October 27, 2020
October 23, 2020
If asked about conflict, I would describe myself as conflict-adverse. I would prefer to avoid it, but I will step up and fight if all other avenues have been exhausted. This stance makes writing about conflict extra tricky for me. Life is full of conflict (internal, external), and avoiding it in fiction is unrealistic (this coming from the person who writes about vampires, wizards, and fairies).
Character versus self conflict includes a moral dilemma or a mental health condition. It demonstrates a struggle the character has within her/himself. The conflict resolves when the character makes, and acts on, a choice. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk is a great example of this type of conflict as demonstrated with the main character's interactions with his alter ego.
Character versus character conflict occurs when the needs and/or wants of one character contradict those of another character. The characters are on opposing sides whether it's a straightforward fight or a complex power struggle. The conflict resolves when the characters needs and/or wants align or when one character defeats the other. In William Goldman's The Princess Bride, the hero Westley must defeat the prince engaged to Westley's true love Buttercup.
Character versus nature conflict is present when the heroine/hero must survive against poor weather, harsh environment, or natural disaster. The conflict resolves when the protagonist survives or dies. There is always a possibility that nature wins. For example, Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, a story about a young man who decides to live off the land in the Alaskan wilderness and dies.
Character versus supernatural conflict occurs when the character must battle a supernatural element, like ghosts, vampires, or other mythical creatures. The supernatural characteristics create a power imbalance which makes it even more impressive if the hero prevails. Often both parties possess supernatural skills, and throughout the story arc, the hero learns how to hone his/her power. The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan immediately comes to mind as I picture the epic battles between the young demigod and the monsters he encounters throughout the books. As the books progress, he gains confidence and experience in his skills.
Character versus society conflict is present when the character opposes what is considered "normal" for the purposes of, for example but not limited to, survival, morality, or love. In George Orwell's 1984, Winston questioned the Party in his diary which was a crime ("thoughtcrime") punishable by death. He wanted the freedom to think which threatened the status quo of a tightly controlled society built and maintained on propaganda and outright lies.
Conflict is essential to drive a narrative forward. It is the catalyst for character growth. And it keeps life interesting.
October 16, 2020
It's almost that time of year again. National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). For #preptober, I'm reviewing what I did last year and planning this year's project.
I prepped BIG TIME last year. I went from 95% Pantser to 110% Planner. This year, I'm planning on a lot less prep, but still some, so I'm aiming for 80% Plantster.
If you're unfamiliar with these terms... A Pantster writes by the seat of his/her pants—no planning whatsoever. A Planner plans everything before she/he starts writing, like plot outlines, character backstories, and world maps. A Plantster is somewhere in between... he/she has an idea and a basic outline before writing begins.
I already have my NaNoWriMo project idea. Book #5 of The Magicals Series. Since it's a continuation of a story line I introduced in Book #2, less planning is required. I know the main characters, their backstories, their goals and motivations—I even know how their story ends (loosely) since the timeline largely occurs behind the scenes of Book #2. But all the middle ground? I guess I'll find out as the story unfolds.
The Magicals Series
October 9, 2020
October 6, 2020
Ancient and powerful vampire Corgan has been influencing struggling writer Marisa's life path. He wants to tell his story, before ending his existence, and chooses her to author his tale. But it’s complicated. Corgan knows his request will place her in grave danger. She doesn't.
Praise for A Vampire's Tale
"...I really enjoyed this story... Keep up the good work Maya." -- Graceli, Amazon
"...I really liked the premise of the book and the world the author created..." -- Julie, Amazon
"...This is an amazing contemporary paranormal romance with danger and suspense woven into it to make it even more enjoyable..." -- Suzanne, Amazon
A Vampire's Tale is Book 1 of The Magicals Series... Read Kurtis Warde's story in A Wizard's Choice.
October 2, 2020
As a writer, I have this ingrained love of all things words. The pen is mightier than the sword, you know. And I love cliches, but that's a topic for another post. :)
Words are such an important mode of communication that it's crucial to use them in a way conducive to your audience's understanding. You're not going to use five-dollar words (there I go again) when speaking to a child (unless they happen to be a genius...), are you?
A writer writes. An editor edits. And, yes, there is some (a lot of) overlap. After the (dreaded) first draft is complete, the real "fun" begins. Not every writer enjoys the editing process. I admit it can be challenging to edit your own work. You knew what you wanted to say even if the words didn't come out that way. (The rhyme was so unintentional. I haven't written an actual blog post in soooo long.) A thorough self-edit is a must-have. I completed a two-year Editing Certificate in 2018 just to improve my own writing / self-editing process. I discovered I loved editing. I really do. There's something so satisfying about it. Learning about editing and, in conjunction, proper writing, really helped me. I think the language arts / English courses I took in school missed some important grammar lessons. I immediately took it upon myself to teach my sons some of what I learned. I bet they're the only kids in their classes who use semi-colons (properly).
