When Characters Take the Reins

The Argument

The Argument

I’m a plotter. I have been since day one as an author. All the books I’ve written have been plotted, sometimes for years, so when I sat down to write it was all right there and flowed like wine downhill.

All except for one book.

One book in particular has been the bane of my existence ever since I began to write it over three years ago. The book is my Regency, To Woo a Wicked Widow, and it has led me a merry chase just to get it written down. Because every time I stared to write it, the characters would go absolutely crazy. Insisting they do this, not wanting to do that. Three of the main characters simply dug their heels in and said, “No. I don’t want to do that. And you can’t make me.”

And unfortunately, they were right.

Every time I tried to steer the plot or the character’s actions in a certain way, it came out stilted, or weird sounding, or didn’t make sense for them to be doing it. The hero insisted on a love scene in the library when it was not supposed to be there according to the outline. The heroine became too headstrong and made one beta reader dislike her intensely. And the bad guy kept finding ways to be likeable despite my instructions to the contrary.

As I said earlier, I am a plotter. But in this book, I came as close as I ever hope to be to being a pantser. It was extremely frightening to me to have the reins of the book jerked out of my hands and someone else calling the shots. Perhaps that is why I am still not satisfied with the end product of it. I’ve flipped the whole premise of the book around, I’ve managed to make the hero more heroic and the villain as dastardly as I possibly can. And I think readers will now sympathize with the heroine’s plight.

It still, however, doesn’t seem to be quite complete or jelled into the story I envisioned from the beginning. I suppose fighting with my characters, like fighting with a cast in a theatrical production, is bad for morale. I think the little voice in my head will prevail, but it is very difficult to make characters do your bidding if they don’t want to.

The only thing I’ve found that works is compromise. Take some of the good things they insist on doing and blend them with things that will accomplish the goals of the work as you see them. This is where I’m heading with my latest revision and (cross your fingers) it seems to be working!

Wish me luck!

Posted in Jenna Jaxon, Writing Advice | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

The Weirdness of Editing A Book by Susan Hanniford Crowley

What is weird about editing?  It’s the funny things authors do that they hope their editors catch and readers never see.  Before my editor sees my novel, I go over it with a fine tooth comb. Here’s are some of the tougher things I’m looking for:

  1. Love scenes. I have to make sure there are the right number of arms and legs. I know that seems odd, but in the past, my scenes have been so exuberant that I lost track of what went where, resulting in multiple limbs.
  2. Disappearing clothes. When my vampires make their clothes vanish, I have to make sure they’re dressed again before going out in public. I know this is a quirk particular to my books. Every book has something unique to it.
  3. Words. Every word must count to show the character in fear, passion, doubt, and strength. The words a character uses are a kind of self-portrait.

Though there is more to editing, I will be looking throughout my book at these three things first to bring out the heart and soul of the story my characters live.

There will be more to come.

Susan Hanniford Crowley, Amazon Kindle Bestselling Author of Vampire Romance
Where love burns eternal and whispers in the dark!
Vampire King of New York available at Amazon Kindle and print, Barnes and Noble Nook and print and in Kobo
A Vampire for Christmas in Kindle

Posted in Characters, Emotions, Love/Sex Scenes, Max Vander Meer, Norse, paranormal, paranormal romance, romance, romance novels, Susan Hanniford Crowley, The Stormy Love Life of Laura Cordelais, vampire books, Vampire David Hilliard, Vampire King of New York, Vampire King of New York In Print, Vampire Maximillion Vander Meer, vampires, Viking, Writing Craft, Writing Topics, Yule | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The End of Summer by Stacy Hoff

summer pic

In just a few days my kids will be back to school. My brief time off with them over, as I go back to work. I hate the end of summer.

At least I can look back on July and August fondly. I had some fun. And I got a whole lot of writing work done, too. Don’t believe me? Check-out my “done” list:

  • attended RWA’s national conference in New York City
  • finished a manuscript
  • finished yet another manuscript
  • traveled to New York state to research some scenes in one of these two manuscripts
  • met new author friends
  • kept on top of my blog posts and social media
  • brainstormed some new ideas for upcoming novels

I even spent some quality time with the kids. Check out the photo of the idyllic spot in New England where we went hiking.

