• Who We Are

  • Schedule

    Mondays ~ Kinetic
    Tuesdays ~ Snarky
    Wednesdays ~ Dreamer
    Thursdays ~ Wicked
    Fridays ~ Eerie
    Saturdays ~ Mighty
    Sundays ~ Swamp Tales

  • Wicked’s Tweets

  • Snarky’s Tweets

  • Dreamer’s Tweets

  • Eerie’s Tweets

  • Mighty’s Tweets

Happy Almost Halloween

Halloween

This year seems to be speeding past in a blur of nauseating colors. The Halloween decorations have not, in fact, been set up yet. The pumpkins are still not carved, and I have no idea if I’ll attempt to wear something costumey when I take the kids trick-er-treating.

Darn. So much still to do.

I kind of get this pang of guilt when I think of all these things. I really want the holidays to be special for my children, but my mind has been so focused on the day-to-day, I’ve completely lost sight of the big picture.

A leaky faucet? No problem, that’s what we have that home warranty for! What, the faucets are covered, but not the accessing of the faucets. What does that even mean? You have to take apart the entire tub to fix the problem? It’s going to cost a couple grand?

Sigh.

Who needs surgery?   Well, that stinks, but that’s what insurance is for! You say six grand. Really? But the surgery should be our sole focus, not the cost.

Not your problem. Understood.

And then there are the small things, like ants in the kitchen, laundry, and the never-ending pile of dishes. These are the things that have to be done, day in, and day out, or else they turn into larger issues.

If only there were four of me.

All this might make me sound like I’m not looking forward to Halloween, or the holidays in general. But the truth is, I can’t wait. Have you every seen a toddler in a duck costume? Or a baby dressed as a tiger? If not, I’ll tell you one thing, you’d have to be made of ice not to smile. I just need to really focus sometimes on the things that are not a creeping smog of problems, and instead, focus on the things that are truly important.

Like quacking ducks and roaring tigers.

Enjoy the holidays!

Are you ready for Nano? #AmWriting #NanoWriMo

 

National Novel Writing Month.

November.

Write 50,000 words in one month. Around the holidays.

That’s an average of approximately 1, 667 words per day.

I’ve attempted Nano three times, and succeeded twice. The first time, well, lets just say the results weren’t pretty. What helped me win was preparing before the month began – but then, I’m a plotter, LOL.

What I like best about Nano, though, isn’t whether I hit the word count or not, but diving into the habit of daily writing with specific goals in mind.

This year, I have a small goal. Write every day except for Sundays, and Thanksgiving. I’m not concerned with making the 50k, but I’m going to try for it :D

With the last few months researching and building a new world and a new series, hopefully I’m prepared!

So, who’s doing Nano this year?

Have you done it before? How do you get ready for the push?

 

And if you’re interested, I’m higleyb on the Nano website if you’d like to add me as a friend

:D

~Amber Kallyn

Delve into your Dark Side

All Hallows Eve is quickly approaching. Demon children will be scattered in the streets demanding to be fed. Jack-o-lanterns, representing the souls of the deceased, are screaming to be cut and burned from the inside. As you’re feeding miniature devils the marrow of life (aka chocolate), don’t forget to set aside some time to feed your own demons. Delve into your dark side to create a truly horrific tale of zombies and vampires that will haunt us all the way to Thanksgiving. Below are some ghosts captured in photos to inspire you. You can decide whether they are real or not. But I must warn you, look to hard and they may never leave.

It was November, 1905. Shropshire, England. A fire raged out of control burning Wem Town Hall to the ground. During the fire, onlooker Tony O’Rahil, captured these photos. No people or firefighters recalled seeing a girl at the scene.

This was taken in a small abandoned cemetery, Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery in the Chicago area. The Ghost Research Society took this picture in 1991. There was no woman present when they took the photo.

Michael Meehan and James Courtney were killed on board the SS Watertown in 1927. In route between Panama and New York, the men were buried at sea. Days later, the men were recognized. Their faces sticking up out of the water. The captain took these pictures.

manila-ghost

This picture was taken in Manilla in 2000. This was a digital camera so no chance of double exposure. Neither of the girls reported any person being nearby. Or at least any living person nearby.

Color Me

highlighterWhen editing, I find highlighters are a great tool. They help me look at my writing in a different way. Highlighting helps me to focus on one specific correction, and help improve it. Here are a couple ways to color your manuscript.

 1. Verbs

Lately I have been focusing on using stronger verbs and avoiding the all too common “was” or “is”. When I highlight them, I get a bigger picture of my verbs usage. Then I go back and know what sections to strengthen.

