the cover reveal’s in 2 days. thanks, guys!


I have a book cover reveal coming up in two days, and I just want to thank everyone who’s volunteered to help me. Honestly, when I first decided to self-publish, it had been painted to look like such a bleak and lonely path…but I met some wonderful people who changed my perspective on that entirely.

People all over the world have volunteered to use their blogs and facebook walls to help me reach as many people as possible. I know even two or three views of the beautiful cover Syd designed, that’s a potential audience. The only thing that bothers me is that I can’t reach out and hug you all. Just know I am so grateful that you’re helping me kick off my career, even if it’s just a cover reveal.

The book isn’t out till hopefully late June. Hopefully.

As you know if you’ve been following my blog, setting release dates got me into a lot of trouble. When I was unable to publish on the 12/13/14 release date, I fell into a horrible slump…I felt like I’d let someone down–myself, at any rate. I felt like walking away from the whole project. But with the coming of spring, I’m back in action.

That’s what I get for trying to take control of a project that, from the beginning, is only possible because of God. He gave me the gift of writing, the story I’m telling, and all these amazing friends who’ll be helping me.

And while a cover reveal is by no means the end of this project, it’s one of the final steps to getting it published. This story is finally going to have readers. Even if there aren’t thousands, a handful of people who like the story will be enough for me.

To everyone who’s stood by me with this project from beginning to end–thank you for believing in me and offering your time–to hear me complain, to give me advice, to tell me things will work out. I’ll still need all of you after the 19th. Love you guys! There are so many of you to thank. After the 19th I’m going to dedicate a post to all of you, so the world will know how awesome you are.

I really, truly wouldn’t be brave enough to do this alone.

So thank you. And to my readers, I hope you stick around on the 19th–and share the cover on social media, if you can. Every bit helps. Hopefully this will be the first cover reveal of many.

Heather Says:


I have a beta reader named Heather. (Who had an epic summer and went to Spain. Visit her blog here!)

There should be more beta readers like her in the world. I’m so lucky that she’s agreed to read through my manuscript three times, and is willing to do a fourth.

Also I’m really glad she likes the book, too, which means she’s able to appreciate the characters almost as much as I do.

Usually what happens is I send her my book as a PDF file, and she’ll color-code her comments. Recently I’ve sent it as a .doc so she can kill any typos she finds (because chances are I won’t find them) and she still leaves hilarious comments. It makes editing so much fun.

This is a blog post to brag about my beta reader, and it should have come way sooner. Thanks, Heather! <3

Ignore things that need editing in these screenies–sometimes I don’t necessarily follow suggestions at once…

At the top of every page is this guide that’s helped me with the color-coded comments:

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This is one of my favorites:

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(The yellow part. I laughed until I cried with that one.)

This is hard. I have to skip so many quotes I really want to share because of major spoilers.

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And she raises points I might not have thought of while writing:

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(in case you’re wondering, no, he isn’t drunk and driving! :D)

Writing is a really hard job. You need great friends to keep you going, and believe me, I would not have made it this far if it weren’t for her. It started out as an emergency HELP I NEED CRITIQUE ON 5 CHAPTERS thing. And those five chapters became a huge project.

If it weren’t for friends like her, I’d have gone back to rewriting an eleventh time. Sometimes you just need guidance.

I’ll leave you with this gem–

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I really wish I could share all of them. Oh well.

THANKS, HEATHER! :)

Dialect in Dialogue by S.J. Garland


Recently I reviewed a historical fiction book by S.J. Garland, and it completely drew me in. One element that stood out most was her use of Scottish dialect, so I asked if she’d write a post about it. Dialect is an interesting technique I hope to try some day.

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find book review of Scotch Rising here

For an author, especially a debut author such as myself, the decision to write a form of Scots dialect into my dialogue was agonizing. I had to decide if the inclusion of all the aye’s and nays would give the text authenticity and therefore help build the narrative tension. Or if it would be cumbersome and make the reader set the book down and walk away without finishing. There are two ways an author can add a touch of dialect to their work, either by stating at the beginning of the characters speech something like: …he replied with a heavy Scottish brogue or with the addition of colloquial sayings relevant to their characters time and place. It is especially important in historical fiction to produce a balanced effort.

Historical fiction is all about setting the mood, getting the reader hooked at the beginning of the story and building enough tension they believe the narrative. The first way to add dialect into dialogue is by stating a character has a particular brogue or accent before they speak, giving the reader a signal to imagine how the character might sound. This choice also ensures the reader will not stumble over complicated sentences with misspelled words and hyphens. However in my opinion it is the weaker of the option, as it means the author must repeat the same signal many times in the text in order to keep the dialect moving.

