Tuesday, March 22, 2011


I just want to say a huge THANK YOU to those guest bloggers who participated in Bloggerific last week. You are wonderful and we are so grateful to you for letting us pick at your brains :)
For those of you who have commented...thanks so much. And if you still haven't had the chance to take a look at the posts, please scoot on over and have a read. You won't regret it!

Hopefully we get to do this again. I'd like to know what you liked about it. Or if you didn't like it. What you think could have been done better?

Email me: reevera@ymail.com

Happy Writing!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

In The Shadows--by Julieanne Lynch

Exciting news everyone! One of our fellow writers has gotten her book In The Shadows published!
I would like to give a shout out to this amazing author and say CONGRATULATIONS!!!

In the Shadows
by Julieanne Lynch

So show some support y'all and buy her book!

You can get it on Amazon or on Smashwords.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Bloggerific: CHERRI ANDERSON--Playlists and Trailers

Lately I've been noticing a lot more authors--both published and unpublished--making playlists and trailers that go along with their novels. I've also seen a few commercials for books. Can you believe it?

Sometimes when we write, we write to music playing in the background. There's always that one song, or that one genre of music that gets you in the mood to write. Or in the mood to write a certain scene. It's what comes to mind when we go back and re-read what we got down. A playlist of those songs, the ones you wrote to, can get the reader a deeper feel of the emotion behind the words. Other times playlists are used to create a feel for the book as a whole. The mood of the entire story and not just one particular scene. I've seen this done more with fantasy novels. And if done right...it works. I feel more of a connection with the characters, their stories, etc...

The only way I can think to explain this is, well, take movies for example. There's almost always music playing in the background. It doesn't matter if the scene is full of action or drama...or if the actors are simply talking. You might not notice it, but the music is there, giving the film a certain feel. A theme. And when you hear that song somewhere else--it takes your mind to that film. That's what you want. You want your readers to hear a song from your playlist and BOOM! They're thinking about your book, your characters.

I think trailers are gaining in popularity because of the visual aspect to it. When you read, it's up to your mind to picture the places, the characters, along with everything else. Sure the author helps with descriptions (and if they are good ones, they can do wonders) but a lot of it is really up to you. This is why I love reading. I like having the choices. There are some, however, who don't. These are the ones whom would be better served with a little teaser....trailer style!

You can make it as detailed or as vague as you want. It's really up to you and how much you want to leave up to your readers' imaginations.

So what do you think? Are playlists and trailers too much? Or do you have some of your own?



Cherri Anderson is new to the blogging world and will be starting up her own MUSIC MADNESS blog soon. Links to this will be posted once it's up and running.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Bloggerific: JOYCE PAULL LANSKY--Finding Your Trademark Character

Kurt Vonnegut introduced us to Diana Moon Glampers—the ugliest, stupidest, and meanest women on Earth—who often made cameo appearances in several of his novels. In “God Bless You Mr. Rosewater,” Vonnegut writes:
The client who was about to make Eliot's black telephone ring was a sixty-eight-year-old virgin who, by almost anybody's standards, was too dumb to live. Her name was Diana Moon Glampers. No one had ever loved her. There was no reason why anyone should. She was ugly, stupid, and boring. On the rare occasions when she had to introduce herself, she always said her full name, and followed that with the mystifying equation that had thrust her into life so pointlessly:

"My mother was a Moon. My father was a Glampers."

My favorite role of Diana’s was as the button pushing general who would scramble the thoughts of intelligent people by causing plane wreck noises in their ears. If you’ve never read Vonnegut’s short story, “Harrison Bergeron,” check it out.

Although I’m no Kurt Vonnegut, I do have a character—or rather a group of characters—who will often make appearances in my books. I’m referring to my fictitious, metallic rock band, Leaf Jet 8. This group acquired their name by me randomly tapping computer keys then shuffling the letters around for a name that grabbed me. I’ve found success with this technique many times.

I delight in putting the band into each of my books, whether it’s something as mild as a song on the radio or as the main character’s girlfriend’s infatuation making her run off with lead singer Dallas Quinton. I’ve also had a good old time making up song titles to fit various scenes. Among the band’s greatest hits is Jenna’s Jugular, which was named after the lead singer’s ex-girlfriend Jenna who dumped him for a woman. Other hits include The Hellivator and Hold Up Baby.