2. Show Don’t Tell

Highlight every time you find an adjective (smart, funny, sexy) or a feeling (envy, bored, hate). If you see too many highlighted words in one section, go investigate. If you take the word out, will you still have conveyed the message through action or description?

 You can use this method to focus on any area you wish to improve. Whether setting or verb tense, looking at your story in a different light—literally—can help you identify its pitfalls. So, grab some colors, and get to work.

 

Writing a Winning Blurb

A blurb is the description of your book, found on the back cover. Marilynn Byerly,a best-selling author, says that “Blurbs are the second most important selling tool you have for your book, so you want it to grab the reader’s attention” I realize how incredibly important a blurb is for enticing people to read a book, so I’ve been obsessing over my own. After struggling with it for weeks, I finally turned to the internet for advice. I thought I’d share some of the things I learned.

As my story is a YA Fantasy with romance, I looked at how Marilynn Byerly suggested creating a blurb for a fantasy story. What I gathered, she recommends the following:

  1. Setting First
  2. Plot Set Up
  3. Main Character Emotional Involvement and Exterior Conflict

Amy Wilkins, who writes blurbs for Harlequin, suggests hooking your reader with your protagonist by asking yourself what the reader needs to know right away. Or, to focus more on your setting, if it is unusual.

She also discusses something called “shoutlines,” which I’ve never heard of before. They are the bolded text between paragraphs or at the start of a blurb that grab your attention. But, she emphasizes that you need to ask yourself if it is needed or adds anything by having it.

One thing Amy really focused on is finding that balance with how much plot to involve. If your reader doesn’t need to know it, or it gives your whole plot away, it’s probably best to leave it out. She suggested picking a spot a quarter or a third of the way through, and not telling anything after that point.

Another thing she suggested, which I hadn’t thought of, was to us a line from your own book. She says it should set up something and can really covey the author’s voice.

Her final suggestion was to end with conflict. That way, you leave the reader wanting more.

I really found these tips useful, but I think it is still a really difficult thing to try to find that balance between hooking your reader with your characters and plot, yet not giving too much away. It also seems so easy to fall into using cliques to make my points. I must avoid them, no matter how tempting!

Any suggestions on how to write a great blurb? What completely turns you away from a book, after you read the blurb?

Websites on writing great blurbs:

http://www.marilynnbyerly.com/blurb.html#SFANDFANTASY

http://savvybookwriters.wordpress.com/2012/02/02/5-tips-on-how-to-write-a-blurb-for-your-book/

http://romanceuniversity.org/2011/11/23/5-top-tips-for-writing-a-compelling-book-blurb-by-amy-wilkins/

Allison Merritt stops by with a hot demon sheriff and a Giveaway @allison_merritt

Please help me welcome the lovely Allison Merritt to the blog today. She was not only gracious enough to answer some questions, but she’s sharing her HOT! upcoming release, and giving away some goodies.

Peeps! We have a HOT DEMON SHERIFF :D Read on to find out more.

wystantour
Allison, thanks so much for stopping in with us. And for letting us delve into your mind. First, tell me about this hot demon. If the book became a movie, which celebrities would play the characters?

 If Wystan became a movie, I’d love to see Henry Cavill play him. Man, does he have the jawline and the muscles for being a badass demon-slaying hottie sheriff? Yes, yes, he does. And for Rhia, I’d like to pick Anne Hathaway. She’s so talented, and I think she’d really capture Rhia’s personality.

 I’ll just say YUM! at Henry Cavill and we can move on ;)

 What hobby do you enjoy when not writing?

 I got a late start on watching Game of Thrones, seriously, I’m just now on season two, but I’m so into this. It makes me want to write fantasy romance. I love movies. It’s not unusual for me to bring home a different DVD ever couple of days to watch. When I’m not on my bum, I like to walk and take photographs of nature.

 It has a great storyline, love the angst, LOL.

 What’s your favorite comfort food?

 Lemon meringue pie. I call it solid sunshine, because that’s what sunshine would taste like if you could get a mouthful—you know, if it was a thing you could taste and not get horribly burned when you ate it.

 What’s your favorite color? Do you decorate your space and/or dress in this color often?

 It’s blue. I have more blue shirts and a couple of dresses than normal. I told my husband not to let me buy any more blue clothes, but it just keeps happening somehow. It’s not my fault cute clothes come in blue. We should complain to the manufacturers.

 Yay for blue! the best color ever.

  If you could time-travel, where would you go and why?

