that seem to fill your body. (I learned this from a Reiki instructor who is also heavily into qiqong. She’s amazing.)

As you breathe, imagine all the positive energy (qi/chi) flow through your body. Have a headache? (I’m prone to migraines myself.) Then with eyes closed, breathing deeply, imagine the positive energy you’re breathing in flooding the specific area of the headache and dissolving it. Back pain? Same thing.

In with the good, out with the bad.

Shoulders still relaxed? All those tensed muscles in your forehead smooth? Feeling better? Now put fingers on keyboard and get to it!

I also recommend meditation music, your choice of course depending on taste, but true meditation music may help. Tibetan Meditation Music, Gregorian Chant for Meditation, Quigang Chen: Iris Devoilee, Qigang Chen: Extase

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Yo-ho-ho and a copy of your book – Argh!!

Captain Jack aside, those mythical pirates of days gone by are gushy wimps compared to the crafty robbers of today. Some never leave a computer - ready and able to steal an author's hard work and not once, but thousands of times.

Ten years back, many students in my school were beyond poor and needy. Sadly, these children, neither loved nor cared for, would pirate lunch money, even winter jackets with cool finesse. Watching a Kindergartener give a lunch lady the slip to return to the classroom and pilfer every new box of crayons in less than five minutes was not uncommon. Today, they are the young adults who switched such honed skills from crayons to e-books, music, and artwork. They read books on their phones and negotiate the internet like a video game. But not all pirates come from abject poverty and neglect. In fact, most on today’s web-bandits are educated, middle to upper-class individuals who steal from modern modes of technology simply because they can. And as our world changes, anything posted on the internet is fair game.

Musicians have gotten wise, now it’s time for authors to do their homework. All authors. True, the best-sellers may lose a little in royalties. But can you? Would the ever-illusive goal of sky-high sales say to your publisher that what you write has a following and is being read? Of course! Yet many of us will never know. Our genre at The Black Rose Line often has an underground following, which includes millions of readers with unique techno-competency. And you'd be right to say that book pirates come in any age, size, or gender.

Scary, huh? Also reality.

Piracy sites are insidious. Once discovered, they disappear only to resurface with another name. And they don’t just pirate one book – they pirate thousands! Some charge – as little as 5 cents a copy to download! Owned by individuals who can crack any code and vanish, these sites are filled with "stuff" that can infect any unsuspecting computer.

In a recent workshop, I learned that 65% of Amazon books are pirated. It’s shocking. And paranormals tend to be right up there with hard-core Science Fiction and Erotica. No author, not the biggie or the newbie, is able to stop this. Song writers, poets, artists, filmmakers, musicians can’t stop it either. The loss of hard-earned royalties to piracy sites is suspected to be in the millions of dollars and there’s no end in site. The guest speaker likened piracy to lending a book to a friend. We all do this – to a few individuals. Now think about lending an e-book that is pirated and downloaded. Think of the websites dedicated to reading our genre. Now add the closet vamp-lovers who sneak a peek at our sensual heroes and heroines in untraceable downloads, perhaps to read and trash in a week. Scary indeed! Large houses that have begun to publish e-books are starting to take notice. Big authors are starting to demand action.

Moral character, anyone? How about “Thou shall not steal” or “That’s not yours, so don’t touch it”? Pirates steal our work because they can – it’s that simple. No encryption is too difficult to break. So what do we do? We educate ourselves about this matter. Google the term, read the articles, but above all, DO NOT click on some unknown site because you see your book listed there and think you can demand they stop! Report the abuse, swallow the loss of another royalty, and get your mouse far away from the site. In other words, grit your teeth and let it go.

Many organizations exist that have knowledge about e-book piracy. You just have to investigate a bit. Recently, I found such a group that has brought this to our government’s attention. I applaud the effort and truly hope they can raise awareness of piracy on the web. Don’t dismiss the effect on your sales. Be aware and form an opinion. Then, take a stance.

