Mary Ann Loesch's Blog, page 10

September 1, 2013

Congratulations to Jen Armstrong! Her story Chaotic Thrills is the winner of our Summer Mayhem and Amusement Parks Short Story Contest! I really enjoyed this story and it was one of those pieces that stayed with me after I'd read it--especially with everything going on in the world right now. Be sure to check it out and tune in Friday when I post the fabulous interview Ms. Armstrong did with me.---Mary Ann

Chaotic Thrills  by Jen Armstrong   

            It was a cool, crisp Saturday morning in the middle of April.  With the van loaded, we headed

out for our first trip of the year to the amusement park. 

For three years now, we had tucked away a little extra money for season passes.  The excitement radiating from the kids with each visit was more than enough reasoning to justify the splurge.                After driving nearly an hour through four lanes of rushing traffic, we finally arrived at our destination.  For miles the kids could see the roller coasters high in the sky.  They shouted and squealed with excitement.  It never seemed to grow old to them or to us for that matter.                We pulled into the member’s lot, still having to park quite the distance and make the long hike to the park entrance.  Knowing what was ahead made the daunting walk much more bearable.  We piled Olivia’s stroller full of our necessities for the day and strapped her into the seat.  She gleamed from ear to ear at the thought of riding her favorite pink horse on the carousel.                   As usual, when we arrived at the gate, our bags were checked, ID’s were scanned and we passed through the turn-styles ready and willing to dare the coolest, fastest rides.                This year would prove to be even more exciting than previous years.  Our oldest son, Noah, had always been able to ride all the rides with no restrictions because of his height, however, in previous years, our middle child, Caleb, had been left out of the excitement of the biggest rides because he fell just shy of the height requirement.  This was his year.  He was finally able to ride the big rides, much to my dismay.                As we made our way to the newest ride first, an exciting thriller with nothing more than a waste bar to hold you in, my heart began to race.  I looked at my small framed, eight year old son and panic quickly set in.  As a mom, there is nothing worse than worry and fear for your children, which creeps in and overtakes your mind.  I imagined him getting on the coaster, having the time of his life, laughing with bundles of joy and just when the highlight of the ride sinks in, him slipping through the safety bar and plunging to his death on the stone ground below.                It’s certainly not the pretty picture we had started out with that morning.  What had been sheer excitement for us all, was quickly wiped from my mind when all the “what if’s” began to take their place, occupying in mind, stealing those precious moments of joy.                Tony and the boys made their way through the winding line of anxious thrill seekers.  Olivia and I watched from afar, noting the fearless faces loading the black and red coaster.  Click and clanks sounded from the air pressure safety mechanisms locking the bars against each riders lap.  They were off, off to the thrill of a lifetime, one I could not bear to watch.                  In my heart, I hoped they would be fine.  What are the odds of someone falling from the ride, I asked myself.  These things are tested and retested and tested again, right?  Of course they are!  I had convinced myself there was no reason for all this worry.  Everything would be fine and what memories we were making.  After all, hadn’t we done this very same thing for the past couple years?  This was a new beginning, a new thrill for Caleb and who was I to take that away from him?  I waited with anticipation for his safe return.                In the meantime, Olivia and I watched as other guests passed by, each with their own stories of why they were there, how often they came and what worries they brought with them.  I found myself drawn to their stories.                 I imagined as this one family walked by, they were probably from nearby.  They looked like regulars.  The two small girls had matching bows tied around their bouncy blond curls.  The mom was thin, wearing a light blue tank top with gray shorts.  She looked like a runner.  She’s probably one of those 5k kinds of moms, I thought.  The dad wore an overgrown five-o-clock shadow.  I assumed he was a business man and enjoying a day without having to be Mr. Professional.  They were the image of the perfect suburban family.  Images of their house and car ran through my mind.  They probably lived in a cute little neighborhood with matching mailboxes and a well groomed entrance, bearing a sign that read Happy Trails Community or something of the sort.  They most likely drove the newest and safest SUV or minivan, in a dark gray, I pictured.  They were soon out of sight and my focus quickly turned to another family.Strolling along the hot, black asphalt was what appeared to be an extended family.  There was grandma and grandpa, doting on the four small children.  They stopped along the brick seating just down from the bench where Olivia and I were waiting.  Overhearing their conversations, they carried quite an accent.  Chicago, I guessed, but having traveled very little, all I knew for sure was it had to be a northern accent.  Two younger couples followed behind pulling a large plastic wagon with two more children in tow.  The little boy in the wagon was wearing dark blue sunglasses and a funny little orange hat.  The girl, who I assumed was his sister, kept kicking his legs, and shouting, “Move, you’re in my way!”  I chuckled slightly, thinking of the trip here and how Olivia had done the same thing with Caleb when he had gotten close to her.  She often shouted her annoyance by him or tattled when Caleb would continuously aggravate her.One of the gentlemen quickly introduced a juice cup and snack to the two small children and all was well in their world.  