September 27, 2019


I love this hashtag. It encompasses my take on how to improve as an author. Many of the writing tips I've accumulated over the years are from successful authors and other industry experts.


Read, read, read. Read as much as you can. Read the genre you want to write. Read other good books. I love reading. I imagine most authors start out as avid readers who are inspired to create their own works. Reading actually helps improve your writing. When I read an amazing book, especially if it provokes the emotions I want to provoke in my own readers, it's inspirational. I want to write something as amazing. It's like the ultimate creativity charge.


Practice makes perfect. Every book starts off as a rough draft. It's easier to edit something than nothing. And all the other appropriate platitudes. Improving as an author involves a lot of writing. It's about finding yourself, your unique voice. It's about writing for yourself, getting your story down (without getting caught up in semantics). It's self-expression in its purest form.


Whether you write a detailed outline or simply wing it like a pantster, at some point you need a plan. A writing schedule. A plot direction. An understanding that, despite best efforts, plans change. Making plans involves both time and story management. That's why even a pantster needs a plan. I consider myself a reformed pantster. When I first started writing (seriously as an adult), I incorporated zero planning into my writing. With a little bit of luck, my stories would come together at the end. But, more often than not, I would start and not finish stories. A Wizard's Choice (The Magicals Series, Book 2) was the first book I outlined. I was able to write the majority of it in a month, during NaNoWriMo. Ironically, my original ending didn't pan out, but that's another story.

Short post this week... Back to writing...

September 24, 2019


Praise for A Vampire's Tale:

"Overall a very good story. I really liked the premise of the book and the world the author created... I...would read this author again for sure. Definitely an author to watch." -- Julie, Amazon Customer


Excerpt from A Vampire's Tale:

...Preoccupied with the story Marisa had just committed to writing, she finds herself in a sticky situation before Corgan swoops in and saves her...

This story belonged to him, not her, as much as she tried to convince herself
otherwise. Writing it as he revealed it, with no end in sight, unnerved her. The story
emerged like a living, breathing organism. For the first time, she felt like she had
created something real.

But the world would see fiction instead of truth. Oh, the irony. The best fiction
she ever wrote was actually true.

Lost in thought, the last half of her coffee had grown cold, and she didn’t want
more, anyway. The coffee shop was deserted except for the lone attendant. It must
be later than she realized. Her stomach churned, and something akin to fear gripped
her. She had the strangest notion she had to go home. Now.

Leaving the mug on the table, she walked out of the restaurant without a second
glance. Her step quickened as she heard frightening sounds in the darkness. Almost
home. She sighed.

Two strange men, with dark hoodies concealing their faces, stepped out of the

“Where are you off to in such a hurry, pretty lady?”

She ignored the speaker and continued walking.

“Hey, we're talking to you.”

The largest man of the duo blocked her path while the other grabbed her by the
back of her neck and yanked her into the alley.

Every fiber of her being wanted to flee. “Let go of me,” Marisa demanded.

“Not until we've had some fun.”

She tensed and clenched her fists. “Maybe you didn't hear me clearly before,
asshole. I said let go!”

The man in front of her pulled out a knife, the metal reflecting in the dim light of
the moon.

Heart racing, she struggled against her attacker, trying to kick her way free.

“The lady doesn't want to play tonight, fellas. I suggest you find a new friend.”

The man behind her released his grip, and the two thugs inched away from her.

“Hey, man. We didn't mean any harm.”

Corgan stepped in front of her and waved his hand in the air. “You were never
here. You never saw me. If you ever see this lady again, you will run away from her
and won't know why. Am I clear?”

They nodded blankly.

“Then go, before I change my mind.”

Marisa fell into Corgan’s arms as her would-be assailants dashed down the
street. Sobs racked her as she shivered uncontrollably. “You saved me.”

“I should've been here sooner.” Holding her tightly, he stroked her hair. “Nothing
will ever harm you again.”

Surrounded by the safety of his strong arms, she had complete faith in him. She
leaned into his embrace and sighed.

“Do you trust me?” he asked.


“Hold on.”

A Vampire's Tale

The best laid plans…

Marisa Clements was never satisfied writing the ‘gossip column’ in the local paper and she quit her job to follow her dream of writing fiction. Floundering in an unforgiving industry, she wrote about vampires, a popular subject she considered fascinating but as real as unicorns, to pay the rent.