After all, you might have a best-seller and not even know it.

Mickey Flagg
Visit for November news.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Writing Quirks

After agonizing over something to share with everyone, I finally decided to focus on a few of my odd quirks when it comes to writing and ask if any of you have them as well.

Unlike most people that prefer sticky pads and computer programs to keep their stories in line, I'm a cheap-o composition pad lover all the way. I have one for each story I've ever written, and even purchase the little-bitty ones to keep in my purse when the brain is a stewing over a new plot, characters, or a story I just can't seem to get out of my mind. I get odd looks sometimes when diving for the pen that is often lost in the monstrosity of what I call a Mom purse (which can occur anywhere, including the movies), but I've found it works best for me.

Some of my other odd habits?

Listening to Music and making "mini-movies".

When I can't work a scene or can't "see" it right in my head, I'll pop on some music to create the mood and let my brain go. If I'm lucky, I can accomplish this while doing mundane chores around the house. Tackling two birds with one stone and all that.

Playing it "odd".

When the story just isn't flowing well and I want to go postal, I'll go full on silly instead. It's always fun to open a new word document and place the characters that aren't giving you squat into odd situations to see how it plays out. One time I had my hero and heroine combating large roach-like insects inside a warehouse using nothing more than a hand kettle of Jiffy-Pop and a case of Coca-Cola. Think a funny version of the movie "The Mist", minus Thomas Jane and that creepy Marcia Gay Harden woman.

Writing a scene in first person, then switching it up.

I love doing this. It helps me gain a feel of the character and hear their distinct voice. I don't do this often because it becomes a project of it's own, but writing something in a first person narrative from the hero or heroine's perspective truly does give you a fresh outlook on the material.

Those are just a few odd things I do when the mood isn't there and I need to re-group or take a break. Most of them are meant to be (and are) fun and relaxing. Sometimes, that's the only way to combat the stress of daily writing.

What are some of the things you do to stay on track? Share with a comment. I can't wait to read your answers.

Happy Writing!

One Writer’s Journey in Keeping Track of Her Characters

When I first heard about the topic of writing tips and tricks, I got scared. I have yet to write a full-length novel – what could I possibly say to inspire people? Then I took a breath and really thought about it. I may still be working on that first novel, but I’ve taken a lot of workshops and tried different processes to find what works for me.

I’m a pantster so I don’t have outlines or plot boards. Everything is my head and this works well for everything but tracking my characters descriptions. Did this guy have a beard? Did that girl have gray or brown eyes? These things need to be tracked because going back through your story can be time consuming.

For the very first story I wrote (buried in my files waiting a major rewrite before it will see the light of day), I listed my characters on a piece of paper and made some simple notations. This doesn’t scale well and I went looking for something else.

There are plenty of example character sheets on the internet. Anywhere from 2 to 20 pages worth of questions. My brain seizes each time I sit and try to fill one out. Not the method for me.

I have a list of software programs different authors have said worked for them to use for plotting and research. The Super Notecard program from Mindola Software looked like it would work for keeping track of characters. The trial worked okay. I could have notecards on the laptop instead of piles of cards the kids would knock over and get out of order.

But my husband didn’t like it because you had to pay to fully activate it. Also he wanted to institute a server setup at the house and we’d need a copy for the server and my laptop. (What can I say, he’s a computer geek.) He suggested FreeMind – a mind mapping program. It’s free and java based so it works on any platform.

I’m still learning the program, but it’s going good. You’re also supposed to be able to organize research, so that would be a plus when I need it. You can add notes (like meaning of names or story ideas), insert links, and add pictures. You’re able to collapse and expand trees as you need them. Below are some maps I’ve created for stories I’m working on:

Template for Novels

Mended Hearts – fantasy story in progress

On Hidden Wings – paranormal romance in progress

Monday, November 16, 2009

How I Write

I’ve dreamed up the most interesting characters. I capture their story. I proofread their story. Now it’s ready for submission. Right? Wrong!