The other children plopped down along the brick wall next to grandma and grandpa.  I listen for a few moments, enjoying the stories grandpa told about when he had brought their dad to this amusement park when he was their age.  The women stood there and talked about what rides they would do first.  The grandma and one of the girls traded licks on a bright red lollipop.  Olivia noticed the lollipop and begged for a purple one which I, of course, promised to get her later!Other people continued to pass by as I watched, imagining where they came from and where they were headed.  Families, large and small, young couples and groups of friends passed by, all excited to be headed to their next ride.  It was a beautiful sunny day.  Not a cloud could be seen in the brilliant blue sky.Moments later, much to my relief, Tony and the boys had found their way back to us, safe and sound, with all their limbs.  I breathed a momentary sigh of relief, thankful for their return.   The emotions, of course, would all return at the next big ride.Suddenly, just as we were reacquainting with each other, shrills came with full force from a few feet away.   Tony shouted, “Wait here!” and before I knew it, he was gone.  He ran over to the gift shop that was quickly being swarmed by onlookers.  There, on the ground, was a small boy, probably about ten years old or so.  His lips were a dark shade of purple.  He was lifeless.  Tony pushed through, stating he was a firefighter and there to help.  He leaned down to the boy, felt his neck for a pulse and began pressing on his chest.  Something was wrong, very wrong.Minutes later, emergency personnel toting their bright red and orange gear pushed through the crowd and took over.  Tony stayed there, waiting to offer more aid if needed. “What happened?” I wondered.  What could possibly have gone wrong?  Maybe an allergic reaction?  A heart condition?As the boy was loaded onto a stretcher and hauled away by the emergency workers, the crowd began to thin.  In no time, people had all but forgotten the moments that had just transpired.  A family left in crisis and yet we all returned to our day of thrills.Just then, more screams.  “Oh God,” I couldn’t help but shout.  As if I hadn’t already experienced enough emotions in my battle as a mom, letting her child go on this crazy roller coaster.  What was going on?The family I had just been admiring, the runner mom, business dad with the pigtail girls.  The dad ran by with his daughter cradled in his arms.  The mom and other girl not far behind him, were screaming, “Help!”  Emergency workers were still nearby and came to their aid.  We watched in disbelief as they too began doing compressions on her petite frame.At this point, those in the area near us were practically in panic.  It was odd for one situation, but to have two?  Floods of emotions began to rush in.  Of course my mind began to wander, thinking of all the possible explanations for what was happening.  Was the food poisoned?  Could there be two allergic reactions?  Was this really happening?Just then, the unthinkable happened.  Dozens of people started screaming, shouting for help.   Several more people fell to the ground.  The grandma and the little girl with the northern accent collapsed just feet from where we were standing.  A young man shooting basketballs fell to his knees screaming in agony, grasping his throat.   Two teenage girls passed by the snack stand as the first one fell, the second looked on with terror and collapsed next to the first.  There were people passing out, crashing to the ground all around, others panicking.   It was pure chaos all around.Tony glared at me.  I could see the fear in his eyes.  We wanted nothing more than to run, to get away, to go home and to be safe, but what about these people.  What was wrong with them?  What had happened?  Were we next?  In that moment, a whole new fear filled my body.  Was my family safe?Police flooded in.  Sirens were blaring.  Park workers shut down the rides and encouraged everyone to stay calm and stay put.  People were rushing towards the gates, frantically trying to catch up with their loved ones.  We were promptly escorted to the main entrance of the park.  There, many more officers lined the gates with metal detectors, and canines.  Families were being questioned and searched.  Guests were encouraged to report to the EMT’s and get checked out.  What had been my own silly worries over the safety of the roller coasters, had quickly turned into justified fear, overwhelming concern for my own family and others.Hours later, after thirteen deaths, nearly fifty people sent to nearby hospitals and hundreds more checked out by firefighters and EMT’s, the suspects were caught.   Three men who had previously worked for the park had come in as guests when the park opened that morning.  They had placed some lollipops with arsenic in the candy store.  Immediately, I thought of Olivia’s request for a lollipop.  In that moment, all that could have happened to our family was wiped away with tears of thankfulness that she had not yet gotten her own lollipop.  As the police were searching the park to investigate what happened, they found the men videoing the scene.  They had been watching with joy as people fell, while on lookers screamed and panic set in.  With handcuffs on, police hauled the three away through a side gate.  News crews were outside the park waiting to interview the police.  As one officer shoved a man into the car, the reporter managed to ask, “Why, why did you do this?”  His reply, “It’s all about the thrills, isn’t it?”
© Jenny Armstrong, July 2013
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Published on September 01, 2013 23:00 • 33 views

August 29, 2013

Today's guest is Jo Linsdell and she has a book out on a topic that many of our readers are curious about: virtual book tours. The title of the book is Virtual Book Tours: Effective Online Book Promotion From the Comfort of Your Own Home. Ms. Linsdell has a great deal of experience in the promotion arena and we are pleased to have an interview with her today. Welcome Jo!-- Mary Ann

Tell us a bit about your latest book Virtual Book Tours: Effective Online Book Promotion From the Comfort of Your Own Home.