 I have an awful hankering to meet Nikola Tesla. You know the guy invented a way to get electricity without using all that crap Edison did? I curse Edison every time I get an electric bill. Tesla seems like he was a really interesting man. Little is really known about him, but I’d sure like to talk to him.

 Why are manhole covers round?

 They were inspired by stroopwafels. Have you ever had one of those? They’re an amazing thin wafer cookie filled with caramel syrup. They’re fantastic with ice cream.

 Do you have any upcoming news you’d like to share?

 Just a couple of months ago, I submitted Eban (The Heckmasters, Book #2) to my editor and I’m pleased to announce it’s coming out in April 2015. I just got the cover. I promise, between that and the story, everyone will be blown away.

  

Fast Five:

 Coffee or Chocolate? Chocolate

 Jewelry: Precious gems or gold? Gems

 Beach or Mountains? Beach

 Early Morning or Late Night? Late night

 Fruit or Veggies? Fruit

 

About the Book:

 WystancoverTitle: Wystan (The Heckmasters)

Length: 228 pages

Pubisher: Samhain Publishing

Publication date: October 21, 2014
Buy links:

Samhain            Amazon          B&N          Google Books

 

Blurb:

Her search for safety lands her in a totally new kind of danger.

 The Heckmasters, Book 1

 Certain that an ad for a job in a small New Mexico Territory town is the answer to her prayers, Nebraska schoolteacher Rhia Duke packs her sister into a rickety wagon and heads west.

 Except when they reach the near-deserted town, she learns the truth. There is no job, no future, and no welcome in the bleak blue eyes of the handsome sheriff.

 The minute Rhia’s runaway team thunders into town, Wystan Heckmaster feels the change in the air. One of three sons of a demon who dared love a human, he keeps watch over a Pit guarded by seven seals, and slays any Hellbound demon that attempts to free the master imprisoned within.

 With a gut full of regret and a forgotten town filled with reformed demons, Wystan is certain of one thing: he can’t be the man Rhia needs. But when the truth behind Rhia’s flight from Nebraska comes to light, Wystan must open his soul—and pray there’s enough love between them to overcome the darkness rising from the Pit.

 Warning: Contains a take-no-prisoners sheriff, a woman who can’t outrun her supernatural secrets, and a dusty town where hope is as thin as dust in the wind. Author recommends keeping a glass of cool spring water at your elbow while reading.

 

Excerpt:

 Something changed in the air the moment the wagon crossed the town’s border. Too  early to be a supply train, and there was no way in hell it was visitors. Berner didn’t host  town fairs, theatre troupes, peddlers, or bible thumpers.

 Wystan Heckmaster slapped his battered Stetson on his head, collected the keys to the  jail, then stepped out the door. The first thing he saw was a pretty woman with hair the color of maple sugar—a rich brownish-blonde. The frown on her face spoke volumes, and the air around her pronounced trouble. She made a straight path for him.

 “Mr. Heckmaster. Or should I call you Sheriff? Or Mayor? I need to discuss the ad in the Lancaster County Republican with you. Someone placed an ad, but your brother tells me there is no school here. I’m sure there has to be a mistake. There’s only one Berner in New Mexico Territory. I’m very capable at reading maps. If I wasn’t, I would be ashamed to call myself a teacher.”

 He doubted she had taken more than two or three breaths during the speech. If she made talking in rambling paragraphs a habit, no wonder she looked so peaked.

“Teacher?” He glanced along the street, but it was deserted as usual. “Lady, we don’t have a school here. Certainly no need of a teacher.”

 Her hands balled into fists that settled on her hips. The dress she wore was patched—the egg yolk yellow faded into something even more disgusting. It had little flowers dotting the material, but they looked as worn as her scuffed black boots.

 “Then what was the purpose of placing an ad in the Lancaster County Republican?”

 She spoke with the fierceness of a mama bear warning predators away from her cubs.

 Wystan reached into his shirt pocket and drew out a toothpick. “I didn’t place any ad in any Lancaster County anything.” He looked past her, expecting Eban to saunter up the street. Eban had to be the brother she’d referred to since Tell was still on the trail.

 “Someone did,” she insisted. She fished a crumpled and much-folded piece of newsprint out of the pocket hidden by the folds of her skirt. “See? Right here it says, ‘School teacher wanted for spring term at Berner Schoolhouse. Wages paid based on experience. Room and board provided. Apply in person at City Hall, Berner, New Mexico Territory.’ I’m sure my eyes don’t deceive me.”