First, I go through the story again and highlight all of those annoying writing habits I have. I tend to use that and adverbs too often. I always have numerous occurrences of push, pull, thought, saw, heard, felt and watched. Finally, I have issues with the correct use of lay versus lie.

Most of my thats are deleted. Adverbs are replaced with more descriptive phrases or verbs. All of the weak verbs are replaced with the assistance of a thesaurus. I keep a link to an online thesaurus... For the lay versus lie issue, I keep a link to Grammar Girl…

Second, I do a read through and determine where I can add more sensory detail or descriptive sentences.

Third, I send it off to be critiqued. I have a lot of faith in my proofreading skills, but when it comes to my own work, I tend to read what I meant to put down on the paper as opposed to what I actually wrote.

So, I need a critique partner, preferably four.

Two of my critique partners are great at checking for continuity issues. What needs to be fleshed out? What doesn’t make sense? What contradicts? My other two critique partners are great at checking for all those things I overlooked during my own proofreading. What word did I use incorrectly? What would be a better word to convey my meaning?

Fourth, I read through all of the critiques and incorporate suggestions I like and fixes that need to be made.

After one final read through, I submit.

I hope sharing my process helps someone out there!

So, how do you write?

His Hope, Her Salvation, coming December 16th!

Promised in marriage to an abusive oaf, Judith resolves to find out if there can be passion without love. Snatches of conversation overheard at the local inn lead her to a mysterious American merchant who might be able to satisfy her carnal curiosity and capture her heart.

Donovan, a Guardian Hunter, is on the trail of a rogue Elysian in Georgian England. As the son of the First Hunter, he long ago gave up hope of finding his heart's mate. When Judith appears in his study, his inner beast and his heart demand he answer her plea for help.

Will their passion answer their hearts' pleas, or will it wither under the threat of reality?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Learning the Ropes: A New Writer's Viewpoint on Writing

This month’s topic was a request for ‘writing tips and tricks’. As a newly published author I feel absolutely hypocritical providing others with ‘tips and tricks’, after all, isn’t that for the real writers? The multi-published gurus? The people with experience? Or education? It can’t possibly apply to me, after all, I’m just, well, me.
Writing has been an interesting journey for me. At nearly 40 I have only recently managed to tell strangers I’m a writer without ducking my head and looking bashful. It was difficult at first and I literally had to force myself to say the words but the more I did, the easier it got. (I think I had a bad experience in the second grade because I truly expected people to laugh when I announced I was a writer.) Imagine my shock when people were supportive, excited and even encouraging.
So while I’m still learning (and I hope I never stop) I will share the two most valuable lessons I’ve learned thus far: (1.) Never be afraid or intimidated to involve others in my writing. This includes everything from owning the fact that I am a writer, to showing my work to others, to joining a group or chapter.
One of the hardest things for me to do as a writer (aside from admitting it) was to involve others in my writing. If a friend hadn’t challenged me to a contest, I might never have published anything. If the same friend hadn’t practically dragged me to an RWA meeting I probably would never have gone. Thank goodness she did because I learned that no one was there to laugh or make fun, instead they were there to support and encourage. It was such a welcome relief to learn that I didn’t have to be alone. Of course, we are all solitary practitioners producing our stories a word at a time, but we can network, support one another, critique and throw out ideas. We can stay in touch via email, phone and impromptu coffee shop meetings.
I also had to get over my inhibition of letting someone else read my work (I think this also stems from that bad second grade experience?). At some point over the years I must have grown a thicker skin than I realized because from moment one I decided that critiques, changes, edits, re-writes and corrections (from anyone other than my editor) are only suggestions. I can take ‘em or leave ‘em. If my editor makes the same call, maybe then I’ll take notice but until then, if I like it, it’s going to stay. Why? Because it’s my story.
Point number 2. Write. All the books in the world aren’t going to write my story for me. I can (and do) have an entire library on plotting, scene and structure, characterization and viewpoint, writing fiction, writing romance, writing science fiction. I have books to help me name characters and entire encyclopedias on mythological creatures. I have books on angels, demons, tarot and astrology. However, no matter how many books I have (or read), I still have to sit down, tune out the world and write.
Some days it’s easier than others. Some days the words flow like water in river, other days it’s a battle to get a single page. Some days I don’t write at all, but I forgive myself and try to do better today. In his book “The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write” Mark David Gerson says that ‘writers often have the cleanest windows, floors, fridges and toilets because in the moment, just about any task seems more palatable than sitting down to write.’ While I certainly don’t have the cleanest house (that ranks lower than writing) I completely understand what he is saying. I can check my email, play solitaire and run to the grocery store, anything to keep from having to sit down to that keyboard. Yet once I do, I’m so glad I did. I’ve had to learn to recognize my own signals of avoidance and overcome them. I hope that someday I will get past this procrastination but for right now I work on overcoming it one day at a time. (If you haven’t seen Mark David’s book, I highly recommend it. You can find it here):
Writing is such a solitary endeavor but I think our need for support and encouragement are only human. If you aren’t in a writing group of some sort, I urge you to seek one out. Take a class online or at the local community college. If there isn’t a writer’s group in your town, consider starting one. Don’t know how to find other writers? Hang out in the writing reference section at your local bookstore. Be patient, it’s like fishing, but sooner or later a likely candidate will come along, and chances are they will be just as excited to meet you as you are to meet them. Run an ad in the local paper or post one on an online classified site. Don’t be afraid to put yourself and your work out there instead, embrace the support and encouragement others want to give you and most importantly, write!
Autumn Shelley is the author of "Blood Moon" a paranormal romance featured in the 'Taming of the Wolf' Anthology.