Virtual Book Tours are a great way to create a buzz for a new release or to put life back into an older publication. In this book I take you through everything you need to know to be able to set up and carry out a successful virtual book tour.  The book is divided into 4 main sections for easy navigation: 1) What is a Virtual Book Tour? 2) How to organise your own tour 3) Promoting a tour 4) Useful resources. You'll find it packed with links, tips, and advice to help make your tour a hit.

Why do authors need your book?

Marketing is part of being a writer. Regardless of how you're published (traditionally or self-published), you will, at some point, need to do some marketing. Virtual book tours are one of the most effective methods of creating a buzz about your book and have numerous benefits. In this book I cover everything you need to know to organise and carry out a virtual book tour. Even if you decide not to do a virtual book tour, you'll still find this book useful as it's packed full of marketing ideas and links to resources.

Why did you decide to write a book about virtual book tours?

I've done several successful virtual book tours for my own books and have worked with book tour companies and authors for years hosting them on my sites. Over the years I've therefore gained a lot of experience in doing virtual book tour both from the author and host point of view. As I often get asked for advice about doing them from other authors I decided to put all the information together and created Virtual Book Tours: Effective Online Book Promotion From the Comfort of Your Own Home.

What is the first thing you recommend authors do when they decide to organise a virtual book tour?

Put together a media kit. In creating a media kit you have all the information regarding your book, you as an author, and your virtual book tour, all in the one place. This makes it a useful reference tool for you, but also a valuable tool you can use during preparations for your tour. It looks professional and creates a good impression. I also makes life easier for your hosts as they have all the information they might need for your post all in the one place.

You created the cover art for the book yourself. What was your inspiration for the design?

I wanted a cover that was thumbnail friendly as, more often than not, it gets seen online in that format. That meant the text needed to be easy to read and the whole look needed to be clutter free. Too many details or fancy fonts don't look good in thumbnails. I also wanted an image that quickly portrayed what the book was about. I choose the theme "sending your book around the world" and played around with some ideas based on this idea. I'm really pleased with how the cover came out.

Why did you choose to self publish using Amazon's KDP program?

I've always been very pro self publishing. For me, it's always been my plan A. I choose Amazon because it's the leader in its field. Everyone knows Amazon. Using the site is super easy and through KDP your book can be available to the public in just 12 hours from hitting the publish button. 

I like that through KDP setting up a free day is easy. It's a great way to spread the word about your book and get readers to take notice. I like that you can update your book information as and when you please and have full control over pricing. They also have one of the best customer services I've come across. If that's not enough, they bought Goodreads earlier this year (one of the top sites for book lovers).

You're best know for your best selling children's picture books. Why the change in genre?

For me, it's not about thinking outside the box. The box simply doesn't exist. I like to experiment with my writing and although I've had most success as an author and illustrator of children's picture books, I'm always trying out new genres. When I get an idea that gets me excited, like this book about virtual book tours, I go with it. 

You're a mum to a 5 year old and a 2 year old. How do you find the time for writing and marketing?

My kids definitely keep me busy but I've learnt to make the most of the time I get. I do most of my writing in the evenings once they've gone to bed. Sometimes my husband will take the kids out for the morning to give me a break and give me a few hours to work on bigger projects. 

During the day I hop on and off my social media pages to network. I have the apps installed on my phone so I can visit and engage with my contacts even when I'm not near my computer.

I use sites like Social Oomph to program some content to post at scheduled times. I do the same for some posts to my Facebook pages. This gives me a constant online presence without needing to actually be online all the time. I also program my blogs ahead of time. When you have young kids anything can happen and so you need to prepare for the unexpected. By having some content programmed in advance I give myself a safety net and so don't need to stress about keeping up with things as much.

What's next?

I'm currently working on another children picture story book The Bedtime Book, a series of non-fiction books for writers and authors about using social media, and some new collaborations as an illustrator. I like to keep myself busy ;)

Where can people find out more about you and your books?
On my website

Anything else you'd like to add?

Virtual Book Tours: Effective Online Book Promotion From the Comfort of Your Own Home is available to buy at the discounted price of $2.99 for the whole month of September to celebrate its release (normal price $4.99)

Ready for more? Here is the best way to get in touch with Jo Linsdell and get a copy of her book!