 Wystan stared at the clipping, then back at the woman. A galaxy of freckles spattered across her nose and cheekbones, making her look younger than her eyes said she was. Full figured and sure as shittin’ a grown woman. The wariness and worry darkening her hazel eyes gave her away as one with a lot of trouble on her plate.

 “I can read.”

 She pulled the ad away from his face, folded it, and returned it to her pocket. “Where would you suggest I look for an explanation, Mr. Heckmaster?”

 Fussy little thing. “I assure you that no one in this town did. There’s been a mistake. Sorry to inconvenience you, Miss Schoolteacher. Now turn around and head home.”

 A flush colored her cheeks. “I can’t head home! I have no home to return to. My little sister and my friend are waiting at the doctor’s office for me to straighten this mess out. The ad says that room and board will be provided. I’d expected to move into a room, sir.”

 “You left them with Eban?” That explained his absence.

 “Beryl is ill, Sheriff. This is the first town we’ve seen in days and it was past time for her to get some attention.” Despair crept into her voice.

 Wystan shifted his weight and transferred the toothpick to the other side of his mouth. “Eban’s not exactly trained in human medicine.”

 The woman’s mouth opened into an O. She shook her head and seemed to regain her senses. “He’s a veterinarian? He seemed certain he could help Beryl.”

 Wystan cleared his throat. “Sure, animal doctor. I’m sorry for your misfortune, lady, but as you can see, Berner’s about run into the ground. There’s nothing here for you or your friend. Might be best to move along.”

 She seemed to deflate. “Move along.” Her lips moved, softly forming the words, but it was as though she didn’t comprehend them. “We’ll move along, right down the trail into the next town where there won’t be any teaching jobs either. Sylvie, Beryl, and I will starve to death on the side of the road with no one in the world to care.”

 

Buy links:

Samhain            Amazon          B&N          Google Books

Click on the link for the Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

About the Author:

10624850_848959491804943_4194715946300646117_nA love of reading inspired Allison Merritt to pursue her dream of becoming an author who writes historical, paranormal and fantasy romances, often combining the sub-genres. She lives in a small town in the Ozark Mountains with her husband and dogs. When she’s not writing or reading, she hikes in national parks and conservation areas.

 Allison graduated from College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Missouri with a B.A. in mass communications that’s gathering dust after it was determined that she’s better at writing fluff than hard news.

 

Social media links:

Blog – http://havenovelwilledit.blogspot.com

Facebook – http://facebook.com/allisonmwrites

Twitter – http://twitter.com/allison_merritt

G+ – http://gplus.to/allisonmerritt

Goodreads – http://goodreads.com/AllisonMWrites

Pinterest – http://www.pinterest.com/allisonmwrites/

Precision in Language

I watched The Giver this weekend with my husband. I have loved the series and thought the movie was well done. One statement they used in the movie was “precision in language”. The parents often reprimanded the children when they were not clear about their feelings. Over the course of the weekend, my husband and I often would correct each other with the same comment, “precision in language,” as a joke. But as I am going through my edits, I find myself time and time again breaking that simple rule.

I often do a word search for some of these culprits: just, well, now, and so. Another nasty one for me is “was”.

For example:

Jim was walking down the path just as a plane flew overhead.

I can cut out “was” and “just” straight off the back. Then add a little show don’t tell to deepen it even more.

Jim walked down the path, when he heard the roar of a plane overhead.

Editing can be tedious and hard, but precision in language makes for a stronger story. Do you have any pitfalls you have to search for in editing?

Going to Jail

Kelly’s hands went numb. Painful tingling spread down her arms.   “What does that mean?”

For the first time in the years they’d worked together, her lawyer avoided her gaze. “You got ten years.”

“T—Te—Ten…”

“Put your head between your legs.” But he didn’t give her time to reply; instead, he shoved her head between her knees.

Her breath came in sharp, painful gasps. The numbness had spread to her arms, which lay like spaghetti-noodles at her side.

When her breathing finally slowed, he released the back of her head.

She sat up, her view shifting from her ten dollar shoes to the merciless courtroom. “But I’m innocent.”

Brian turned to her, his ruthless lawyer mask gone. “I’m so sorry. But… we knew this could be a possibility. That’s why I suggested taking the plea deal.”

“Counselor?” A smile touched one corner of the judge’s mouth. “Does your client need another moment?”

“Yes, thank you.”

Brian turned back to her. “They’re going to take you in a minute.”

But Kelly wasn’t looking at him. All she could see was the twinkle in the judge’s eyes. This was not a man who thought he’d given a fair ruling. No, this was a man who’d been paid quite nicely to lock her away.