Leaf Jet 8 may never make it onto a real stage, but they provide hours of entertainment as I enjoy cameo appearances coming to a radio near you. So what repeatedly pops into each of your stories?


Catch My Words is the blog of Joyce Paull Lansky, where she talks about her thoughts on writing and life. Stop by and have a read, it is definitely worth following!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Bloggerific: MADELAINE BAUMAN--Outlining

I’ve heard people say outlining works for them, and I’ve heard a few people say it kills the creativity. But why is that? Like writers have different styles and writing habits, they also have different ways of outlining their works, getting the notes down on paper so that the ideas don’t fade away.

Today, I’m going to tell you three different ways to outline.

1) The Bare Bones Method

What I call the “Bare Bones Method” is when the story is written down but the concepts are barely or not fleshed out at all.

If you are interested in knowing how to do this method, here’s how I did it:

Title: Chronicles of the North, Book # 1: “Behind the Door of Many Runes”
Genre: Action/Adventure/ Romance
Summary: Follow the tale of Lucille Sari, a young woman who discovers an ancient kingdom with a tragic past behind the Door of Many Runes: Winter’s Heart. On her journey, she is burdened with the revenge of a demon and with an abandoned throne at stake; she must call upon her two wolf guardians, Silver and Akoto, for help.

Was the throne reclaimed or did darkness prevail?


(Story begins with a page in Lucille’s journal. Story then switches to Lucille before the journey.)

Fifteen-year-old Lucille Sari dreamt of an abandoned castle, not knowing she has an inheritance: A sapphire-stone castle far in the Northern Point of the Compass. Mishaps bring her to ruin of a castle. Her guardian, Akoto, a man trapped in wolf form by an ancient spell, had a dark role to play with the destruction of this castle. She is taken to a shrine, where a goddess of the hunt speaks to her about a prophecy.

A few weeks later, on the borderline between the end of the fall equinox and beginning of winter, a red light begins glowing around a ring and is humming. Lucille is warned not to touch the ring, but curiosity beckons her to touch it. It flares with a burst of red flame and Lucille is plunged into a dream (Dream-like vision) and learns the catastrophic history of the North…

And so on and so forth. As Donald Maass says in his novel, Writing the Breakout Novel: “The best outlines relate the whole story in miniature, and include scraps of setting detail, characterization and dialogue, which nicely highlight the story’s turning points. Outlines are most effective when they are in the present tense and third person, regardless of the tense and person of the novel.” (pg 253)

2) The Script Method

If you break your novel up into a script-like format what would it look like? Probably a little something like this:

Chapter 1: An Unfortunate Case

Scene 1

Present Day (late afternoon)

Judy, a cop in her late thirties, is looking over the body of a murdered teenager. The teenager is her own daughter. The daughter is wearing a bloodied black hoodie and there is a large gash in her stomach. She is naked below the waist. Judy remembers the last words she and her daughter exchanged.

Flashback (night before):

Judy is sitting at the kitchen table, dressed in a robe. Her daughter comes down the stairs, dressed in that same hoodie and a pair of jeans. She tells Judy she will be home late. Used to her daughter’s late studying nights, Judy thinks nothing of it, but only says “Be careful.”

Present Day:

Judy turns away from the body and…etc.

This method allows for you to order scenes and keep the novel on track. I haven’t tried this method out, but who knows, it might work for those who are big on organization and for these novels that jump around in time a lot.

3) The Bullet Point Method

The “Bullet Point Method” is fairly simple. This is a method that, for me that has become a lifesaver when planning future scenes and, sometimes, entire chapters. And, simply put it’s a chapter in brief bullet points, similar to the “Bare Bones Method”, but even less specific. It allows for total creativity flow without the feeling that you’re writing the whole story right then and there.

So…what method(s) works for you?