Full Name: Jo Linsdell
Bio:  Jo Linsdell is a best selling author and illustrator and internationally recognized marketing expert. She is also the founder and organizer of the annual online event "Promo Day" ( and the Writers and Authors Blog ( To find out more about Jo and her projects visit her website
Links to twitter, facebook, blog, and website FacebookTwitterhttp://JoLinsdell.blogspot.com 
Title: Virtual Book Tours: Effective Online Book Promotion From the Comfort of Your Own Home
About the book: Virtual Book Tours are a great way to create a buzz for a new release or to put life back into an older publication. In this book I'll take you through everything you need to know to be able to set up and carry out a successful virtual book tour. 

The book is divided into 4 main sections for easy navigation:

1) What is a Virtual Book Tour?
2) How to organize your own tour
3) Promoting a tour
4) Useful resources

You'll find it packed with links, tips, and advice to help make your tour a hit. Product Details:File Size: 384 KBPrint Length: 83 pagesSimultaneous Device Usage: UnlimitedSold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.Language: EnglishASIN: B00ELNAQ92Text-to-Speech: Enabled Purchasing links: (Kindle) (Kindle) (Kindle) Goodreads link:

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Published on August 29, 2013 23:00 • 63 views

August 27, 2013

I admit here and now that I'm no supporter of the idea of giving away books (and nor are any of our authors). Yes, it is founded on a good idea - the notion of giving free samples to customers in order to entice trade. My uncle used to be a rep for a chocolate company and he'd have boxes of sweets to give out to shopkeepers to 'try' (in the comfort of their own home, of course). I know for a fact that this ‘generosity’ ultimately resulted in lots of sales.

Don't make publishing a game of chanceI'd say the same for the modern book giveaways but just look at it from a customer's point of view. The average reader simply wants a (good) book so, unless they're seeking out a specific title or author, why should they do anything other than pick a freebie. After all, that same book could cost as much as $10 tomorrow (probably not but it could).

The sad fact of life is that there are just too many blasted books being given away for your novel to be noticed once it stops being free.

Based on the theory that goes 'if you can't beat them, change the rules', when you're looking to write a new book, make sure that you download all the top reviewed freebie books in your field. You'll need to do this over the space of about a week so that you don't miss any important ones.

Having got the books, quickly analyse them. How do they begin? How many principal characters? Do the books generally have happy or sad endings? What about the locations?

Because of the range of different genres, it's impossible to come up with an exhaustive list of questions but you get the idea. Find out what makes these books tick. Grab 20 or 30 and really see what the common thread is - that's what you're going to gain from this exercise from a writer's perspective.

Having done that, now look at the covers. For this part you can also go to the paid-for books but obviously don't download them unless you really want to buy them!

How many words do the titles have? What words keep appearing? How many images are the covers made up of? What do they have in common? Where is the title - top, bottom or middle? What about the author's name?

This sounds like a lot of work. True, but it's nothing like as much work as goes into writing a book. Given that all the invaluable research I've set out here shouldn't cost you a red cent, what can be the excuse for not doing it?

Not only that, the days of so many freebies to choose from has got to be numbered and they’ll soon disappear along with the incredible wealth of information that's currently a mere click or two away.

Any Subject Books acts as a conventional publisher of e-books and POD's as well as providing a full range of services to the self-publishing and independent author. Not sure which applies to you? Follow the link to the publishing services page.
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Published on August 27, 2013 23:00 • 35 views

August 25, 2013

As a teacher, it always makes me a little sad when the end of summer approaches. Summer is when I have time to really dive into the zillion writing projects on my plate and finally make sense of them. Fall means back to the full time job and juggling family and writing in the evenings.

Here at All Things Writing it means we journey into yet another successful blogging season! As always we will continue to accept guest bloggers for our Friday slots. Clive West will continue to bring you his brilliant tips and advice on the writing process, and next week I will be announcing the winner of our Summer Short Story contest! It's a doozy!

I am currently interested in finding someone to fill another blogging spot at All Things. It would be great to have someone do weekly book reviews for us in a wide variety of genres. Unfortunately, it would be a non paying position, but if you are itching to share your thoughts about the latest books out there, email me at

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Published on August 25, 2013 23:00 • 32 views