So what's the scurry flurry behind the popularity of paranormal romance? Maybe today might explain things. It's Friday the 13th. And since my paranormal-romance series is founded upon numerology, I can talk about writing with numbers. ;)

The number 13 has intrigued humans for millenia and continues to grip our imaginations when the sneak between the covers of paranormal romances. Just what's the fascination all about? The symbolism of a number, x-hmm, the most basic form of symbol in a worldview that controlled some of the greatest Western minds for thousands of years. How? The symbolism is passed on from generation to generation of course. But what is behind all that shared meaning? Ah ha! The missing pieces to self-analysis, predicting the future, and empowerment. After all, mathematics was considered sorcery just a few centuries ago, especially when Protestants arm-wrestled Catholics and nobility had to mop up the mess. (Not that I generally root for nobles.) Numerology was old-school-our-lives-are-predestined-road maps, taboo in that we could read the futures of others if schooled in the subject, affect the futures of others, potentially control their destinies... But what value can we find in a number with our scientific perspective today?

I write about two cultures from the future who intermarry as soul mates to safeguard history as they travel along the timeline, TIME GUARDIANS. They use numerology to traverse time and space. Okay, maybe they need some fairy magic in the mix too. So, formally educated in hard and soft science, I had to study numerology--a completely foreign concept to moi. But within the incredibly complex fabric of numerology lays an equally interlaced science. One of my favorite books has the answer. In Richard Craze's NUMEROLOGY DECODER, number 13 stands for magic and mystery. It is one of the strongest and most powerful secondary numbers--numbers outside of the basic primary numbers 1-9. Remember, these numbers are believed to be the blueprint to your personality, a symbol, shared meaning with value passed on from generation to generation. And these numbers can help writers with characterization.

So you've calculated your known name, birth, and given name numbers. Secondary numbers add another aspect of meaning to your 3 primary numbers. Of course, I think 7 is just as significant to those into paranormal romances. Seven is the number of individuals whose favorite subjects are mysticism and the occult. And isn't 7 supposed to be lucky? Perhaps the luck is in a individual's awareness and affinity for peering outside the box. Essentially, you can play a lot with numbers once you understand their basic meaning. Think Tarot cards with nothing but a number--the most basic symbol--on the cover. This concept goes back to Babylonia. I have a hard time wrapping my brain around myself being a 5. I can handle pear. *ugh* But there's more to the symbolism one can play on in writing a paranormal or straight historical tale. Yes, with a historical, an author must know what the people in a culture thought.