Wow. That’s a lot! Maybe I need a vacation from my “vacation.” I’ll try to fight the urge to fire up my laptop while I drink my last glasses of lemonade.

What did you do this summer?


Find Stacy on Social Media: http://www.facebook.com/authorStacyHoff Twitter: twitter.com/authorStacyHoff Web: http://www.stacyhoff.com https://www.pinterest.com/authorstacyhoff/


AMAZON LINK FOR LAWFULLY YOURS: http://www.amazon.com/Lawfully-Yours-Stacy-Hoff-ebook/dp/B00U7U2WCC/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1425508177&sr=8-2&keywords=book+-+lawfully+yours


AMAZON LINK FOR DESIRE IN THE EVERGLADES: http://www.amazon.com/Desire-Everglades-Stacy-Hoff-ebook/dp/B00NFSMCYG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1410289138&sr=8-1&keywords=desire+in+the+everglades.

Sol cover new

AMAZON LINK FOR SEASON OF LOVE: http://www.amazon.com/Season-Love-Box-Merry-Holly-ebook/dp/B00X3ZAR3E/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1431122019&sr=8-1&keywords=Season+of+love+-+stacy+hoff


Photo copyright Stacy Hoff 2015. All rights reserved.


Posted in RWA, Stacy Hoff, Writer's Life, writing research | Tagged | 2 Comments

Social Media Mixer by Heather Novak

According to the highly educational and never incorrect* website known as Wikipedia, a “cocktail party mixer” is defined as:

A cocktail party organized for purposes of social or business networking is called a mixer.


That sounds a lot like what social media is…one, giant, malignant, cocktail mixer. What does that mean for you, especially if you’re using your page as an author/for a business? It means you should treat your social media page like a cocktail party. Same etiquette rules apply.

Heather, what are these rules you speak about?

According to Etiquette International, my favorite cocktail party rules are as follows:

Keep conversation clean, avoiding any sexual innuendos. Excessive flirting is not appropriate, especially at a business-related affair. Also, steer clear of taboo topics like dieting, health (yours or theirs), the cost of anything, malicious gossip (yes, you do know when it’s malicious), religion and politics.

Don’t fill your plate to overflowing. People seldom notice you going back for seconds at large cocktail functions; they will notice the mountainous heap on your plate. And, claiming it’s for the table sounds like an excuse, not the truth. A pertinent example comes to mind: while on a three-day promotional cruise several years ago, a businessman reached for a cookie on a large silver tray heaped with a generous assortment when a woman yelled to him not to touch; the cookies were all hers. The businessman remembered her months later when she tried to solicit his firm’s business.

Let’s pull both of these examples apart and discuss how they apply to your social media presence. Because right now, I can tell you’re pulling away thinking I’m a crazy person. My therapist says I’m not “crazy,” I’m “creative.” We’ll go with that.

Social media is like the damp towel in the corner that is super soft and fluffy but starts to smell and acquire bugs after a few days. How do you keep that towel soft and fluffy? By keeping it clean and taking care of it.

As an author, I have a brand to uphold. While I want to comment on everything I feel strongly about — politics, violent current events, race issues, women issues, how dumb Kanye is (no, really, I can’t help myself), I can’t post about everything. Nor should I. So what do I post about? 

1) Things that make me relatable – fun with friends, generalized family stories, hilarious stories, one-liners.
2) Subjects that relate to my books
3) Reviews on something I bought/read/listened to/saw
4) The weather
5) Playoff sports (come on, friends! I’m a Red Wings girl.)

For instance, in my story Hunting Witch Hazel, I have a gay couple who help at Billy’s Blues and BBQ. I’m a HUGE support of equal rights for all genders and sexual orientations. Therefore, I will sometimes share posts related to diversity. Because, quite frankly, if you don’t like me posting about equal rights, you won’t like my books. That’s part of my branding.