August 22, 2013

Today we welcome guest blogger, Kate Hawkins! Welcome to All Things Writing!--Mary Ann 
    When I am writing, I usually get scenes, short plots, and/or characters in my head. THAT'S what inspires my writing. It might be a single, short, boring scene that inspires me. It might be some movie. Heck, it may even be another author's book. My ideas come from anywhere and everywhere, just like everyone else's. For me, the hard part of writing is plotting the whole story. Occasionally, I'll slip up where the characters are involved. I have to change a few characters and a few relationships throughout the story. I have to add and kill characters fairly quickly. When a writer says that writing isn't easy, they're right. It takes a lot of rewriting and editing and changing your plans to create a piece that sings.
 Most authors know what they're talking about. I've seen a lot of tips for writing, and when I created this site, I added 'and tricks' simply because I liked the sound of it. In reality, there are no tricks to writing. There aren't any shortcuts. You can't wave a magical wand and end up with an amazing story, or even a poor one. Writing takes experience, which I am lacking in because I've learned almost nothing about writing these past few years. (Texas has changed their state tests, and our main focus has shifted to essays. Not a sentence of fiction.)
So, I'm going to give some tips of my own. Honestly, I haven't tested any of them. They're mostly theoretical.

Tip 1: Set a daily word count
I see this one everywhere, and if you've looked at writing T&T before, you probably have too. It's everywhere. Honestly, I've never tried it, but I want to. Personally, if you're like me, a 750 word count sounds good. And don't worry; it's not as long as it seems. It's just over a paragraph or two. Also, most typing programs (Word, Notepad, etc.) have an automatic word counter. This word count, as far as I remember, is just a minimum. However, I wouldn't go over 800 words total. That way, if I still had ideas, I could save them for the next day.

Tip 2: Join a writing group
Most schools have some sort of creative writing club. I've never been to one, and I'm not sure how it works, but I intent to pay a few visits this coming school year. I don't know if they do poetry, fiction, research papers, or fantasy, or a mix of all of them, although I'm hoping for a fiction group. That way, I can promote this website as well as my other one where I post my writings. (

Tip 3: Constructive Criticism
This is EXTREMELY important. Coming from someone who knows what they're talking about, this can help your writing immensely. If you don't have anyone telling you how to get better, you wont improve. I haven;'t gotten constructive criticism in years, and I realized how little I've improved when I found a story I wrote in middle school. There really isn't much I want to change. It's staying almost the same as it was four years ago! So, this is important. This is where your writing will get better and how it will evolve.

Tip 4: Edit and Rewrite
I hate this part of writing. I hate rereading my work. It's awful. But, unfortunately, I know I should do it. In my other work (Again on I haven't edited or rewritten anything outside of Dakota's story, and that was only redone because the story was no longer a collaboration; my partner is no longer available for it. So, I have to change it and change characters and such, even though the plot is staying mostly the same.

Tip 5: Get Good Feedback
This, IMO, is important. If you don't have anyone telling you you're good or that you have potential, you're not going to want to write anymore. This is a big confidence booster. However, don't let it go to your head. Make sure to remember the constructive criticism when you write.

Tip 6: Show off your work
What's the point of writing if no one's going to read your work? Yes, some people may enjoy writing for themselves, but most people I know hate it. Personally, if I'm not getting views for my websites, I get lazy and stop posting. It doesn't have to be many views (I get excited about two unknown people visiting.), but any readers, regular or not, are good. However, try your hardest to get regular readers early on. If you're posting a chapter every other week like I am for three stories, new readers can get overwhelmed fairly quickly.

Tip 7: Run your work by friends
  I do this quite often with one of my friends. She helps me come up with great ideas to help keep my story moving. This step is also important to me, because without her input, I'd have a very, VERY boring story. And I don't even realize it until I hear her opinion! So, this seems to be a great idea to me. It may fall under the feedback category, but it is helpful.
To learn more about Kate, drop by her website
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Published on August 22, 2013 23:00 • 19 views

August 20, 2013

A good book should engross you, fold you up in its arms and then transport you through its pages on a journey that you will never want to end. If this book were thus compared to a long coach journey, the vehicle’s seats would be comfortable, the road smooth, the scenery dramatic and the driver highly competent. OK, there would be little 'rest stops' along the way but they'd not likely be the memorable part of the ride.

Likewise, when you write a book, you will need to incorporate 'interruptions' (for want of a better word) to the story when the narrator describes a particular object or action. In general terms, that descriptive element should be sufficiently long as to satisfy its purpose but no longer. Having an hour rest stop while you 'freshen up' and get a hot meal is about right - you'd not want it to be 3 or 4 hours, though, because that'd be much too long. Likewise, 10 minutes would be ridiculously short. See what I mean? There’s a balance to be struck.

The thing I'd really like to concentrate on the remaining part of this blog centres around the best way to tackle detailed descriptions and how not to make them intrusive. To my mind, and ignoring the self-indulgent author's "I'm going to go ahead and do it anyway because I just don't care what the reader thinks" with his or her page after page of largely irrelevant nit-picky details, there are three ways of tackling it.