Madelaine Bauman is the author of Hybrid Blood, a current work in progress. Feel free to stop by her BLOG and read some of her other posts, or visit her Facebook PAGE.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Bloggerific: RAVEN CLARK--Why Tension Works

Have you ever read a really great book and found you couldn’t put it down, and then read another, and, although the plot was interesting and the characters engaging, you just didn’t get pulled in as much as the first book? Did you then wonder why the first book sucked you in and kept you wanting to turn the page, and the other did not? If the second book that you couldn’t quite get into had all the elements you normally like—strong plot, a lovable hero, an interesting heroine, a believable villain, and lots of interesting places, but it took forever to push through, chances are, there is a missing element. The missing elements came be summed up in one simple word. Tension.
So, what is tension? What is it about it that keeps you wanting more? Tension is a formation of words put in such a way that it creates anticipation of the next moment, of finding out what will happen next. Whether the hero will kiss the heroine as he leans in, how a listener will react to a joke, or whether the killer will fire the fatal shot after he raises the pistol. It’s the anticipation that keeps you riveted to the page. Without it, the story or scene drags, and no matter how good it is, the scene will be a slower, and thus, a harder read.

So how do you create tension, and moreover, how do you keep it going? Tension, to me, is about three key elements. Word choice, flow, and pace.

1) Word choice: meaning whether words create impact and thus urge us onward.

2) Flow: meaning not only the order of words and how you put them, whether or not the sentences are easy to read and the concept quickly understood, but also the order of events and whether they flow into one another well.

3) Pace: meaning how fast the events move from one to the next.

All three elements are important. If you lose one, the others lose effect. And they must work in harmony. If you choose words that create impact, but there are too many, or the sentence structure is off, it slows the flow and thus drains the tension. If you keep stopping in the middle of a riveting action scene to describe what people are wearing or create casual conversation, you kill the pace, and thus, you drain the tension again. You have to have all three, working together in order to create tension, and, equally important, in order to maintain it.

Here’s a few examples to show you what I mean. Below are two sample snippets. One is just off the top of my head, not a story, just something I wrote for this exercise. The other is a sample from the first book in my Shadowsword Saga, Children of the Dragon. What I’ve done with the first sample is write it twice, once without tension, then once with. With the second example, I’ve given you three paragraphs from the first version of CotD, written quite a while ago, and then followed it with three paragraphs from the current version of the novel, which is how Chapter one of the book starts now.

1) First example: without tension.

The rollercoaster made it’s way along the track and I held on.

“So, what did you think of Mr Cobb’s hairpiece?” Venessa said.

I laughed. “It looked ridiculous. Went right along with the huge glasses he wears every day to class.”

The rollercoaster reached the top of the hill and over we went, screaming at the top of our lungs.

2) Rewritten, with tension.

The roller coaster inched its way along the track. I held on for dear life, my knuckles whitening with every lurch. The car creaked beneath me, absurdly loud in my ears as I squirmed in the seat next to Venessa. The hill loomed ahead of us and I squeezed my eyes shut.

“Venessa, keep talking. Distract me, will you?”

“S-so what did you think of Mr. Cobb’s hair piece?” Her voice shook.

I cracked open one eye. “A hair piece! Is that the best you can come up with!” The steep incline of the track bent to a sharp curve, only a few clicks from the nose of the car. The rollercoaster inched closer. My stomach tightened.

“Well you were the one who wanted to come on this damn thing! Why’d I let you talk me into this!”

The car crested the hill. Knuckles white on the bars in front of me, I glanced down at the ground far below. The people looked so small, the pavement a slab of hard black rock. I swallowed bile.

“I convinced you?” I shrieked. “It was you’re idea, you idiot!”

The car gave an alarming creak under me. I jumped and my eyes snapped straight head. The car jolted to a stop. I couldn’t see the rest of the track, but I could feel the turn coming. The turn, and the massive drop that would bring my stomach into my throat. My heart hammered. I wondered what the hell I’d been thinking getting into this thing. I squeezed the bars so tight my hands hurt. Any second now...

See what happens? You want to read the second one faster. If I did my job, the anticipation of the rollercoaster dropping form that hill is overwhelming, and the need to see it happen, or not, drives you insane. You may even think the car will fall off the track and send our MC, and Vanessa, to their deaths. Even though we know that never happens, and that roller coasters are safe, the fear is there. Just like it is in the two girls. It’s the tension that gives that feeling. Gives the rush.