If you're dealing with Western history, just pick up Ben Jonson's VOLPONE, Dante's INFERNO, or Spencer's THE FAIRIE QUEEN. I promise you that every line, every quatrain, every canto, etc has a number associated with it. And if you look up that number in numerology, you will find the theme of that line, quatrain, canto, etc. I took Medieval Lit and Renaissance/Reformation English Lit AFTER I wrote on my Time Guardians' series for a few years. The professor was too busy insisting everything in Western history was bad if it wasn't Christian because she wanted us to adopt her Anglican bias... Back to the "etc."... Even when 4 or 7 people ran onto the scene to save the day, there is value embedded in the number of characters arriving. Four represents a problem. Seven represents luck. Albeit, mystics probably looked at things differently than the peasant Catholic who relied on a priest to converse with God for him/her. (Lord, I'm rambling!!!) And there is a bit more to consider...

Carl Jung studied the symbolism in a Tarot deck while working his way up to be one of the biggest names in psychology. Betcha didn't know that. It's amazing how strong and long-lived symbols are. You tell me if you think it's unlucky to sit among 12 others at a dinner table. And historically, the hangman's fee was 13 1/2 pence, (1/2) pence being the cost of the rope. The Scot's mark, "Hangman's money," was 13 1/2 pence. Not to mention, all the Christian symbolism in the Haxey Hood Game wouldn't mean beans without the number 13. Where's the rub, eh? Symbolism. And humans are fools for it. Culture hinges upon shared meaning, i.e. symbolism. Don't literature professors swear all those shifters and vampires are related to the inner beast breaking through to the surface where they take control turning the weak into animals, and, God forbid, convert others whether willing or not? Or maybe days like Friday the 13th are supposed to remind us how much we fear the dark little secrets hidden deep within us all? What about that it doesn't matter what science proves to us, we really are at the whims of some force if even just basic atomic attraction? Everything is about power. Use symbols to empower your writing by deeply embedding symbolism in your wip.

And don't forget to enculturate your reader when whipping up a new world. Internalization should reveal the meaning of all symbols by revealing your character's goals, motivation, and conflict. I mostly rely upon Deep POV. I do pull out of it to add stimulus. For more information on what I'm talking about, visit THE SOUL OF FICTION and BARE YOUR CHARACTER'S SOUL. ~Skhye

Read more about numerology, historical reference sources, the paranormal, the Celts, and writing at Skhye's Ramblings.

Buy Time Guardian tales

A war wages among the Gods. Two Celtic time-travel orders from the future intermarry as soul mates to safeguard history. Paradox is but a stolen heart away. Open the door to a new reality where legend becomes history and destined love defeats timeless evil...

"Arthur is a masterpiece..." He of the Fiery Sword's King Arthur ~Diane Mason; The Romance Studio

“The Spell of the Killing Moon offers the best of spine-tingling suspense. The setting is perfect... Moncrief’s ability to wield magic and emotion are without compare. Her words twist together emotions and visuals until you experience this tale as if the trap were set for you. Some lines blend a kind of poetic magic: “Moonlight wove a special kind of magic, a spell so vacillating that a person never knew if reality were anything other than a dream.” Darkness and premonitions and deadly intent fill these pages... a unique blend of mystic Medieval Gothic and romance…and a true blood-curdling thriller. 5 books" ~Snapdragon, LASR

"Intense, original, suspenseful, and dramatic... an unpredictable topsy-turvy romance... the suspense builds with every page in SACRIFICIAL HEARTS. In a world where symbols mean everything, magic is the way..." ~Snapdragon; LASR

"Be the change you want to see in the world." ~Ghandi

Skhye Moncrief's website