Anger clenched Kelly’s gut. She couldn’t let this happen. No, she wouldn’t let this happen.

Guards came, cuffing her hands in front of her. They led her towards the side door, but she moved slowly, never breaking eye contact with the judge. “Tell Johnny this isn’t over.”

His eyes narrowed. “Wait.”

The guards looked confused, but obeyed.

The judge came to stand a hand’s length in front of her. His sleek black hair looked wet. His nose was as red as a drunk’s, and she caught the unmistakable scent of whiskey.

He motioned the guards away, then leaned towards her and sneered. “I wonder if you’ll still think you’re too good for Johnny’s bed by the time you get out.”

She flashed him a smile. Her cold hand clenched his sickly-thin wrist. In a flash, the world spun and shifted.

“Back off!” The guards hauled her away.

No, not her, but the judge.

The body she now wore ached with age, smelled of body odor and liquor, and felt weak and uncomfortable. But as she watched the judge finally realizing what she’d done, his eyes widening and his mouth dragging open, a feeling of immense satisfaction filled her.

The door closed on his shouts.

Now, to find that son-of-a-bitch, Johnny, and make him pay.

****************************************************************************************************************************************

Sometimes the best thing a writer can do is pick a topic and write a quick short story about it.  I think it gives me a chance to stretch my creativity, without committing to anything.  The temptation to obsessively go back through this, improving it until it is perfect, rears its ugly head.  But, I’m not going to do that.

I’d love some other topics though.  Any suggestions?

I’m Finished My Book, Now What?

I went back and forth about whether to go a more traditional publishing route or to self-publish. Just recently, I finally decided what to do… self-publish.

This book is so important to me that I really want to make the right decisions. I honestly dream about having readers who “just can’t wait for my next book.” Maybe that’s silly, but it’s true. And when I weighed all my options, I realized that self-publishing would give me the most control over my book. I won’t just be sending my work out there to maybe get read by an agent or publisher, someday. It will be up to me when my book is available to the world.

But with that control, comes a lot of work. A list of things I needed to do slowly started forming in my head, then got typed up on a paper. I went from feeling like, yay, I’m done, to IT has begun.

These are some of the things I’m working on:

  • Writing my Blurb
  • Getting my Cover Designed
  • Finding a Line Editor
  • Figuring out CreateSpace
  • Figuring out Kindle Direct Publishing
  • Marketing
  • Book Formatting

These things might not seem that complicated, but believe me, they are!

I’ve got this perfectionist inside of me, who has been tied up and gagged for years, because if I let her out, I’ll go nuts. But with something as precious as my book, she’s struggling to assert herself. Just this weekend, I spent two hours looking at the headers and footers for various books, and messing around with my own.

Maybe no one will care whether my page numbers end up on the top of my pages, or the bottom, nor whether my name or the book’s name is included in the headers, but I care!

And that’s just the beginning. Formatting may be the death of me! I swear figuring out my “gutters,” as well as, the indents for lines, pages, and paragraphs is crazy. What seemed perfectly fine when I was typing it, is not the right format for a book being put in actual print. And guess what? The formatting is different for an Ebook! Who could’ve guessed?

But with all this said, this next step of being a writer is so neat… and scary. Just a couple years ago, being almost ready to put a book out there was little more than a dream. Now, it’s almost reality. No matter how stressed I get, I can’t lose sight of that.

That Great Pair of Red Heels: The Em Dash

The em dash is like a killer pair of red heels. They can accent an outfit or dress in ways nothing else can. No, they may not be necessary. You could wear some sneakers or a pair of black flats. But red heels make a statement.

Em dashes do the same thing. They break up a sentence, and tell the reader to pay attention. And just like those red heels, they can be overused. You wouldn’t want to wear red heels, a bright red purse, a red dress, a red jacket, and a red boa around your neck. When you pepper your writing with too many em dashes, they lose the desired effect.

Here are a couple things to remember when using an em dash:

*No spaces around an em dash.

*They can offset words or phrases, not always part of the subject.

          Example: She is the girl—the only girl—he could call at this hour.

*They can replace mandatory punctuation such as commas, colons, and semicolons.

          Example: The paper—dated March 1972—was found in the back of the closet.

*If you can’t find the em dash symbol on your computer, use two hyphens next to each other — and sometimes the computer will automatically convert them for you.

Hope this helps with your writing. Please don’t be afraid to whip out those red heels. We all need a little flair now and again.

 

References

1.The Chicago Manual of Style. Fourteenth edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993, p. 5, p. 107.

 

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