So what’s wrong with the first one, it lacks tension. I barely let you see the roller coaster and then the girls start talking calmly about the teacher’s wig. They’re calm, so why shouldn’t you be? The conversation drags away from what’s going on at hand, the terrifying ride. It breaks the flow. And not only that but my words in the first one are low impact. They don’t build suspense or make you worry. Lastly, the conversation is so casual that it slows the pace. In the second version, I used words that create impact. “Made its way,” gives little sense of imagery to the car moving along. “inched along the track” creates a feeling of slowness, but in a riveting way, like a long legged bug crawling up a sleeve, or a killer’s knife about to fall. It builds anticipation. I also kept the flow and pace by reminding the reader of the rollercoaster when the girls were talking, with the creek of the car, her hands on the bars, and I built the sense of fear by having her grip it harder. And I made the argument highly charged, thus adding to the tension, rather than draining it. Even though the girls were still talking about the teacher’s hair piece, it was intense, emotional and conveyed fear.

It’s important to understand tension is not necessarily fear, near death, sex or violence. Like action, it doesn’t have to be breakneck intense. It can be an argument, humorous banter, even a crowded street, if done right. As long as there is something interesting going on, and it creates a sense of anticipation, it’s tension.

Here’s the other example, from SHADOWSWORD. Keep in mind, the first version was written along time ago, when I had virtually no idea what I was doing or how to write. I DO NOT, nor would I EVER, write this way now. The second version is a WIP, and a first draft, so it isn’t perfect, but it should convey the point.

1) Old Version – Chapter One: Children of the Dragon.

It was late in the evening. Darkness had found the world of Alkaron many hours before. The soft breezes that blew across the rugged landscapes of Mantheer brought with them the fresh, salty taste of the sea through the open windows of a house called the Dragon’s Den. The house sat at the edge of a dense forest that wended its way into the mountains, the huge snow-capped peaks of the Northern Alps. The front of the house offered a glorious view of the Great Sea, from which could be heard the peaceful, rhythmic sounds of waves gently caressing the shore. The house was far enough from the busy, overcrowded seaside city of Thane that it might have been hundreds of miles from civilization, rather than an hour’s careful ride by horse or donkey.

The Dragon’s Den was home to a couple known as the Meerhans. At least they would have been known by that name if the people in Thane or those in other areas of the Northern Alps knew the couple.

A cozy, single-storey home, the house was perfect for a slightly well-to-do man and wife who were just starting to make a life together. With ceilings that were just high enough to hint at stateliness, the Dragon’s Den had a thatched roof, a set of double doors at the front, and a wide, sanded front porch. The porch was semi-closed in, with a cushioned wooden swing sitting beside the doors. The exterior of the house, sanded and varnished in a fine coat of dark brown paint, offered the look of a home owned by a man who enjoyed the sweat and rhythm of labor. The architecture also indicated the good money the man of the house made working as a house builder.

Are you bored yet? Eyes glossing over? Why is that? Tension, my friends. There is none of it here. Yeah, I know there are other issues, wordiness, no dialogue, passive voice, it’s all describing, all tell instead of show, not to mention, there is NO HOOK.…I know. 4 years ago, remember. I had no idea how to write. Worse, the whole book was like that, or almost. Yuck, I know. Lol. For those of you who know me, you’ve heard me frequently compare myself to Tolkien. Now you see why. It’s very Lord of Long Windedness – I mean Lord of the Rings. Except without the awesomeness of J.RR. For the record, I love LotR and no offense to Tolkien, but boy, does it DRAG. Ok, ready for the other version?

2) Current Chapter One: Children of the Dragon.

Kyas Danshar’s warning rang in Helena’s head. You’ll be murdered. Tonight. Her shiver had little to do with the slight chill in the air. The memory of her encounter with him heated her cheeks. She hated that dragonspawn, hated the lust he brought forth within her, but she couldn’t ignore the dire tone of his words. She pulled the cloak of her healer’s costume tighter and scanned the street for any sign of Michella.

The merriment of the evening felt subdued as crowds filled the streets in celebration of Autumnfest. Every shadow hid a potential threat. A hulking, hooded man pushed his way through the crowd toward her. Helena tensed. He brushed by with a grumble and headed for the smithy where Kyas had left her.

Irritation warred with her fear. Infernal Dragonlord’s got me paranoid. She drew a steadying breath to calm her nerves. Heightened emotions posed greater danger than any weapon now. She had to stay calm.

Ok, like I said, it isn’t perfect, but see how much better that is? Lots of tension. Yeah, there is a huge hook at the start, and it’s active tone rather than passive, showing not telling…right, but if I had used weaker words, or too many, or kept breaking up the flow with huge descriptions like the other version, the hook and active tone, and even the showing, wouldn’t matter.