The second alternative of writing the dialect into the dialogue gives readers the opportunity to experience the flavour of the character in an intimate way. Historical fiction is only one genre that can benefit from the use of direct dialogue. The key to being successful as an author using this method is to find the balance between realism and rambling gibberish. In my own work, Scotch Rising, readers found the addition of the Scots brogue into the narrative a good addition, although a couple of sentences had some people stumped. Writing is all about the learning process and I have toned the brogue down in places for the sequel Pretender at the Gate.

As my work is historical fiction, I spent time researching the words and phrases used by Scots during the time period. I narrowed my research to a Scots poet named Robert Fergusson, and used his poem Auld Reekie as the basis for my dialect. There is a copy available on the Internet at this address, which includes translations for the Gaelic words. With Auld Reekie as my basis, I chose a number of words I could integrate into my dialogue with the result the reader would be able to decipher the meaning after reading the whole sentence. In most cases it worked out well.

The experiment of using dialect in dialogue was rewarding, and it helped me grow as a writer. I will definitely continue to use it in my future work.

Guest Post: How TV Shows Can Help You Plot Your Novel


by Alexa Skrywer

Yup, you read that title correctly. TV shows – and I’m talking the real ones, the epic ones, not the Disney ones – can help immensely with plotting out your novel.

Yeah, go ahead and laugh. I promise I won’t be offended. Finished now? Great.

I’m going to use Supernatural as an example, because that’s a show I’ve just started watching (Yes, I know I’m way behind) and I really like the character arcs.

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If you haven’t seen it, Supernatural is the story of two brothers raised by their father to fight all manner of supernatural creatures. The series also holds a bit of a detective edge since they have to figure out what sort of monster is haunting the area before they can kill it, and because, amidst all this, Dean (older brother) and Sam (younger brother), are also searching for their aforementioned missing father.

Yeah. These poor boys have a lot on their plate.

As a huge fantasy nut, I love the action in this series. There’s a new monster almost every show – from shapeshifters to the Grim Reaper – and Sam and Dean are totally boss when fighting them.

But what I love even more than the action, is the emotion of the story, the beautiful character arcs and the bond between the brothers. How they’re constantly killing evil spirits for normal citizens, all while battling the demons of their own pasts. I love how Sam takes care of Dean and Dean takes care of Sam and how, even though they have their share of arguments, they’re always there for each other.

Ahem. I’ll stop fangirling now.

On to how this can help with writing: The overall story is that of two monster-hunting brothers searching for their father. But, as I said above, there are supernaturals, too, new ones nearly every show. These create a host of mini-plotlines, keeping the action moving as our boys travel cross country, looking for their dad and learning to relate to each other.

And those mini-plotlines are exactly what we need in our novels. You have the overall plot “Character wants this and decides to do this to get it,” and then the little obstacles and helps along the way – the little tidbits you slip into the story, arresting the reader’s attention, while building up to the final climax (which I haven’t seen in Supernatural yet, so don’t spoil it for me if you know).

The obstacles/helps can come in the form of people (in one episode, Sam and Dean find an old friend of their father’s, and she helps them with a case) or difficult situations (…every single episode, but anyway). Sometimes, the smaller plotlines end during the story; they’re wrapped up in a pretty little bow and then we move on. Other times, they open fresh nuances in the overall plot, for instance the end of the very first episode and a certain discovery about Sam in the fifth. Both of them revealed more about the relationships of the characters, kept the story moving, and built carefully on the leaning tower that is every story, leaving me riveted, breathless, and desperate for more.

Which, of course, is the very feeling I want to inflict on some poor reader someday.

People always say the best way to master something is to study it, learn from the greats (practice, too, but we’re not talking about that today). So the next time someone accuses you of watching too much TV, laugh, roll your eyes like they simply do not understand, and inform them in the kindest way possible that you’re conducting writing research.

I’m an aspiring author and beginning blogger. Find me weekly here.

THE GODDESS TEST by Aimee Carter


*SPOILER WARNING.

So there are a lot of ‘fresh takes’ on Greek myths. I like Cassandra Clare but she wouldn’t be the first author I like to promote a fictional book about Greek mythology that’s just way overrated. I didn’t really expect much when I bought this book, but I was giving it a shot. Hopefully, some good books had been published since I was last an avid reader–and, thank goodness, this time I lucked out. The Goddess Test was an enjoyable read and really helped bring me back into happy reader mindset. I’d been writing for so long that I forgot what a good book was like.