Before I submitted A Wizard's Choice, Book 2 of The Magicals Series, for publication, I put my newfound knowledge to good use. I think it improved the editing process, and I'm sure my editor would agree. (Ironically, I adopt informal language in my blog posts.) I recently submitted Book 3 to my publisher... I'm still on pins and needles about its acceptance. << Fingers crossed >> Before I pressed "send" I put my book through my newly documented self-editing paces.
I let my book sit for at least a week before I begin self-editing.
Step One: Make an outline of the completed book
I write an outline as the book progresses, tracking chapter content and word count, so I can simply update this outline. Then I review the outline against the plotting tool(s) I used. In the case of Book 3, I used the Plot Rollercoaster, The Save the Cat! Beat Sheet, and The Three-Act Structure. Overkill? Perhaps. I definitely prepped more for Book 3 than any of my preceding books. Comparing an outline to a plot tool ensures the chapters are in the right order, and the plot unfolds in a logical way.
Step Two: Smooth and improve language
In this step, I complete another read-through to tighten up my writing. Eliminate unnecessary (filler) words. Identify, then avoid, common crutches (for instance "ly" words, overused words, was/were, passive tone). Show, don't tell. I have a reference list of commonly overused words—I included an excerpt below—and I use the "search in document" function to check when I've used these words so I can switch them out.
Step Three: Line by line check for writing mechanics and consistency
During this read-through, I ensure my writing complies with writing mechanics—the language rules—checking for grammar, spelling, punctuation, and consistency. There is a right and wrong answer in writing mechanics, unless an exception, a stylistic decision, is implemented. Choosing a specific style guide or using a style sheet to record your choices (for instance an unusual spelling of a character's name) helps with consistency.
Every author has their own approach to self-editing. A thorough self-edit is not a replacement for a professional editor. An objective pair of eyes will find errors in, and ways to improve, the manuscript that the author may overlook. Even multiple pairs of eyes may miss a mistake so be kind if you happen to find an error in a professionally edited, published book.
Authors, what's your self-editing process?
Readers, what's the most cringeworthy editing oops you've spotted in a published book?
September 29, 2020
Another successful Summer Series has come to completion. This year, I featured seventeen talented Tirgearr Publishing authors and their fascinating characters... There was so much interest in My Character's Favorite Quote that I scheduled guests into the end of September! Missed a post or two? Check out the links below.
September 25, 2020
“To proclaim the two dumber than dirt would insult dirt. Each entered this world with a tail and back legs shy of a whole cow.”
—Red Farlow describes two wayward characters in my latest novel, Blue Magnolia. Their names are Swansy Elliott and Bugger Nelms. They are sad men with a tendency to violence—accidental and otherwise—and offer no redeeming qualities to stir pity for them. The two thugs cause no end of trouble for Blue Magnolia’s country singer, Hank “Cowboy” Tillman, a gentle soul who’s suffered his share of bullying.
A county song becomes one killer of a hit.
PI Red Farlow dives headfirst into a hornets' nest of extremists. His new client, Hank Tillman, only wants to get a shot at country music stardom. While playing in a Georgia bar, Hank—known as Cowboy to his fans—stumbles into trouble. The kind that kills. PI Red Farlow steps in to help him.
Hank’s song, Redneck Devil, attracts the attention of a violent group called the Blue Magnolia. Its leaders want him to perform at their next hate rally. There's another, darker reason the Blue Magnolia wants Hank in its fold.
An elderly patient in a Florida insane asylum reveals a decades-long secret that devastates Hank. It’s the worst kind of fake news.
Can Farlow root out the truth? The PI has his own problems as he confronts a hired killer face-to-face.
September 18, 2020
Welcome back to 'My Character's Favorite Quote.' This week's guests are featured from Leading the Pack by David J. O'Brien.
“Say the word, Boss,” Justin said, almost panting. “I’ll rip his throat out.”
Patrick smiled. Justin showed exactly how much he wanted to spill blood by calling Patrick Boss.
“No, Justin. You will say the word.” The word would be the last this man heard.
The word was werewolf.
In the Silver Nights Trilogy, a pack of werewolves live among us, hidden in plain sight. Their identity must remain a secret – unless exceptional circumstances occur.
Once the secret is revealed, the word Werewolf spoken aloud, death is usually imminent.
In the second book of the trilogy, Leading the Pack, new Alpha Patrick must control his pack and ensure they keep the word werewolf unsaid, but it’s not always possible.