What I chose, with difficultly, not to post about are my opinions on things like $15 minimum wage and the upcoming election, for the most part (it’s an ongoing struggle). I discuss these topics offline with my trusted friends. Why? Because my social media sites are part of my business personality. If I won’t talk about it at work, I won’t talk about it on Facebook. (But sometimes I can’t help myself…)

That party I went to last weekend where the bachelorette got an extra spicy surprise? Not going on my twitter, sorry folks. Me in a bikini? BAHAHAHA. No one is seeing that. Anything I don’t want my bosses to see, I don’t put social media.

My latest movie review? That IS going on social media. So are fun life events and books I’m currently reading. Book club outings? Hell yeah. These draw readers in and make them feel like they know you.

What about health issues? This, I find, is a fine line to walk. I recently announced on my social media sites that book two in The Lynch Brothers Series, When It Raines, has been pushed to late fall due to health issues.

This was an important announcement to make so my readers know where we stand. I’ve heard so many complaints from readers about how an author they love disappeared! Readers are what keep writers published. Be upfront and honest, but respectful all at the same time. 

Things I NEVER talk about: 
– Anything personal about my boss/job
– Anything specific/confidential about my job
– Complaints about my day job 
– Personal attacks
– Financial information

It’s all about protecting your image while being yourself. One wrong post can ruin your career. Don’t believe me? Read about these unfortunate tweets! And who can forget Justine Sacco?

If you’re not sure if you should put it on social media, don’t. Once it’s on the internet, someone is bound to scoop it up when you least expect it…

Did you know August 27 is known for:

  • Global Forgiveness Day
  • Just Because Day


Oh yeah…I totally believe in global forgiveness…

Wishing You Laughter & Good Books,
Heather Novak
Bold. Bewitching. Breathtaking. 

Find me at:
Twitter: authorheathern
Facebook: authorheathernovak
Website: Heathernovak.net

Author of Hunting Witch Hazel featured in Falling Hard (A New Adult Anthology).

Heather 2D FallingHardAnthology_2500px

Hunting Witch Hazel Trailer

Available Now!
Amazon U.S.
Amazon UK


Posted in romance | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Our Personal Hamster Wheel

We are going through a transformation at my day job. I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned that before but in case you’ve missed it, there you have it. The purpose of this transformation is to help us specialize further in helping our clients and on a broader scale, stay competitive with our clients.

Despite all the changes this year (in my day job and outside of it), I have to say that this year has been one of the best when it comes to progress and learning. I have had more “threats” to my little safe bubble of a world (we all live in some bubble to a degree whether we want to admit it or not) and yet for the first time in years I can feel myself growing in knowledge, understanding, maturity… I can keep going. Admittedly, all this learning hasn’t been fun, but I wanted change it.

So what does this all have to do with a hamster wheel? Seeing as I personally have grown this year, I can’t help but look back at the past couple years as years on a hamster’s wheel. I was working harder, not smarter. I was hitting walls but couldn’t necessarily see the right path in front of me. Simply put, I felt lost. And while I don’t claim to know all the answers now (certainly not!), I do feel like I have a few new paths to try, I can see where I’ve made mistakes (and noticed trends on them) and I’m confident I can move forward. Honestly, it feels really great.

What about you all? Ever been stuck in the hamster’s wheel? What did you do to get out of it?

Happy writing this week!

Posted in A writer's life, Toni Kelly | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Taming The Monster Box Set by Mandy Rosko

I am so excited for this I can hardly contain myself, and when I’m on the tail end of a cold, that might not look like a lot, but trust me that it is :D

This time last year I was in my very first box set Captured, and this year I will be in my third, Taming the Monster with 17 super awesome authors who were really nice to have me along when I asked to join the group :3 So, naturally, because I don’t have a very big organic reach, I have to post these cool pics wherever I can now that this baby is up for pre-order for 99 cents ;) Oh yeah, here’s the hashtag for anyone wanting to help out with this super cool project on Twitter: #TTMonster


There are 17 brand new stories in this box set, many by NYT and USAToday Bestsellers like Mandy Roth, Michelle Pillow, Carina Wilder, Christina Rayne and many more!!

See why I’m so excited?