Granted it took me a few weeks to go past the first chapter, though I blame this on the simple fact that I wasn’t that good at being a reader when I picked it up. That, and the prologue was a little hard to grasp; it wasn’t confusing persay but the characters were very difficult to relate to. I couldn’t picture them or what was going on. Maybe it’ll be different when I go back to read it again, but it did take me quite a while to make it past the prologue. Once I actually did I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I liked the main character. She isn’t a crybaby and she isn’t a damsel in distress. She’s just a normal girl pulled into a weird story. I think she might have believed everything a little too fast, but that’s just my opinion, I’m used to writing long and heavily detailed stories after all. Maybe it was longer as a first draft but to get published they made the author speed it up? Anyway, overlooking that she believed a little quickly for my taste, the rest of her was believable–right down to her emotions. Aimee Carter nailed it with this character, I liked her immediately.

Henry is sweet at times but I think it might be the way he speaks, a little bit forced, that made it difficult for me to visualize him. He is a powerful character and I like him, but I think he is ironically the rustiest character in the book, description-wise. There’s just something forced about him, though once again, it might get better when I read it a second time. It’s really no big deal and doesn’t take much from the story.

The romance isn’t too cheesy, nor is it dirty–when they do slip once, I appreciated that the author didn’t make it look like a good thing. No, slipping into the sin of lust was a very bad thing here, and it almost had grave consequences. Also it wasn’t really their faults either, but I won’t get into a deep discussion of what happened. Just know that it isn’t described, you don’t have to worry about your eyes falling out or even having to skip a page. I love the author forever for this and if she lets me down regarding this in the next books…I might burn them… It’s just refreshing to be able to dream without closing your eyes! Aimee Carter, don’t ruin this!

The world building and storyline was amazing. I like how she described locations. Even if I occasionally had trouble picturing a character, I never struggled with a scene. Great detail was put into location! The escapist in me approves. You can bet that I look forward to buying and reading the next books. I hope they live up to this one, it would be difficult but if they do, I have a new favorite author! Definitely give this book a try, it is worth your time!

PARIS, MY SWEET by Amy Thomas


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Complete with a cover that’s pure eye candy (I must admit that the cover is why I first bought it,) this little memoir is vivid. Amy Thomas painted the city and people in it so I could feel a breeze on my face, or smell the Nutella crepe that she described with such enthusiasm.

It also opened my eyes to a truth we often forget: There is such a thing as adventure in the world. Often, you just have to venture far in order to find it–and we like our comfort zones too much. We deny this, and complain later about how our lives are so boring. Stories appear out of nowhere like wisps of smoke (or in this case, the warm steam of perfect hot chocolate,) but you won’t see them unless you’re looking. Give something up, and only then will your heart be light enough to travel.

Amy did, indeed, sacrifice much to go on her adventure to Paris; with all its bubbly cheer, the book tells us she went through nostalgia and loneliness. Missing her family, having very few friends, regret–there’s always going to be that glance over your shoulder, hesitation to close the door behind you. I appreciate the author mentioning these very human emotions, so I could better relate.

Her writing style is conversational and easy to follow, at times resembling a blog post (after all, she is a blogger.) Inserting the words in French here and there gave it just the right dash of color, not so blinding that you could not see, but bold enough that you wanted to look. The cultures and how they differ were painted well, a plus for those of us who have never been there. Certainly, every person’s impression of Paris will be different,. That’s what books are for–to take us there.

There were only a few downsides, and they don’t even really count as such. In the blurbs where Amy recommended restaurants in Paris and New York, I felt a little resentful reading them and knowing I’ll probably never get to visit (the key word here being probably.) Also, the ending was rather abrupt–for some reason, it took me a few seconds to realize I was staring at the last paragraph. Somehow she managed to make the ending not an ending, in a good way–after the initial shock had faded, I realized the last chapter left us on an optimistic high.

I am very pleased with this book, and how she took me with her to Paris, describing her adventure in a very warm and personal manner. It made me excited for life, and hopefully someday I can experience the City of Light as well.

meeting Faith


Yesterday I met Faith, a lovely fellow blogger who has been my pen pal for years. I have a drawer full of snail mail letters, and we’ve known each other for a long time, but even though we live in the same state–we’d never met before!

We went to a Starbucks at the grocery store and talked about things that it usually takes a writer to understand. I think the person at the table next to us was giving us strange looks. Editing was a dominant topic, then bad books and Rick Riordan, and I think we talked about characters cussing and hair dying…it was epic and totally random.

Every time I meet a friend who’s also a writer, I notice how different we are. We see the world in a deeper way; those doors to the unknown? We’ll go to all lengths to open them.

I appreciate my other friends who don’t write as well, but…it’s just different. They wouldn’t care about a lot of this stuff. They’d probably get bored hearing me go into a rant about my novel. Which is okay–when I say rant, I mean it. I can go on and on, then feel bad because I’m doing all the talking and the listener is too nice to admit I’m boring them.

If you can sit down, listen, and actually be interested–then you’re just awesome.

It’s a blessing to be able to meet all these people. I definitely have some of the greatest friends!

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