Corgan was tired of human misconceptions about vampires and ‘living’ as a vampire. He planned to tell Marisa his story and end his existence. It was no coincidence Corgan selected Marisa to write his story. With the ability to see the future, he knew she would be a major part of it. He knew if they met, she would help him die, but in doing so, she’d be doomed to the same fate. Once they met, their futures would be irrevocably intertwined.

Corgan began to care for Marisa and finally revealed the truth to her. He admitted his quest to atone for his past sins had put her in grave danger from a nest of revenge-seeking vampires. Corgan must claim her for her own protection. But claiming her is not enough, he must ask for help from his wizard friends and his maker in order to destroy his enemy or Marisa will never be safe.

Buy Now:

September 20, 2019

Looking for Balance

I often see myself as two different people. Me, the person. Me, the author. In my real life, I strive for balance. In my fictional world, I create drama. Yin and Yang. Order and chaos.

What is balance?

Achieving both internal and external balance is ideal. Self-care is an important ingredient. So is moderation. There really can be too much of a good thing.

Internal balance can be mastered through equal parts engagement and retreat in your mind, heart, and body. Think, then rest. Give love, and then receive. Make healthy choices, and then allow yourself treats.

External factors affecting balance include work, social, family, and fun. Achieve career goals, and then enjoy vacation time. See friends, and then take time for yourself. Take care of your family and ensure your boundaries are respected. Participate in fun actives, and then rest.

[Tanjeloff, Jasmin. "How to Create a Balanced Life: 9 Tips to Feel Calm and Grounded." Tiny Buddha. Retrieved from]

I struggle to maintain balance in a life that constantly invites extremes. At times, my thoughts and emotions fall within an incoherent sliding scale. I see life as either very, very good or very, very bad—all or nothing—when an objective evaluation would be a more logical approach. What's logic got to do with it? I take my volatile thoughts and emotions and process them creatively.

How to create chaos?

An important part of writing is creating chaos for your characters—drawing them into impossible situations or giving them problems to resolve. A happily-ever-after is the end goal, but it's all about the journey, right?

In Duet at Midnight, my Chapters: Interactive Stories app contest entry, I threw one problem after another at my main character Drew Parker. I would wake up each morning and ask myself, "What can I do to Drew today?" For my story to work, I needed bad things to happen to him. A lot of bad things And, just when it seemed things were looking up, I rolled yet another hurdle at him.

Duet at Midnight

Drew Parker is headed to college with his girlfriend until he meets his twin sisters. Will he save his old life or find a new dream?

Read for free online or on the Chapters: Interactive Stories app. Download the app on your mobile device through the Apple App Store or Google Play.
*** Spoiler Alert ***

His father walks out on his birthday. His mother abandons him emotionally. His father dies. He becomes the legal guardian of his half-sisters. His high school girlfriend breaks up with him. He loses his job. He worries about losing his financial aid for college.

These trials helped Drew determine what he wants in life. Without conflict—chaos—Drew's life would've been drastically different.

*** Back to the Post ***

Encountering problems helps your characters evolve and grow. A life without conflict, as lovely as it sounds, would be pretty boring. Strife molds who you become and helps you build resilience for future problems.

"What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger." -- Friedrich Nietzsche

It's not realistic to hand a character everything they want. Even good things come at a cost. And, truly, the happy ending becomes that much sweeter when the journey there has been filled with trouble.

September 17, 2019


Join paranormal skeptic Marisa Clements in A Vampire's Tale as a chance encounter with vampire Corgan Halton inspires a writing project that surpasses her wildest dreams.

Visit Marisa and Corgan again in A Wizard's Choice as their friend wizard apprentice Kurtis Warde faces some important decisions.

Meet the complex heroes in The Magicals Series.

The Magicals Series

September 13, 2019

The Downside of Unpopularity

Never have I ever... been popular. And I (for the most part) really don't care. I have a fulfilling life, surrounded by people I love. Except that life seems to be one big popularity contest.

How do we elect our politicians? How do we select our employees (if not by merit)? How do we pick the restaurants where we eat and the stores where we shop? Why do we buy certain brands or products? A New York Times Bestseller sells more copies than a book published by an indie author. A person with a huge social following will get more views, likes, shares, and comments.

The truth is...popularity is important to success. And, on a day like today, when I feel sick (I have a cold) and all my other physical symptoms are consequently exasperated, it's very difficult to stay positive.