Add some relishFrom my experience, this is a somewhat archaic style much favoured in the nineteenth century. Here is one of my favourite authors, the great M R James, who penned a series of ghost stories which were famously drawn from by the BBC as their Ghost Story for Christmas production for a number of years. Here's an excerpt from 'Rats'. You can see by the way he writes that he clearly takes a great delight in his choice of words. This carries the whole thing through.

One of his walks took him along the northern road, which stands high and traverses a wide common, called a heath. On the bright afternoon when he first chose this direction his eye caught a white object some hundreds of yards to the left of the road, and he felt it necessary to make sure what this might be. It was not long before he was standing by it, and found himself looking at a square block of white stone fashioned somewhat like the base of a pillar, with a square hole in the upper surface. Just such another you may see this day on Thetford Heath. After taking stock of it he contemplated for a few minutes the view, which offered a church tower or two, some red roofs of cottages and windows winking in the sun, and the expanse of sea - also with an occasional wink and gleam upon it - and so pursued his way.

Show and tellThis is my own preferred way of dealing with a detailed description. I do it in two parts - the first, a brief outline of the object providing sufficient information for the reader to form a basic picture of the object (ideally 1 paragraph) and then, using dialogue, I get my characters to explore it. This breaks up the narrator's monologue and (hopefully) means my reader feels that they're playing an active role in the scene.

Thus, if I was writing the above piece, I might use the narrator to describe the distant view and then dialogue (even with the character talking to himself) for the second part.

Do it in instalmentsIn some cases, it might be possible to break up the description into two or more parts which can be kept separate to avoid clogging up the action. Again, using the above example, Part 1 might be the distant view of the object, Part 2 might be subsequently lying in bed, remembering what happened and Part 3 might be asking questions about it the next day.

Ultimately it doesn't matter how you tackle lengthy descriptions as long as you give enough but not too much detail to the reader. You're writing fiction, after all. Too much detail detracts and also makes you appear pretentious or self-indulgent.

Finally, if I'm to return to that coach analogy, I should end with something like, "That's the ticket!", shouldn't I?

About the author Any Subject Books offers a full-range of self-publishing services which are provided by real people, not computers! You'll find everything from brainstorming and ghost-writing to formatting, video production and all other aspects of promotion on our website. Full prices are displayed along with our famous 'no quibble' guarantee of satisfaction.
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Published on August 20, 2013 23:00 • 39 views

August 15, 2013

We have a guest blogger today, Kirra Sherman, who is all about keeping positive during the writing process. I hope we hear more and more from this talented writer!--Mary Ann

It sounds almost too good to be true, but there is a space where writing almost writes itself. Most writers at some point stumble on this flow of creativity where the words just flow effortlessly.
It's as if one idea leads to another, and one word leads to another until there is a gorgeous piece of writing that almost miraculously flowed out of thin air. The truth is that it did. What do you think creativity is? It’s the space of imagination, and it is both empty and full depending on how you look at it. It’s full of infinite ideas, but it requires you to be empty in your mind. 
To write from the space of flowing creativity, the space in your mind must be clear to access all possibilities. When you’re open to all possibilities, you allow an idea to come into your space, which is likely something you love to express. And when you write from that space, you don’t need to know the whole story, or how it will end, or what the ultimate message will be because it’s moment to moment.
Effortless writing is about writing vulnerably, which sometimes emerges emotions into the writing by connecting with the feeling that wants to be expressed through a message, or characters, or a story. It can be cathartic writing in this way, processing the reflections from your own life experiences.
Writing in the flow is accessing that one message wanting to flow authentically from your fingertips. It requires your presence, willingness, and the ability to put aside judgment of what it is that’s being written through you.
When you write from the space of creativity, rather than your mind, it’s going to be a very different experience, too. It feels differently in the body, and in my experience, it’s much more enjoyable. It’s enjoyable because from moment to moment, I, as the writer, am on the edge of my seat waiting for the message to unfold. And it feels like a flow is coming through my body, not just floating thoughts in my head. In fact, there is no thinking whatsoever.
When the flow takes over a piece of writing, it’s as if it’s a whole body experience because the flow is a part of my whole being. And while this is the experience you have while you write, inevitably it affects the reader in the same feeling way. It can be a powerful experience in how it inspires you as a writer, and how it feels to the reader.
How do you access the flow in writing and what gets in the way?
1) DECIDE – Sometimes a writer puts a pen to paper, but still hasn’t made a whole-hearted decision to write something of value whether it’s for the writer or the reader. Decide with your whole being to write your message, dance your dance, and sing your song.
2) Get present – put your energy in your feet and feel the sensations in your body. The flow is found by connecting with your being-ness.
3) No judgment – Let go of what you think the message is and just open up your mind. Notice any limiting thoughts and embrace them rather than resisting them, but bring yourself back to presence.
4) Don’t write until the message finds you. You don’t find creativity… creativity finds you when your mind is empty.