Leading the Pack, Silver Nights Trilogy, Book Two by David J. O'Brien
Alphas aren't elected; they're self-selected.
Life has been good since Paul McHew left his werewolf pack twenty years ago and married Susan. Patrick is the eldest of their four children and feels the pull of the full moon earlier than his father had.
Patrick itches for the city, but things have changed since his father's time. The economy is booming and everyone has a smart phone. But in a post 9-11 world, where security cameras abound, everyone is being watched.
Patrick must make the city streets his own as the eldest of a new generation. To do that, he must learn to control his own impulses, and those of his pack mates, if he hopes to become their leader.
Encountering a potential mate and facing a definite rival, can Patrick be the alpha everyone expects him to be?
Excerpt from Unleashing the Pack:
Patrick McHew strolled along a quiet street at sunset. A spring shower had cleared the air and left small puddles on the uneven pavement. Strings of horse chestnut petals lay along the gutters. The old trees standing up out of the concrete and asphalt shed no perfume into the coming night, but Patrick yet smelled the fallen flowers among the other scents emanating from the street.
He passed a kid of ten or twelve cycling around in circles on a BMX. A block away a young man in his twenties lingered on a corner. He watched Patrick approach, then turned away. An unspoken agreement had been reached. Patrick strolled past as if the man was as much a part of the street furniture as a lamppost or traffic sign.
Further on, a small group of teenagers leaned against the railings of a small park. Two of them pushed themselves from the railings and stood in the middle of the sidewalk. The other three stayed where they were, but stared fixedly at Patrick as he neared. Patrick instantly saw they were different. They dressed in the same kind of clothes—pants hanging down just as far—but these teens were from the suburbs. While the drug dealers and local street kids let Patrick and his friends pass through their territory the same way they let the trains and buses pass, these kids wanted to interact negatively.
Released to the city on the pretence of going to the cinema or some such legitimate pursuit, he surmised, their parents never discovered they found violence more diverting than the movies. These thugs always picked on weaker people and those in smaller groups, so they never went home with bruises.
Tonight they would.
The farthest one shifted his stance and took out his cell phone. Still leaning against the railings, he started to film the proceedings. Another annoying trend among the youth; posting their exploits on the Internet, even when those exploits were beating up other kids or stealing hats from strangers.
"What's goin' on?" one of the two blocking his way asked.
Patrick kept walking. He was now ten feet away and quickened his pace.
"You walkin' on my street?"
"You got to pay the toll," the other added.
Patrick shook his head, wondering where they'd got that line. It sounded like a bad eighties movie. The nearest two thugs let him pass without speaking; they wanted to surround him.
"You talkin' to me?" Patrick asked the nearest teen, imitating DeNiro. Before waiting for a reply, he lashed out. The heel of his palm slammed sideways against the teen's nose, shattering it in a spray of blood. The thug doubled over, holding his gushing face and cursing.
Patrick kept walking, lengthening his stride.
The others stared at their injured companion for a second, too shocked to react. The thug with the phone spun on his heel to follow Patrick as he passed by, his mouth agape.
When Patrick was already five yards away, they began to run after him.
"You'll fuckin' pay for that," one shouted.
Patrick began to jog, then broke into a run.
As he skirted around the block, he yipped loudly. The pursuing teens took this as a cry of fear. They started yelling, breaking into sprints after him.
Patrick looked behind and laughed. He ran fifty yards down the next street and then cut into an alleyway, the gang of youths at his heels.
As he passed by a dumpster, Patrick saw two men standing behind it. He pulled up short. Above him, on a fire escape, another five men stood.
One of these dropped to the ground behind Patrick.
Patrick turned around. The figures at the dumpster stepped out of the shadows. They smiled at Patrick.
He grinned back. "Say hello to my new friends."
The teens thundered into the alley and came to a halt when they saw Patrick had stopped.
When they saw the men step out from behind the dumpster they spread out, ready for a fight.
Then the other four figures dropped from the fire escape, landed light as cats on the asphalt.
It was five against eight, now.
The youths looked at one another and in unspoken agreement began to back out of the alley. Behind them, however, two more shadows materialised into the shapes of men, and slowly approached.
Patrick glanced right and left at the men now standing beside him; his own gang, his pack.
September 14, 2020
Welcome back to 'My Character's Favorite Quote.' This week's guest is Tavish MacLean of The Sins of the Sire by Emily Royal.
“Please, Elyssia, I beg you. I cannot continue on this path of vengeance. You’re not my enemy. Did you not once tell me that were I to embark on the path to vengeance I would have to dig many graves, including my own? For myself, I care not, but I must stop now before it’s too late, for there is one grave I have no wish to dig. Yours.”