This is not a new feeling... Maybe I was already coming down with a cold when I wrote that tweet. I hate to be the writer who moans and groans about low readership, threatening to quit writing forever. I'm not going to stop writing, but half of being a writer feels like despairing under the heavy umbrella of self-doubt.

I saw a tweet, the other day, asking to dismiss the belief that you need to be damaged to be a good artist. But the truth is, we are all damaged in our own way. We carry our flaws, our mistakes, our heartaches, our tragedies. It is what we do with this baggage that counts.

I am the sum total of everything that has ever happened to me. If I had a time machine, there are definitely moments in my life I'd like to do-over. But, if we've learned anything from time travel fiction, it's that even a small, insignificant change can cause drastic ripples in the future.

So, here's my ween... I'm sick. My throat hurts. My head hurts. I'm dizzy. No one is reading / buying my work. What am I even doing here? And, here's my counter-ween... I'm alive. I have a unique story to tell. And tell it, I will. Maybe tomorrow when I feel a little better.

September 10, 2019


5 stars for A Wizard's Choice:

"I loved how animated some of the characters were and the fast pace story. The author draws you into a magical world of wizards. Every chapter deepens the plot of the story and helps you stay hooked until the end." -- Ash.L.Sctt, Amazon

September 6, 2019

Behind the Scenes of Duet at Midnight

This summer, I had the pleasure of entering the Chapters: Interactive Stories TapTale story competition. You can read Duet at Midnight on the app or online.

Duet at Midnight

Drew Parker is headed to college with his girlfriend until he meets his twin sisters. Will he save his old life or find a new dream?

Reverse Cinderella story in a contemporary setting where the older brother falls for a pop princess.

Read for free on the Chapters: Interactive Stories app. Download the app on your mobile device through the Apple App Store or Google Play.

The Contest

The contest ran from July 1 to August 15. The rules were straightforward. You needed a book cover, title, and blurb to start posting. 20-50 chapters. One point-of-view. Young adult romance. And...the story had to be marked "END" by August 15. No problem, right?

Well... It was a greater challenge than I had anticipated. It's good to challenge ourselves sometimes.

The Cover

I wanted a great-looking cover. I wanted a real eye-catcher, something different from everyone else. A reader—I know because I am one—judges a book by its cover. I tried to make one. I knew exactly what I wanted. But I'm not a graphic designer, and I couldn't figure out how to achieve the look I was going for without looking like total amateur hour. I looked at pre-made covers and didn't see the right one. I finally bit the bullet. If I was in the contest, then I was all in. I contacted Evernight Designs, the company who designed my book covers for A Vampire's Tale and A Wizard's Choice, and ordered a custom book cover. It was worth every penny. Just looking at it makes me happy.

The Title

In order to complete the book cover, I needed a title. After I wrote a rough outline of the story I planned, I thought of Duet at Midnight. Midnight to play off the Cinderella theme. Duet because I knew the love interest was a singer.

The Story

Even though I have published two other TapTales (Heart's Storm and FlyBoy), I had never written a story directly on the app. Thankfully, there was a tutorial. I usually don't title my books or share my work-in-progresses before I'm ready to submit to publishers. This was a first for me. I wrote my chapters, checked my work, typed into the app, checked my work, published the chapter, and checked my I wrote the story. It was kind of like driving in the dark. I knew my final destination, but I couldn't exactly see where I was going or how I was going to get there.

I needed to plan and outline. Extensively.

I jotted down character info, plot lines, possible loose ends, and even a publishing schedule so I could ensure I finished on time. I included my sheets here... I know they are incredibly hard to read because I wrote mostly in pencil... But it can give you a fair idea of my process. A little look behind the scenes, if you will.


I can honestly say I gave this story my all. Despite all the firsts—title, blurb, and book cover before a completed story; publishing on the app as I wrote—I was incredibly pleased with how my story ended. It literally all came together at the end.

The Support

I'd like to thank my family for their time and patience this summer. Writing this story took a bit more time than I'd anticipated. I promised my kids, if I win, I'll share the prize money.

If you read Duet at Midnight on the app, you can "heart" it and leave comments. You can also show your support with a "star." Every user can give out 10 star tickets per week until September 15.

The final judgement will be released on September 20. Writing a complete book (at least 20 chapters) in 6 weeks is a feat. It felt a little like NaNoWriMo all over again. So, completing equals winning...even though there will be actual winners announced. Fingers crossed for Duet at Midnight.