Take for example, the first line of CotD current opener. If I had used a low impact statement for the first line like this. “Helena heard Kyas’ Danshar’s words in her head,” versus, “Kyas Danshar’s warning rang in Helena’s head,” the first line would not pull the reader in. The low impact and high impact words are in blue. Yes, the next line in the current write (You’ll be murdered) is a hook, but every moment, every word counts in the opener of a book. Readers cannot be given a moment to consider whether they should read on.

Or take the second paragraph. If I had started heavily describing what Helena was wearing, instead of describing the city with quick, impacting strokes and using words that create foreboding imagery, you would lose interest. Every word I use counts (or I hope it does), and the paragraphs flow, and after the brief description, its back to the actions and Helena, what’s happening to the MC.

So, the first paragraph creates immediate impact with the wording, and builds anticipation of what will happen. The second sets the scene, but quickly, and with words that still carry the impact even when there is no actions or dialogue. I have a good pace and flow in addition to the force of the words. Yes, it is still description, but readers care a lot more about where she is and why than what she is wearing, which again goes to pace. And the big key is, it’s BRIEF. Any longer, or with lower impact words, and it would have turned static. And each paragraph flows from one to the next, with no words or time wasted, no distractions. Word choice, flow, and pace. See?

Yes, there are other factors. If you use powerful wording, have a good flow to your events and sentence structure, and a good pace, but your characters are flat and the plot cliché or boring, the tension will feel like a cheap hook. Readers will read on for only so long before they feel conned. On the other hand, if you have interesting characters, engaging events and a good plot, but you have no tension, the other elements mean nothing, because it slows the story. Tension is what holds all the other stuff together.

So why does tension work? In short, a good story makes us interested, makes us want to read, but tension is what keeps us riveted, and makes us want to read on.

Thank you for inviting me to blog here, Ree. This was fun to write. It’s been a blast. Any time you want me to do this again, let me know!


Raven Clark is the author of Shadowsword: Children of the Dragon, a current work in progress. Feel free to visit her own BLOG and read more posts from her, or visit her FB PAGE!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Critique Buddies and Beta Readers

Is there a difference?

You're darn tootin' there is. Don't worry...until a few months ago, I didn't know it either. Heck--I had no idea what a Beta was. I thought it had something to do with sororities :) Go figure. So for those of you who might not know, I'm going to give a brief definition.

Beta Reader:  Someone who will read your writing with a critical eye.
Critique Buddy: They read, they comment...you need these people too!

Until recently, I didn't have a Beta Reader. I was part of a writing community and I posted some stuff there. I got a boatload of comments (all different kinds) and that's what I thought good critique was. I mean, a lot of them were quite in depth and they were from some pretty amazing writers. So that's good enough, right?


Let's start with Critique Buddies. There are all kinds but I've narrowed them down to a few categories.

Ha ha, we all know these. We've probably even been these. The ones who leave all the 'LOL's  and :)'s and OMG's! *see also: yay! wow! good job! so good!* And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. In fact, I love these types of comments because they are the exact reactions I want to get from future readers when my book hits shelves. I want them to get giddy with excitement over a character, or a scene (the entire book). You know how there is no such thing as a stupid question? Well, there is no such thing as a lame comment.
No, they're not detailed. They don't help you fix spelling/grammar errors. But they keep your motivation going and you off the ledge when you're feeling a bit blue. They are the ones who boost your confidence when you need it most.

Not the kind you're thinking heh heh. The good kind. These are the ones who were (most often) there from the very beginning. They read your first chapter, horrible as it may have been, and continued to read. They're also the ones who will clog your Twitter, Facebook, and any other page you have with stuff like: "Where is the next chapter?" "Are you writing?" "You'd better be writing!"
They're also the ones who won't take any of your lazy day crap. If you're trying to get away with not writing, or verbose writing that has no place in your story--these are the ppl you want on your team. They don't put up with it :)

They'll comment once in awhile. Maybe correct a few things here and there. Sometimes they even tell you something pretty in depth, but overall--they just read. They're not detail oriented or anything like that, but they area valuable to you because they see your story as the whole it is. Not the bits and pieces. They are your future customers.

And then there are Beta Readers.

A beta is someone who will know your story almost as well as you do. They know what it's about, your characters, and where you are planning on going with it. Being a beta/having a beta is an investment. They invest in you as much as you do them. It takes time and patience. Not everyone can fill this role. If you are a beta, then be an honest one. Even if  you know it might be a little painful for your partner to hear. Honesty is something we as writers really need to have. Especially when it comes to our work.
Also, along with the rough critique they may give sometimes, they take the time to point out the things they love about your work. And believe me, that small :) or 'I thought this was a great line' goes a long way when you're trying to wrap your mind around harsher edits. Lol.

Another blogger very aptly described these as 'toxic' betas. The ones who suck you dry because it tickles them pink. They're the ones who get all defensive when you critique their work, but get pissed off when you don't think their criticism is right. And if you do (lordy forbid) critique their work, they take disgusting amounts of time to point out how you don't know the genre, or the craft, enough to do so.
Bad betas are also ones who will tear your MS apart chapter by chapter without remorse. And then not even offer you the slightest bit of advice as how to fix it.

There is a HUGE difference between: "this needs work" and "you suck"

Do not be a bad beta!!!

So who is not beta material?

Your mother is NOT a beta reader. She is bias. Let's face it. :) She loves you too much.

Your spouse is NOt a beta reader. No matter how much they support you, or say they do--unless they are also a writer, they won't understand. No I'm not dissing those of you who have wonderfully supportive husbands/wives. Supportive is an entirely different concept.

Your best friend is NOT a beta reader. Same as above. They obviously love you and will overlook things to see the good in what you write. Not helpful. Sweet...but not helpful.

So what about y'all? Do you have a beta reader(s)? If so, are they good or bad?
Are you a beta?
Or...do you not have one at all?

Happy Writing!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

FEATURED AUTHOR: Madelaine Bauman

March's featured author is Madelaine Bauman!

Ree Vera:  So glad to have you here! Tell us a little about yourself, Madelaine.

Madelaine:  If I could sum myself up in a sentence, right now, I’d say: Nineteen-year-old aspiring author, the eldest of five kids, and officially crazy.

At least, my family thinks I’m nuts. I like to think it’s a writer thing.

I found my passion for writing at twelve when I wrote a 7-pg fantasy story for class, called Another Place, Another Time which I plan to, someday, expand into a full novel or series. So far, it’s waiting for me to dig it out of my subconscious again after seven years. Since then, writing has become a therapeutic exercise, a place where--out of the chaos of the day--I can find some sort of control and peace.

As far as what I write, I’ve dabbled in, primarily, romantic fantasy; though I’ve also completed an anthology of free verse poetry and an urban romance with vampire hybrids. Sometime in the future, I want to try my hand at writing an epic fantasy, using the Hero‘s Journey template.

Ree Vera:  We all have our style, as writers. So what why should people read your work?

Madelaine:  This is a tough question. I honestly don’t know how to answer this, but I suppose, off the top of my head, the reason why people should read my work is because of reader-character connection. Through my characters, I strive to strike a chord within the readers, make them connect emotionally with the character and the world I’ve put them in and--even if the character isn’t human--make them relatable to the reader as much as possible.

Ree Vera:  What are you currently working on?

Madelaine:  Too much at once. Blogging, taking notes for future projects and ideas, reading and beta- reading for a few close friends, my focus is divided and it can be hard to keep track of what exactly I’m working on at times.

Currently, though, my focus is set on my romantic fantasy trilogy: Hybrid Blood. Draft one of book one, The Key-bearer, has yet to be finished, but I’ve been busy planning the structure of book 2, Falling From Grace and cannot wait to start!

Ree Vera:  Is there a place people can view your writing?

Madelaine:  My writing has been taken off public sites due to publication risks, though, I welcome discussions on writing on my Facebook Page, and have been thinking of posting poetry and a short story or two on there.  Below is an excerpt from an older idea, a possible novella I started, called Stare.

Thank you everyone for taking the time to learn about this incredible author. Please feel free to contact her! She is not just an amazing writer, she is one of the nicest people you'll meet.

Email: madelaineb@ymail.com
Follow her Blog

Stare (Chapter one)

The music pounded from the speakers and I watched her weave through the crowd, a shadow amongst solid bodies. The world was a flash of colors—pink, yellow, red, blue, and green—as the strobe light spun above us. The heady scent of perfume and cologne mixed with sweat as I followed her. "Her" was a statuesque brunette, a dark blue cocktail dress moulded to her curves and black heels on her feet. Curled hair framed a heart-shaped face, intensified a pair of wide blue eyes. She was one of them—a Burn Sister. She was delicious, a beauty—though if you got too close, this young lioness would bare her claws.

She made her way to the bar and snagged a stool. Her lips moved, a slight smile pulling at the corners, but I couldn't hear what was being said. The noise had made me deaf. The bartender poured her a drink—Sex on the Beach, by the look of it—and she tipped him, a sultry look in her eyes. The glass rose, clasped in one hand, to her red voluptuous lips and she tipped it just so, taking a long sip.

I melted into the crowd again, my eyes still watching her. She was keeping her eyes on me. I could feel it, the prickling at the base of my spine, crawling up. A shiver. This Burn Sister wasn't new to the job, she wasn't a novice and she knew it. She was flaunting it—enjoying the way I took the bait like a lovesick pup.

She was clever, but not clever enough. I watched as she threw her head back, laughing at something the bartender had said. Any moment now...

Then, she paused, and fell off the stool. Her glass shattered, booze and hair spilling around her like a halo. I smiled and took my leave as a crowd gathered around the dead girl. As I disappeared thorough the door, and into sharp October air, I could already imagine the distant scream of sirens, feel the chaos as paramedics gathered the woman up and carried her away.

One down, plenty more to go…

I exited the club and walked down the street, the air sour with the scent of rotting leaves. The silence was broken by a barking dog. I stuffed my hands into my pockets, the ring of keys jangling like her bracelets. The sleek black Porsche waiting for me a couple blocks down was hers. While she'd charmed the men and swayed with them across the floor, I had slipped my hand into her purse and stolen them. Earlier, I had seen her drive up to the curb, some obscure pop music slithering from the radio. Then, in silence, she slid out; graceful and poised, her earrings glittering in the yellow streetlight. She was paid well, this Burn Sister, and I'm sure she'd also had her fair share of men—been their trophy around the high and mighty, then got down on her knees in the privacy of a hotel room.

"And now she'll be a memory." I unlocked the Porsche and got inside, admiring the chic leather, breathing in deep the thick scent of female pheromones and expensive perfume. As the car purred to life, I allowed myself a moment of silence—not for the woman, not for what I'd done out of the goodness of my black heart, but for her nice ride.

Then I burned rubber, feeling the adrenaline flow, laughing as the tires screeched. If I had used a knife, or a gun—allowed her to see the smile as she died—she may have screeched, may have cried out to her God. May have wondered how a man could do such a thing...

I wondered now, as I tried to cleanse my memory of her, as I opened the window to purge the scent of her from my pores: how must it have felt to yearn for her body, hear her heart beat against her ribs...how must it have felt to know her, love her?

“Superficially, that's how,” Her love, like a candle, was easily lit, and just as easily snuffed. “I should know.” Catching my eye in the rear view mirror, I could see the lie in them—no matter how far I tried to push it back, it had always resurfaced: the memories, the stolen time, the pain. The wandering...

Her death—like a play—had been staged down to the very minute details. I had tracked her down, watched her every move, bribed and convinced people—orchestrated this little scheme until my Cinderella broke her glass of booze and the clock struck two AM. By the time the dancers gathered, this dark prince had slipped away in his black carriage.

As I parked the car at my hotel, found my room and turned the TV to the local news, I wasn't surprised to find camera lenses and anchors flocking the closed off area, trying to perhaps get a glimpse of the paramedics carrying the body away—to get a look at the concrete, juicy details. Cops surrounded the scene and ambulance lights were flashing—red and white, red and white. It looked very much like a macabre dance floor where instead of crushing, thrusting bodies, loud music, and suffocating heat; there was the ambulance lights, the cries and protests of worried and shocked people, and the procedures typical of a crime scene investigation. No one's words trailed me to the dark hotel room. They did not accuse me from the glare of the TV. Grabbing the remote and turning off the news, I was soon left to darkness. The shades were drawn and the lights off. Darkness was easy to hide in—no one could see me grab a beer in hands that shook, no one had to know how fast I drank it, no one had to see the sweat that peppered my neck and brow. I suppose it was guilty conscience, but it had to be done. She had to die.