Kirra Sherman is an Intuitive speaker and coach who shares about writing and living Intuitively to feel more alive. She works one-on-one and in small groups to guide you to follow your inner feeling and make your choices from love. Follow her writings and learn about her Intuitive Guidance sessions on
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Published on August 15, 2013 23:00 • 43 views

August 13, 2013

Effective dialogue should be realistic, character building, plot-related, and, above all, interesting. With the following tips, you can begin to improve the dialogue in your writing instantly.
Think about what your characters are saying. Is this what somebody would say realistically? Listen to conversations when you’re out and about, whether you’re on the bus or in line at the supermarket. Pay attention. This will help you start to think about how people generally communicate with one another.

Listen to the tone of their voices and the kinds of words they use to establish their relationships. Is the average person likely to use a word like ‘tenacious’ in an everyday sentence when a more commonly used word would be ‘stubborn?’

These are all things you need to be thinking about and asking yourself when writing dialogue. Say what you’ve written aloud to ensure it sounds realistic when spoken.
So, somebody might say it realistically… but should you really write it into your story? By the same token, going too far in the other direction should be avoided too! People frequently say things like ‘I’m going to the bathroom,’ but it doesn’t make for interesting reading.

For example, if two of your characters are having a conversation, don’t have them interject with things like this. It’s dry and doesn’t help the reader.Your characters should always be saying something. Long conversations about nothing in particular aren’t at all interesting. The following is an example:

Bob: I’m going to make some coffee.
Bobette: Can I have one too, please?
Bob: Sure. Where have you put the coffee this time?
Bobette: Top shelf. So, today I went to the shop…

And so on and on and on. Everyday conversations that are somewhat mandatory in real life, but dull as dishwater to read about, do not make for effective dialogue.
Think to yourself, ‘is this something my character would say?’ A middle aged character is not going to use the same dialogue as their fictional teenage son. Keep asking yourself questions as you write dialogue, and even more so during editing, such as: ‘does this sound like my character? Would my character say this?’ and so on. It might feel like hard work at first, but soon it will become second nature.

Are you furthering the plot? So, you’ve reached the climax of your story. There is chaos everywhere. And your characters start having a conversation about how many trees there are around them.Okay, this is an unlikely example. But the point is, ensure that your characters are not having discussions that are irrelevant, or speaking for the sake of it. Yes, you need dialogue for the purpose of building your characters, but they must always be furthering the plot at the same time. For this purpose, dialogue is just as important as narrative.

Writing good dialogue takes practise and a great deal of thought. Keep all of the above in mind and you’ll find yourself writing effective dialogue in no time.

Stephanie-Louise Farrell is an up-and-coming authoress who has already published a popular selection of short stories called 'Haunted' and is now engaged on writing a full-length novel. She is represented by Any Subject Books .
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Published on August 13, 2013 23:00 • 41 views

August 6, 2013

Partly because of my job and partly because I love reading, I tend to get through a lot of books in the space of a year. Most of these I’m pleased to say that I get all the way with, while with others I just can’t make it past the first few chapters. One of the major reasons (just below lousy writing and poor grammar/spelling), is where the writer has introduced an over-preponderance of characters.

It's an understandable fault. The author wants to make their book realistic - one person doesn't equate to the cavalry and, in real life, the ‘cavalry’ doesn't operate as one being. Each individual acts individually so they must be described that way in order to accurately represent the real world.

Unfortunately this invariably makes for absolute confusion in the mind of the reader. The difference is that, in our day-to-day lives we have history with the characters; some of whom we may well have known for years therefore they aren't just names on a page. Even if we've only just encountered them (in real life), we've still seen, heard and even smelt them so, when they do something or something happens to them, we can quickly and easily relate to them as an individual.

Facing the quandary of 'do I have loads of characters whose identities confuse the heck out of the reader?' or 'do I sacrifice realism for ease of reading?' and you've really got to let the latter win. Go back to before the age of literacy and widely available reading material and what do you get? A small band of traveling players who'd go from town to town performing a few plays for the entertainment of the populace. Troupes were of a limited size, stages were small and stories had to be simple. Characters were frequently composites and always at least a bit larger than life.

On this unworthy scaffold to bring forth ...Today's audience is undoubtedly more discerning but they’re just as easily confused by dozens of characters whom they've not really bonded with milling around the stage that is your novel. Even the most dedicated reader is not going to persevere if they can't figure out the "who's doing what to whom and why?" question and you will soon lose them, not just for the current book, but for good. A successful author has to take liberties with their writing in the same way that a playwright has to with their casting. From the early days of street theatre, the most important thing has always been the act of getting the message across through the provision of an entertaining and memorable show. If you want to join their ranks, consider their dilemma of depicting a battle scene (for example) by just using 2 to 4 participants.