Also, look at those claws! I love that image :) If you look carefully on the cover, you can see that the man the heroine is holding onto has a tentacle monster tattoo on his back, and it seems to be coming alive O.o The one I got up on my website‘s got the tentacle monster around the box set, and maybe I should’ve showed that one here, but so far the two images are switching between favorites. Here are the links if anyone wants to check out the set while it’s still on sale, or if you could just share the pages on your social media, that would be awesomesauce, too :D

Amazon: goo.gl/i04fHH

Nook: goo.gl/Qm84S7

Kobo: goo.gl/pLOFwU

iBooks: https://goo.gl/RlngGj

Basically, until the release of this set on Oct 13, my posts will be all about how cool this box set is. For those of you following my Dangerous Creatures series and are impatient for the next installment, my story included is a novella set in that world.

Here’s the blurb:

Mina Swanson is a hunter, charged with defending the weak and helpless against the monsters of the world, but she and her partners will be on the lunch menu for a pack of wild werewolves if something doesn’t happen, like, right now!

Just as she’s being stuck over a bonfire to become barbecue, an old flame (the kind that won’t cook her alive) rushes to her rescue. Gabriel. The man she thought had been killed by werewolves. He’s back. He’s alive.

And he’s an alpha.

Gabriel Lyall lived through hell when he was changed. Forced to do things in order to survive that will haunt him forever, he thought Mina, the love of his life, would rather he had died than come back as the man he is now. He has no choice though, it’s either stop the wild pack and reveal himself, or leave her to die, and the second one isn’t even close to being an option.

Now she’s in his pack, and he needs to convince a couple of hunters that with the right guidance, werewolves can have control, that they can live peacefully away from the humans. She and her friends cannot leave until he’s satisfied they believe him, though he doesn’t want to let Mina go at all.

Here are the links once again for anyone interested in supporting this box set :) I’ll have to wait for permission, but I’ll see about getting blurbs to post every week until release :)



Amazon: goo.gl/i04fHH

Nook: goo.gl/Qm84S7

Kobo: goo.gl/pLOFwU

iBooks: https://goo.gl/RlngGj

Posted in romance | 2 Comments

It’s A Downpour Paranormal-Scope

Life is about to downpour on all of us. Do you have an umbrella?

While I am not qualified in any way to read neither stars nor planets, I am intimately linked to the paranormal in the world in many ways. So are you.

The paranormal-scope is for entertainment purposes only and is not meant to guide your life by.

The week for:

Elves duck for cover under broad leaves. Time to make your home cozy to withstand any storm in comfort.

When there’s a downpour of opportunities, goblins evaluate the pros and cons. Do the same.

Dragons love a downpour. It’s time for great home cooking. Gazing out at the rain slows everything down, which is good for you.

Vampires find the rain soothes them and helps them forget the hurts of the past. Let the past wash away. It’s holding you down.

Mermaids float just below the surface to watch the pattern the rain leaves. Get a new perspective on things before making decisions that matter.

The Faery folk dance in the rain. Do you? Free your heart to adventure this week!

Shapeshifters carry umbrellas knowing that a downpour can be good, bad or just a cleansing. They prepare for trouble and are pleasantly surprised.

Downpours clean the dirt off of houses and cars. Isn’t that handy! Hobbits look at downpours as work savers.

Zombies don’t mind a downpour. To them it’s the same as a sunny day. Try to see things in a balanced context.

Werewolves don’t like even a drizzle. It’s time to shake all the negative off and focus on the positive.

A downpour of great things are coming your well. Werebunnies hold their umbrellas down to catch all the good luck.

Downpours and mummies don’t mix. Plan a vacation where it’s dry and warm.

Susan Hanniford Crowley, Amazon Kindle Bestselling Author of Vampire Romance
Where love burns eternal and whispers in the dark!
Vampire King of New York available at Amazon Kindle and print, Barnes and Noble Nook and print and in Kobo
A Vampire for Christmas in Kindle

Posted in A Vampire for Christmas, Max Vander Meer, Norse, paranormal, paranormal romance, romance, romance novels, Susan Hanniford Crowley, The Stormy Love Life of Laura Cordelais, vampire books, Vampire David Hilliard, Vampire King of New York, Vampire King of New York In Print, Vampire Maximillion Vander Meer, vampires, Viking, Weekly Paranormal-Scope, Yule | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment