Category Archives: Author Advice

How I Learned to be Zen About Book Reviews with @Artzicarol

Today’s featured guest is Carol Riggs, author of the new YA sci-fi release, The Lying Planet. So without further ado, please welcome Carol!

How I Learned to be Zen About Book Reviews

I SAID NO WAY, NEVER. In the summer of 2015, my debut book, The Body Institute, was about to release. I vowed never to read the reviews about my “baby”—I didn’t need to know what people thought, and I knew I’d obsess over the negative reviews instead of the good ones. That would mess up my writing mojo for unfinished novels because doubts would lodge in my brain. Many wise, already-published authors advised against looking at reviews.

I SAID WELL…MAYBE A FEW. But then the ARCs went out for my debut, and advanced reviews started coming in on Goodreads. I had to look. My friends—even strangers—gave me great reviews. I floated on the high. This was fun! And when some negative reviews came in (1-star, 2-star), I dared to take at peek. After all, my “skin” was pretty thick, since I had experience with critique partner feedback as well as a long submission process before I found a publisher, in which one editor would love one thing and dislike another, while another editor loved and disliked exactly the opposite things. Reading reviews was pretty much the same experience, although I did have some anguish when some reviewers condemned the book for a misunderstanding or for some random thing no one else had a problem with. It was puzzling, admittedly agonizing, and yet morbidly fascinating all at the same time.

I SAID OKAY, MAYBE A FEW MORE. It went downhill from there. A cat’s curiosity gripped me. I kept reading the reviews. My writing was described as “delectable” while another reviewer said: “The. Writing. Was. Horrible.”

Gah! Doesn’t that drive you crazy? You want to pull out your hair wondering “Which one is right?”

Answer: It didn’t matter. Authors can’t please everyone. I’d known that in my head, but I began to experience it. It helped to look up the first Harry Potter book on Goodreads and see JK Rowling had more than 64,000 1-star reviews (compared to nearly 2,539,000 5-stars). Whoa!

I SAID BRING IT ON. The reviews for my debut kept rolling in—the good, the bad, and the ugly.

In July 2016, I published Bottled, my YA fantasy. Reading those reviews was a lot easier. When a low rating would pop up, I was like, oh, there’s my first 2-star review. While one person couldn’t bear to finish the book, another raved and wanted a sequel.

In September 2016, The Lying Planet released, and I got an amusing range of reactions there too—is the concept unique and creative, or is it cliché science fiction, derivative of books like Divergent?

I’M ZEN WITH IT. So, after three books, I’ve concluded readers have incredibly different tastes, and the best thing I can do is accept that subjectivity and just go back to my writer cave and write more books, doing the best I possibly can. I treasure the readers who do connect with my writing. In the end, as long as people are reading and enjoying my book; those are the ones I’m writing for. My true fans.

Preach it, Sister! I’ve found exactly the same thing. It is impossible to please everyone. Just do your best to please most people. Good luck with The Lying Planet!


Promise City. That’s the colony I’ve been aiming for all my life on the planet Liberty. The only thing standing in my way? The Machine. On my eighteenth birthday, this mysterious, octopus-like device will scan my brain and Test my deeds. Good thing I’ve been focusing on being Jay Lawton, hard worker and rule follower, my whole life. Freedom is just beyond my fingertips.

Or so I thought. Two weeks before my Testing with the Machine, I’ve stumbled upon a new reality. The truth. In a single sleepless night, everything I thought I knew about the adults in our colony changes. And the only one who’s totally on my side is the clever, beautiful rebel, Peyton. Together we have to convince the others to sabotage their Testings before it’s too late.

Before the ceremonies are over and the hunting begins.

Purchase linksAmazon   |  Barnes  & Noble  |  Kobo   |  iBooks  |

Carol Riggs is an author of young adult fiction who lives in the beautiful green state of Oregon, USA. Her books include her sci-fi debut, The Body Institute, as well as her fantasy, Bottled, and her recently released sci-fi, The Lying Planet. She enjoys reading, drawing and painting, writing conferences, walking with her husband, and enjoying music and dance of all kinds. You will usually find her in her writing cave, surrounded by her dragon collection and the characters in her head.

Connect with CarolWebsite  |  Twitter  |  Facebook  |  Goodreads  |

Did you know that Libraries BUY BOOKS? Find out how to get your books onto librarians’ lists! @kristathegold

You’ve written an amazing novel. You want to share it with the world. But you’re only you.

Thankfully, there are others who can help: Librarians.

At the Library A

What many authors don’t realize is that libraries receive a set amount of monies each summer and they must spend it all in that time frame.  Librarians want your books. Hundreds of Dollars MoneyReaders need your books.  But since they’re about 120,000 libraries in the United States, it isn’t possible for you to contact them all. However, you can contact a few, even out of state, and get your book on a shelf by following some simple etiquette.

Once you’ve decided on which libraries to contact ( has a comprehensive list of addresses and phone numbers for all states and cities), you want to be sure that your request is effective.  When calling, ask for the Library Director or Branch Manager and let them know that you are requesting a purchase order of your novel to be added to their collection.

Phone InterviewBriefly tell them what kind of book it is (fiction or non-fiction) and its particular audience. Most librarians will ask you to email them links and a synopsis of your book; many of them require you to have reviews, some require professional reviews (Library Journal, Publisher’s Weekly, BookList).  In your email, you may want to consider letting them know that you are willing to also hold public readings of the book, workshops, and other promising events.

Be sure to get their names and to thank them for their time and consideration!

About the Author:

Krista Wagner is a 70’s product of Southern California who lives with her Marine Corp veteran husband, three very entertaining children, and an indispensable faith in Christ.

Catch up with Krista On-line! Twitter | | Facebook | Blog



Ten-year-old Amanda is constantly teased and tormented in school. Her home life is less than satisfactory where her widower father, who is often away on business trips, leaves her in the care of her indifferent teenaged sister. Worse, not a day goes by when Amanda doesn’t miss her mom. To escape reality, Amanda creates fantasy stories, but when she discovers a talking golden pebble, her imagined world turns into a new-fangled reality.

Check out THE GOLD on Amazon!

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Ashes and Fire2You can find Fire in the Woods and Ashes in the Sky at all these awesome bookish places!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Kobo | Chapters Indigo! | iBooks | IndiBound |

Catch up with me on social media!

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NYT Best Selling Author Julie Cross: Five things I would tell my unpublished self if I could back in time

Today I’ve invited NYT Best-Selling Author Julie Cross to discuss the five things she would tell her unpublished self if she could go back in time.

Take it away, Julie!

Hello, Jennifer, and thanks for having me. If I could go back in time, this is what I’d tell myself:

1)     Enjoy the freedom and innocence of pre-publication: This is a tough one because publication seemed so glittery and sparkly before I got there. And believe me, it is all of that and more. But it’s also a job. As in time to be professional, have deadlines, get serious…there’s no way around the loss of some of that pure enjoyment that comes before publication. Maybe it isn’t like that for everyone, but for me, I wouldn’t mind telling my pre-published self, “hey, relax a little, take it all in. It’s okay.”

2)     Travel to another country and write about it: I feel like every writer I know has done this except for me. I’m always looking for ways to take my writing to the next level, add depth of understanding. Plus, it would be really fun to say, “I’m in Ireland researching for my novel…” on my out of office email reply.

3)     Use Scrivener now! It took me until January of 2015 (nearly 6 years into my writing journey to pry myself from Microsoft Word. Scrivener is another word processor program like Word but it really works well for me and my brain. I tend to create all kinds of documents with lists, and brainstorming, and casting characters and planning future books in a series and then I save those documents in random places, with random names. Scrivener allows for all my notes, outlining, summaries, etc…to be right there in the document. You can see daily progress. I could go on forever but if I’ve intrigued you, Google it and check it out.

4)     Those amazing chapters you keep writing at 2am? Just don’t. Trust me.

5)     The first draft will always be the easiest part: I had very little idea of what went into getting a novel from draft 1 to bookstore shelves when I got my first book deal. It didn’t seem like there could be so much work left to do after writing THE END. Let’s just say I was a little shell-shocked going through the steps with that first book. And even now, I tend to struggle with all the re-reads. When I finish a project, I’m ready to move on.

Awesome! Thanks so much for stopping by Julie!

Julie’s new book was just released!

Find out more about CHASING TRUTH

At Holden Prep, the rich and powerful rule the school—and they’ll do just about anything to keep their dirty little secrets hidden.

When former con artist Eleanor Ames’s homecoming date commits suicide, she’s positive there’s something more going on. The more questions she asks, though, the more she crosses paths with Miles Beckett. He’s sexy, mysterious, arrogant…and he’s asking all the same questions.

Eleanor might not trust him—she doesn’t even like him—but they can’t keep their hands off of each other. Fighting the infuriating attraction is almost as hard as ignoring the fact that Miles isn’t telling her the truth…and that there’s a good chance he thinks she’s the killer.

Purchase Links:

Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo | | | IndieBound | BAM | TBD  | Goodreads

About Julie Cross:

Julie Cross is a NYT and USA Today bestselling author of New Adult and Young Adult fiction, including the Tempest series, a young adult science fiction trilogy which includes Tempest, Vortex, Timestorm (St. Martin’s Press). She’s also the author of Letters to Nowhere series, Whatever Life Throws at You, Third Degree, Halfway Perfect, and many more to come!

Julie lives in Central Illinois with her husband and three children. She’s a former gymnast, longtime gymnastics fan, coach, and former Gymnastics Program Director with the YMCA. She’s a lover of books, devouring several novels a week, especially in the young adult and new adult genres.

Outside of her reading and writing credibility’s, Julie Cross is a committed–but not talented–long distance runner, creator of imaginary beach vacations, Midwest bipolar weather survivor, expired CPR certification card holder, as well as a ponytail and gym shoe addict.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Rafflecopter! Click below for a chance to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card + a paperback copy of Whatever Life Throws at You (INT)

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What evokes childlike wonder? And as adults writing for children, how can we recapture that? @DonnaGalanti

Harnessing Your Inner Child by Donna Galanti 

Fairy Wonder AChildlike wonder. What was yours as a kid? I walked along rock walls under the stars at night. Climbed trees to sing songs to the woods. And hid away in rose bush caves with a notepad to write my stories – all the while believing that magic existed.

Regaining a childlike sense of wonder isn’t about returning to a childlike state, it’s about letting yourself be awed by the little things in your grownup life. The mundane every day is what can dull our wonder. And just because those little things happen every day doesn’t mean they aren’t miraculous.

Sled Ride BBut keeping your childlike wonder can be difficult when grownup duties mount. One winter day as I tried to write, I watched two kids sled. Their laughter and joy snapped me out of my trapped trance. I remembered being ten years old and how a whole day of sledding was magical.


And I realized now that in order to do my job well as a children’s author, and to find joy in it, I needed to rekindle my kid wonder again. How can we keep that kind of wonder with us?


Me with my lion ring.

I found wonder in my hero then, the lion from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis.

My wonder list:

  1. Re-visit pictures of yourselves as a kid. Daydream about what you were doing in those photos. What were you excited about?
  2. Did you write diaries as a child or teen? Go back and read them to inspire that voice of youth in your own writing.
  3. Look at the world from a different perspective. Like the snow. I went out in it and made a snow angel and looked up at the sky. Something I hadn’t done in years.
  4. Create a new bucket list together with your kids or grandkids. What do they dream of doing that you could do with them?
  5. Read stories by your own children, or grandchildren, to see how they view the world in their words.
  6. Revive memories of being the age of your characters. Draw a map of the neighborhood you grew up in. Remember what you saw, what you felt, and how you reacted to events there and write them down.
  7. Act out a scene in your book, or any book, with dramatic flair.
  8. Face a childhood fear (mine was going down in our dark 200-year-old cellar where I had been sure dead bodies were buried in the dark hole in the wall).

Stylish YouthIn doing these things myself, I remembered how awesome it was to be a kid again and lost in the moment. And that every day as a kid was about being swept up in the magical moments. And I could once again be lost in the wonder – and the small things.

How do you harness your childlike wonder in writing for tweens or teens?

Buy Joshua and the Arrow Realm and Joshua and the Lightning Road (book one on sale now for just $.99cents through 9/20) at:

About Donna: Donna Galanti is the author of the Element Trilogy (Imajin Books) and the Joshua and The Lightning Road series (Month9Books). She is a contributing editor for International Thriller Writers the Big Thrill magazine and blogs with other middle grade authors at Project Middle Grade Mayhem. Donna has lived from England as a child, to Hawaii as a U.S. Navy photographer. She now lives in Pennsylvania with her family in an old farmhouse that has lots of nooks and crannies, but sadly no ghosts. You can find her books, resources for writers, and upcoming events at For more information on her writing for tweens and teens visit

Connect with Donna:

Website: Facebook: Twitter: Pinterest: GoodReads: Instagram:


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Ashes and Fire2You can find Fire in the Woods and Ashes in the Sky at all these awesome bookish places!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Kobo | Chapters Indigo! | iBooks | IndiBound |

Catch up with me on social media!

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Feeling the Pressure! AKA: Writing your second novel, after your first won so many awards @JGoochHummer

Woohoo! Today we’re welcoming Jennifer Gooch Hummer to chat about sending her second book into the world, after her first book, GIRL UNMOORED won TWELVE awards!  No pressure or anything! (List of awards is below)

So tell us about it Jennifer. What is GIRL UNMOORED about?

Hi Jennifer! Thank you for having me on your blog.

My first novel, GIRL UNMOORED, is a Young Adult book about a girl named Apron whose outcast life changes when she befriends two young men, both unbeknownst to her, have AIDS. The story takes place in 1985 when the fear of AIDS was rampant.

Clearly this is a much different genre than middle-grade fantasy! So even though I would love to repeat the amazing awards that I was lucky enough to win for GIRL UNMOORED, I can’t even begin to compare my debut to OPERATION TENLEY.

An editor once explained to me they look for two kinds of books: award-winning or commercially successful. My goal for THE FAIR CITY FILES series is to be commercially successful. I hope that does not sound too shallow. I certainly strived to write the best book possible, but it’s the story world in this book that I hope intrigues the most.

Besides, as every writer knows, each story is its own eco-system, completely separate from one another. I wasn’t sure I could love a character more than Apron Bramhall, but Tenley Tylwyth and Holden Wonderbolt have stolen my heart.

I’m writing Book II now and let’s just say… adventurous weather awaits!

Sounds awesome! So what’s Operation Tenley about?

Tenley Tylwyth is an Elemental Teen born with the power to produce weather. Cool? Not really. Elementals who can create weather make Mother Nature angry. It’s time she got rid of them. Only one thing is standing in her way—Fair Ones. These ancestors of fairies keep kids like Tenley safe, but when rookie Fair One, Pennie, fails to do so, she’s forced to travel to Earth—a place where no Fair One wants to go. Now, Pennie has forty-eight hours to convince Tenley to give up her power. It won’t be so easy. Tenley’s got a way with wind. And after falling deep into Mother Nature’s gardens, where trees grow upside down and insects attack on command, a little wind might be just what Tenley needs to survive. Even if it kills her.

Sounds great! Thanks for stopping by Jennifer!

Find out more about Operation Tenley at your favorite bookish places!

Goodreads  | Google Play | BAM | Chapters | Indies | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | TBD | iBooks

Or enter the Rafflecopter [HERE] for the chance to win a copy!

About the author:

Jennifer Gooch Hummer is the award-winning author and screenwriter for her debut novel, Girl Unmoored, which has been optioned for film. Her middle grade fantasy series, Operation Tenley; Book 1 of The Fair City Files, is forthcoming September 2016. Jennifer has worked as a script analyst for various talent agencies and major film studios. Jennifer lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their three daughters.

GIRL UNMOORED has been awarded:
Maine Literary Awards, YA Fiction 2013
Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards 2012, YA Fiction Adult Themes.
Reader Views Kids Award Winner, Best Teen/YA Book of the Year, 2012
Reader Views Winner, Best Teen/YA Fiction 2012
Foreword Book of The Year Finalist, YA Fiction 2012
Indie Excellence Awards 2012, Winner Cross-Genre Fiction
Next Generation Indie Book Awards 2012, Winner YA Fiction
USA Book Awards, Finalist Best New Book 2012
USA Book Awards, Finalist Best Cross-over Fiction, 2012
Paris Book Festival Awards 2012, Winner YA Fiction
San Francisco Book Festival Awards 2012, Winner Teenage Fiction.
Next Generation Indie Book Awards 2012, Finalist Chick Lit Fiction
International Book Awards 2012, Finalist Best New Book
International Book Awards 2012, Finalist YA Fiction
Next Generation Indie Book Awards 2012, Best Cover Art

Please visit her at:
And her book blog at:


Write what you love with author @patriciabtighe

Several years ago, when I was having trouble with the plot of the book I was working on, I had a mentor tell me, “Write what you love.” By this she meant to use things that I love, that I’m enthusiastic about, in my story. Not only did it help to fuel plot ideas, but I was more excited about what I was writing.

Since that time, I’ve practiced this advice with every book I’ve written, especially when it comes to my characters. Part of their personalities, interests, and hobbies are things that I enjoy. In my first published book with Swoon Romance, LIFE IN THE NO-DATING ZONE, my main character Claire loves Legos—just like I do. I was able to use details from my own experiences with Legos when I wrote the scenes where she is building. Like me, Claire also loves to go bowling, which some people think is pretty geeky. I used that to create story tension when a guy disses her for it.

 In my second book in the series, LIFE IN THE LUCKY ZONE, my character Berger sees the world in a pretty quirky way. I love finding the humor in life, and he’s been one of my favorite characters to write because I’ve been able to let my goofball flag fly. I never worried about things being too weird. I just let him be as off the wall as he wanted. And it never hurts to laugh while you write. Plus, I’ve heard that my readers enjoy him too.😀

 My third book, LIFE IN THE DANGER ZONE, which is due out in October, has a main character who loves reading mysteries—just like I do. And on it goes. When I incorporate things I love into my books, I’m able to include details that I wouldn’t necessarily know if I didn’t already enjoy the activity. And the details can make a story and characters more real for a reader.

About Patricia B. Tighe:

The mother of two grown sons, Patricia B. Tighe lives in West Texas with her husband and dog. She eats way too much pizza, drinks way too much coffee, and watches way too much NFL football. On the bright side, she also reads and writes teen fiction. She promises to include as much romance, angst, and adventure as possible in her books.

Catch up with the author on Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

About Life in the Lucky Zone (The Zone, Book 2)

Seventeen-year-old Lindsey Taylor lives a charmed life—always the lead in school plays, possessor of a healthy entourage and a hot boyfriend. But then she gets dumped and screws up her audition for the spring play. The Theater teacher picks Trey Berger, a gamer who irritates her by simply opening his mouth, to run lines with her. Could things get any worse?

Trey can barely tolerate Lindsey. It’s bad enough their best friends are dating and he has to see Lindsey outside of school. Rehearse together? Trey would rather chill with his live-in grandmother who has Dementia.

As the semester continues, Trey discovers there’s more to Lindsey than the persona she puts on for everyone else’s benefit. And that Lindsey might be someone he could care about. A lot.

While Lindsey tries to change her luck and heal from the breakup, Trey slowly becomes her best friend. He makes her laugh and holds her when she cries. Could he possibly become something more?

Find out more here!


Ashes and Fire2You can find Fire in the Woods and Ashes in the Sky at all these awesome bookish places!

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Kobo | Chapters Indigo! | iBooks | IndiBound |

Catch up with me on social media!

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Pop Goes My Brain! This is My Worst Editing Nightmare! With @carolinetpatti

My worst editing nightmare? That would be the whole process of writing Into the Dark, the book that precedes Into the Light.

Into the Dark began as a story called Seven Days. Very often I write a prologue, which I then don’t include in the book.

Prologues serve as jumping off points for me, but once the book is written, I axe the prologue because it seems unnecessary.

Here is the prologue that got me started writing Seven Days:

Six days ago I died. Only I didn’t cross over or see a white light, or an angel, or any of the stuff you see in movies and read about in books. Instead, I landed in the body of my best friend, Millie. Now I have a choice to make. Stay in her body and live my life as hers, or leave it, and kill us both. I have one day left to decide. What would you do?

Just typing that now makes me shudder.

The writing isn’t very good. And I certainly would never pose a question to a reader. 4th wall break! But that is where I was with my writing at the time. And I can’t exactly fault myself because “everybody’s got to start somewhere.”

I submitted draft after draft of Seven Days to my then agent and she kept telling me how much she loved the story—she called it galvanizing, a word I had to look up—but the writing needed work. This went on for YEARS. But the book never went where my agent wanted it to go. She eventually dropped me. And really, can you blame her?

No._00000She suggested I take a master class, but my ego wasn’t ready to listen. A while later, my ego in check, I reached out to Georgia McBride, who at the time did free lance editing work, and begged her to whip my writing in shape. It still took a long time, but eventually I learned the difference between telling a story and crafting a novel.


I submitted Into the Dark for publication in 2014. That “final” version was the eighth draft, as in I’d written the novel eight times from beginning to end. I began writing the story in 2008, and by 2014 it was nothing like the original version, barely recognizable except that the premise, or rather the conflict presented in the original prologue, was still the heart of the novel.

Accepted by Month9Books I thought, FINALLY! I’m finally finished writing and revising this novel. And then I opened the email from the editor. Her note:

It would work better in present tense.


There was definitely some crying. Maybe a lot of crying. But I rewrote the whole thing, changing each verb, and struggling with how to write flashback scenes, until the whole novel was in present tense. It took me the entire summer of 2014.

That’s my editing nightmare. My Everest, if you will. But I made it. I think. =)

About the Author:

Caroline T. Patti is the author of the Nettie series, which includes: The World Spins Madly On, Too Late to Apologize, A Little Faith and Life After You (Sept. 2015) She also wrote Into the Dark published by Month9Books. Caroline is a former teacher, librarian and coach. She lives in Northern California with her husband and two daughters.

When she’s not writing, she’s probably on Twitter.

Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads

About Into the Light:

Mercy’s family is back together and the threat of danger appears to have passed. But any relief she feels is short lived as she is ripped from her body and thrown in jail. Gage and Nathaniel’s plans to break Mercy out won’t exactly be easy. Stuffed full of a chemical binding agent, Mercy is trapped inside the body of a convict without the ability to breach and set herself free. Unfortunately for Mercy, being trapped in jail becomes the least of her problems when she meets her evil twin, Justice.

Find out more about the book at:

BAM | Chapters | Amazon | B&N | TBD | Goodreads

Giveaway Information: Contest ends August 29, 2016

  • One (1) winner will receive a scrabble tile book cover charm (US ONLY)
  • Five (5) winners will receive a digital copy of Into the Dark and Into the Light by Caroline T. Patti (INT)


Sign up for the Rafflecopter HERE!


Why Does my Creative Mojo Need a Kick in the Butt? AKA: What is Editing Block?

I am one of those annoying writers who NEVER experiences writer’s block. Yeah, I know. Go ahead and spit at me (I’m protected by an alien enhanced force field <AKA a computer monitor>)

But what I do experience once in a while is EDITING block. It is when you are reading your own story, and you hit a section and say, “This is unrealistic. This character wouldn’t do/say this right here.”

So, like a good author, you think it over.

This is when “editing block” comes in. You look at your outline and carefully placed scenes that support you character arcs and plot, and decide: “It has to be here to support the arc.” And let it go.

Arghhh! PictureI did this through 12 drafts of my current WIP. I had an important scene that had a pivotal even occur. After this pivotal event, the characters involved have a conversation about two topics. One topic was far too personal for them to have at this time. The other, although placed correctly to make the rest of the story work, seemed odd for them to talk about after the stressful pivotal event.

I knew this, but I did nothing about it, because I couldn’t figure out another way to do it.

Then I sent the novel out to my beta readers. I love/hate it when they tell me what I already know. In this case, the chapter wasn’t working. [Smacks head against keyboard] But for some odd reason, after the third person told me this, I had an epiphany.

For some odd reason, after the third person told me this, I had an epiphany.

It was a really long chapter. I could split it up into three shorter chapters, and spread the conversation out over a few days.

Yes, this sounds stupidly easy, but it didn’t occur to me early on. I needed that extra push of SOMEONE ELSE telling me it was bad, before I had the creative mojo to figure out how to fix it.

And guess what? Not only did it work, but the entire flow of the novel feels better. Total score!

Have you ever overlooked something your gut told you didn’t work, and then got smacked by a beta reader for it? Does this light a fire under your but to get it fixed?


Fire in the Woods CoverFind Fire in the Woods at your favorite Bookseller

Amazon | | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Chapters Indigo! | iBooks

85424-ashesinthesky-v6-book2-final-v3Find Ashes in the Sky at your favorite Bookseller

Amazon | | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Chapters Indigo! | iBooks | iTunes

Catch up with me on social media!

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Keeping it Real, but Making it Funny: Tips and Trick to Writing Humor

My funny bone is broken, so I invited author Jennifer DiGiovanni to chat about writing believable comedy.

So, Jennifer… Three goats walk into a bar and…

Writing funny is harder than it seems, but even the saddest stories need a bit of levity now and then.

Whether you’re trying to write hilarious, laugh out loud dialogue, or simply float a smile in your reader’s mind, you can learn to use humor effectively in your stories.


Funny = Timing

ClockPay close attention to the timing of a scene when using humor. Take a look at where you are within the framework of your story. Has a tragic even occurred in each of your last three chapters? Maybe you could add a dash of lightness and help your characters find the humor in some small part of their dire situation. You may also want to inject humor into plot twists to make them more shocking or effective. If a couple is secretly dating, they could be discovered when someone finds a love letter. Or, the love letter could become a text message filled with silly terms of endearments and heart emojis that’s accidently sent to out to the whole school.

Build on realistic situations to amp up the laugh factor

Mad Scientist Doctor PKO_0002493If you base a scene on a real life situation, think about how you could *realistically* extend the drama to make the scene funnier. Take the example of a lab experiment gone awry. Personally, I was never very adept at handling animal dissection or the sight of blood in the science lab. Memories of AP Bio still make me shudder. Did I ever actually get sick or pass out in class? No. Could it have happened? Very easily. If I’d skipped breakfast, if someone called me out on the green tint to my face or if some other unexpected problem occurred during the lab experiment. Taking this one example, you can easily find ways to build the scene to a tipping point and then unleash a bit of humor. Just remember to ask yourself with each new twist and turn, could this really happen?

Finding Humor in the Simple Things

PKO_0001507 tired pink robeYou can also use more subtle humor to lighten up a scene. Minor ironic situations often draw a smile from a reader. As a teen, and even today, I loved to sleep in, but for some reason I’m never able to achieve the solid eight to ten hours I believe I deserve. Do you know how frustrating that is? Whether it’s someone waking me up to ask me if I’m sleeping in, a sleepwalking child passing through my bedroom, or the squirrel tapping on my window, there’s no worse way to start my day than being shaken out of a deep sleep. Thus, this typical everyday situation can serve as the basis for a relatable and funny situation within your writing.

Rely on Beta Readers and Critique Partners

To help with humor, rely on your beta readers and critique partners. Something may seem absolutely hilarious the first time you write it. Fifty drafts later, you may not even find one shred of humor on the page. Are you tired of reading your own words or is what you write truly not funny? This is where beta readers and CPs help. They bring fresh eyes to a manuscript and help you pinpoint what truly is funny in your work. They can also tell you when you’ve crossed the sensitivity line. If I’m ever unsure about something I’ve intended to be funny, I’m always grateful to have an honest writing friend’s opinion.

Practice, practice, practice

Writing humor takes practice and gradually, it should feel more natural to infuse in your stories. Also, funny situations and ideas often come out of nowhere, so be sure to jot down or text yourself notes to help remind you later, when you sit down to write that next humor-filled chapter.

School days don’t get easier just because you’re a senior! It’s the final semester of senior year, and everyone at Harmony High can’t wait to find out the results of the Senior Superlative votes! But the balloon bursts in Sadie’s face when she discovers she’s been voted “Most Likely to Get Married” to Andy – a boy she’s never dated or ever thought of as a potential boyfriend. Completely and utter mortification sets in. To prove high school means something more than a Senior Superlative award, Sadie and her best friend Jana decide to create their own list of awesome non-academic achievements to be completed before graduation. Yet, the harder Sadie works to show everyone she’s not the least bit attracted to Andy, the more appealing he becomes. Typical for the girl who can’t seem to achieve anything important, even the completion of one lousy college application. When senioritis kicks in and the school year dwindles down to mere weeks, Sadie decides to risk her good girl reputation to prove that an Awesome Achievement means much more than any Senior Superlative vote. By the time Sadie realizes her epic screw-up, she just might have lost her chance at the prom date of her dreams.

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Releasing in September: My Disastrous Summer Vacation (a novella) – and – My Junior Year of Loathing



Are there any real differences between fiction and nonfiction?

Today we have a guest spot from Eli Celata about fiction and nonfiction. Eli  is currently attending Binghamton University as a  doctoral student.

To some, it may seem as if there  is a cavernous abyss between nonfiction and fiction. The truth is simpler. Both require dedication. Long hours are spent seeking the perfect word or citation for  a fact. As a PhD student, I’ve pulled all nighters for peer-reviewed articles  just as much as fiction contracts. Time and effort aside, there are two main  areas where they differ beyond the obvious: phrasing and publishing.

Phrasing is a delicate business.

For fiction, I’d refer you to Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying. Each character’s sections have varying tempos and lengths to  their sentences. Word choice is generally less academic in fiction though some  literary fiction pushes the bounds at times. Nonfiction attempts continuous  flow. Pacing doesn’t change between scenes but is meant to guide the reader  from one conclusion to the next without leaving them harried. This is  especially important in nonfiction as books aren’t as likely to dramatically shift your career as the articles surrounding.

Shakespeare guyManuscripts (fiction and  nonfiction) go through much the same process. Nonfiction is more likely to be  presented pre-completion; however, just like fiction, a platform is necessary  for any agent or publisher to take such a proposal seriously. The real  difference comes in literary magazines versus academic journals. Peer-review is  stressed in academia. This means, instead of a professional editor, the  nonfiction article goes to professionals in the field. Your writing isn’t all  that’s under scrutiny. Everything moves outwards: How will your article alter  the field? Does it contribute to an existing problem? Does it create a new  problem? What are its broader impacts? All these questions and more precede  everything else. If any of the answers are troubling, an otherwise perfect  article will be rejected.

It can be summed to this: In  fiction, if you change the craft, you’re brilliant. In nonfiction, it’s simply another day at the office.

  Eli Celata

HighSummonsAbout High Summons:

Jon  Blythe is sick of waiting for his Yoda. After years of hiding his magic, he’s  ready to retire from his mortal life, drop out of college, and jump into the
world of demon hunters. He just didn’t really expect a bleach blond bookstore
clerk with light up toys for weapons. Unfortunately, Jordan is Jon’s only hope.

When rogue magic users come to Rochester with a malicious plan, the odd  couple strikes out to save the day. Jordan might not be what Jon expected, but  between demons and Econ homework, the demons win every time. Wild nights drag  Jon further from normal into the world where his father vanished. Maybe he’s  becoming an addict. Maybe magic just comes with a price. Either way, he’s  hooked.


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