Tavish, the hero of the novel, is motivated by vengeance. He pledged before the whole of his clan, to avenge the death of his beloved sister at the hands of an English nobleman, by abducting Elyssia, the nobleman’s daughter. But faced with Elyssia’s fortitude and courage, despite her captivity, he realises he can no longer deny his feelings for her, and begins to question his motives and his duty to his clan. This quote comes from a scene where he asks Elyssia to stay with him—as his lover, not his prisoner.
Two years ago, English noblewoman, Elyssia De Montford, risked her life to free the Highlander held prisoner by her sadistic fiancé. She cannot forget the man who first stirred her heart–a memory that burns anew when she finds herself once more on the road to Scotland.
Tavish MacLean has sworn vengeance. It’s been six years since his beloved sister was raped and murdered by an English lord, a tragedy which almost destroyed his family. On his deathbed, his father demanded retribution and Tavish pledged before his clan to enslave the lord’s daughter then send her back to her father, pregnant with a Scottish bastard. When he learns that she is travelling north, he seizes his opportunity and orders her abduction.
But when his men fling the prisoner before him, Tavish recognises Elyssia, the woman who once saved his life. Loyalty to his clan trumps the debt he owes her and he claims Elyssia as his captive. Though she’s one of the hated English, her willing body ignites passion in him at night, though she fights him at every turn during the day. As time passes, he questions his loyalty, finding himself increasingly enthralled by his fiery captive.
Treachery surrounds Clan MacLean. When long-buried secrets come to light, Tavish must risk his life and his clan, or all that he holds dear will be destroyed.
September 11, 2020
Welcome back to 'My Character's Favorite Quote.' This week's guest is Skylar Landis of One Night in Minneapolis by Margie Church.
The familiar voice from behind Skylar rekindled her anger. Marcie. You do wear the balls in your family. Eight months pregnant and still fighting your lame husband’s battles for him. What a woman.
September 4, 2020
Ally Reynolds is a veterinarian specializing in raptor rehabilitation in New Hampshire. Other than one horrific incident in her childhood and a little extra “spark” for healing in her hands, both of which she has kept secret from even her best friend, her life has been singularly boring. It has also been extremely lonely. Ally longs for someone to share her life with, but how can she trust someone with her secret?
Matthew Blake, an ornithologist at Cornell University, calls Ally, asking for her help with an injured raptor. Matthew grew up in New Zealand and has lived around the world. He has read about Ally’s high success rates in raptor rehabilitation and suspects there is more to it than is generally known.
Matthew has some secrets of his own; he is a demon hunter. He suspects Ally’s healing powers could benefit him. He wants her to join him and thinks they’d make a great team.
Can Ally trust him or is he just using her? Matthew definitely has more secrets, and some of them are about her.
August 28, 2020
FATED ALWAYS by Becky Flade
Book 4 in The Fated Series
Friendship. Secrets. Murder.
When her best friend, Sawyer Gavin, roars into town on his motorcycle, Tala Gael thinks life couldn’t get any better. What she couldn’t have anticipated was his appearance heralding a time of change in her quiet, comfortable existence.
With her life turned upside down, Tala resists Sawyer’s advances, clinging to the familiar. Tragedy changes her mind, but as she takes the leap of faith into Sawyer’s arms, they find themselves suspects in a murder investigation. And Tala learns she’s not the only person in Trappers’ Cove keeping an impossible secret.
Jealousy is when you worry someone will take what you have; envy is coveting what someone else has; and both can lead to murder.
August 24, 2020
Fingin had no drive in his life until he finds a half-drowned dog who becomes his best friend. That friend leads him to a cottage where a powerful woman sends him on a quest to find his grandmother. With his dog, Bran, and a donkey, Sean, they embark upon their journey. The problem is, his grandmother no longer seems to exist in this world.
Between falling in with a band of Fianna, nearly drowning in a river, and climbing to the rocky top of Skellig Michael, Fingin had just about had enough of this quest when some magical creatures sent him in the correct direction.
Once he finds his grandmother, he realizes nothing works out as it should have. She is far from what he remembers and even further from what he’d expected. And she entangled in a power struggle of her own and has little time to attend her wayward grandson.
Soon, a battle ensues, and Fingin is caught in the middle. He decisions will have long-term consequences for himself and those he loves.
August 21, 2020
“Seriously? We’re going swimming outdoors in the snow?”
An unexpected break-up means Hermione’s visiting Budapest alone. Determined to make the most of it, she goes on a night-time river cruise and meets Emil, sexy cocktail server. When he asks her out for dinner, she’s tempted, but she’s a long way from home and he's a complete stranger. She decides to take a chance, and what follows is an unforgettable night which will transform her life forever.