Your role as a storyteller should be as unobtrusive as possible and your characters should never get in the way of that story. That way your readers will always want to stay until the final act.

Any Subject Books provides the full range of self-publishing services to independent authors. Unlike larger companies, they offer the 'personal touch', using human beings to edit and format scripts instead of throwing books to the nearest computer (to mangle).
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Published on August 06, 2013 23:00 • 28 views

August 4, 2013

Love triangles...they certainly do make for interesting reading material. It seems like every young adult fiction series has one, too. Not that I'm complaining. Let's face it: a little love intrigue can really spice things up!

But what are the elements of a good love triangle? Here's one simple formula that we will look at today:

Girl has best friend who has the hots for her and she sorta reciprocates. He is nice, good looking, and makes her laugh. Then the new guy enters the scene. Like Guy 1, he is good looking, but with a devil may care quality that she finds fascinating and repellent all at the same time. Usually, he's hurt and burdened by a dark past. Guy 2 still sweeps our Girl off her feet, though at some point he will screw up so that she can fall into the arms of Guy 1. However, Guy 2 will redeem himself in some way and that's when the decision moment happens: who does she pick to be with?

Spoiler alert---it's probably going to be Guy 2. As much as we like Guy 1, somehow he always gets overlooked.

How did I do? Does the above scenario sound familiar? Have you encountered it in your reading or perhaps in your own writing?

While there are always variations to the love triangle scenario (hey, sometimes Guy 1 might win after all), it's usually pretty much the same thing. And that's not necessarily a bad thing! The fun part is seeing how it all works out in the end and what the author does to hold the reader's interest.

I'm talking, once again, about the emotional connection.

I love it when an author can surprise me with the love triangle scenario or more importantly, get me emotionally invested. Now, most of you are probably familiar with the whole Bella, Edward, Jacob situation from Twilight. My husband can probably write a dissertation on the subject and he hasn't read the books or seen the movies. The thing is--that triangle is so famous because the author was able to make a strong connection with her readers and they couldn't stop talking about it. Heck, they were even picking teams, hence the Team Edward/Team Jacob phenomena.

I recently read two series by Cassandra Clare--The Mortal Instruments series and The Infernal Devices trilogy. Both tales sucked me in, but for different reasons. Both also had strong love triangles that evoked an emotional response from me.

MAJOR SPOILER ALERT: Do not read further if you don't know how this series ends. I'm going to be talking turkey here and I don't want to ruin it for you.

In the Mortal Instruments, our triangle is Clary (Girl), Simon (Guy 1), and Jace (Guy 2). They pretty much fall in line with the earlier example I gave you. However, there are some cool twists that I didn't see coming like...wait for it...the possibility of incest. Clary and Jace are supposedly brother and sister though they don't know that at first. This throws a kink in the relationship and drives her back to Simon. However, the author doesn't let us get too comfortable with that since she turns Simon into a vampire and introduces a werewolf that has designs on him. There's also a possible distraction to the triangle from Alec who is Jace's best friend and his sworn "soldier" partner. In the end, everything works out fine and readers everywhere celebrate when we discover that Jace and Clary are not related to each other and free to love. Simon and Alec both find other love interests so the reader is left with the feeling that all's well that ends well.

For me, the emotional connection in this book was that I was not rooting for Jace. I actually didn't really even like him. I wanted Simon to win Clary's heart and the author briefly gave me that satisfaction only to jerk it away. I should have stopped reading right then, but damn---the emotional connection made me keep going.

In the Infernal Devices we have something a little different. Tessa is our Girl. Will and Jem are Guy 1 and 2 but they are a little different. They were close friends which made the love triangle even more interesting because you knew it would probably break up a strong relationship that had been established prior to Tessa's arrival on the scene. Once again, I had trouble liking Will and rooted for Jem. However, to my surprise I started to really like Will and that complicated my feelings. Who was going to win her heart? Who deserved it more? Was it possible she could have a relationship with both men? Without giving it away, I have to say that the author did a good job of giving me what I wanted in the end.

But again, she stuck to the basics of the love triangle rule and established a strong emotional connection with the reader.

So what can you take away from this? What's the point? When writing a love triangle, find ways to deviate from the formula, but give us solid, developed characters that are flawed, but still easy to relate to.

Take a look at your own work. Do you have the love triangle? What are your characters doing that make us care about them? How are you establishing that emotional connection? Is your heroine torn about who she should be with? Is the reader supposed to see things about the men that she doesn't? Are we privy to the inner workings of the minds of the love triangle members?

What are some other great love triangle examples? Share!
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Published on August 04, 2013 23:00 • 52 views