Why...? they might ask. Even in this lonely darkness; I could see the focused eyes of the cops, the table, the dim light swinging overhead, their pressed uniforms. Looking past the cop, I'd answer Because I was killing her anyway—sucking the life from her. I did it because I loved her...

The cop would laugh, maybe sigh, and run a hand through his hair. His partner would grab my arm and hoist me to my feet. The handcuffs would catch the light and I'd be led to my cell—with a resounding clang, it would close on the world as I knew it forever.

Who would believe the word of a demon anyway?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Red Ink, the Necessary Evil

And evil it is, isn't it? This thing we call *shudder* editing. Just thinking of it is enough to make a writer wince in horror. We've heard so many tips from authors and editors about how to edit--which way is best and what you should never ever do. There is so much out there on the subject that I got a headache trying to find the best tips to give you all.

Still, out of all the information out there, I noticed three pieces of advice that popped up repeatedly. So I'll share those with you :)

1.) When you think you're ready to edit, hide your MS.

That's right. When you're done writing out this incredible story and are about to get down to the nitty gritty--stop! Put it away. Go ahead and celebrate if you want. You go right ahead and go a little crazy. You've finished it! But don't start editing it right away. One agent who actually responded personally to a query of mine gave me this advice:
"A lot of new writers make the mistake of beginning the editing process before the ink is even dry. Take the time to let it simmer and then go over it."
Basically--If you're still in love with it, then it's not time yet.
He explained how love is blind. Not just in reality, but also when it comes to our writing. We're likely to miss things we'd otherwise notice. The plot is still too fresh in your mind--you won't be able to see the flaws for what they are. So tuck it into a different folder and let it ferment a little. Go work on something else.
In his book On Writing, Stephen King also gives this advice. (I highly recommend this book btw. Easy to read and filled with some great advice.)

2.) Don't just edit on the computer. Print out your MS and do it manually.

OH YEAH. I felt a little pain at that one. I am cheap. I don't like printing things out unless absolutely necessary--ink is expensive!--so thinking about my 200 pages sliding from my printer...yikes.
Is it worth it?
I know it's so much easier to hit delete on your keyboard or just insert a quick line or two with a few simple taps from your fingers--and you should definitely still use the spell check!--but you should really do this. There's just something about holding a physical form of your story. Reading it from paper with a red pen in hand--you'll catch things you probably wouldn't on a computer screen.

3.) Have someone read your MS aloud, or do it yourself.

This is why a Beta reader comes in handy but it doesn't have to be them who does this. You can ask a friend. A really, really, patient friend. Heh heh.
There's always a certain way we 'hear' things when we write them--this is your chance to sound it out. It helps give your story a voice and you to hear what sounds right and what sounds like UGH. :)
You also get to experiment with the different voices your characters have. If they have an accent--does your writing show that? Do they stutter? Do they rush their words?
What about those funny lines you put in there? Still funny?
Even if you do this throughout the writing process, take the time to do it again with the MS as a whole.

Other things to watch for...

Dialogue attributes-- Oh we're all guilty of them. I am a dialogue attribute whore. My characters purr, retort, snort, bark, yelp, (and any other word you can think of) up the wall. While those attributes are all well and good, it gets a little annoying when you see them in every other line of dialogue. Yeah...I'm working on it.

Plot Lines-- Are they all resolved? Did you forget one?

Obvious no-nos--
  • Jamie stormed away, taking the child with her. (with her? if she took the child--of course he/she is with her)
  • She kissed him with those tempting lips of hers. (oh, I thought they were someone elses lips...thanks for the clarification)
  • *this one is taken from an editor's rant session* Harry nodded his head. (as opposed to his elbow?)  *LOL*
Tension-- Is it in the right place? Is it there at all?

Love Scenes-- Please don't just have them to have them. There must be a reason for it. If it doesn't change your characters' relationships or move the plot forward--it's just sex. Not a good thing unless you're writing porn. Then by all means...continue.

Oh there are more...just thought I'd point out some of the big ones ha ha.

Remember that weak writing is bad writing. Give it your best and then some. Be evil with that red pen because if you aren't--an editor will.

Happy Writing!


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