Tag Archives: Literature

Learning from someone else’s mistakes – How to NOT write a novel

I’ve been reading a lot of romance novels lately. Not because it is my favorite genre, but to help strengthen my skills in writing inner-thought and making an emotional connection between the reader and the character.

I recently read a book that was AWESOME at this.  I was totally engaged. I liked the heroine. I cared about her. I liked the hero even more. They were both complex characters with faults that drove their characterization, and I completely believed them and felt like part of their lives. It was everything I wanted in a novel. This author totally deserved the “bestselling author” splash on her advertising.

At the end of the novel, there was one of those lovely magic buttons nice and handy so I could buy the next book.

Did I buy the next book? No.

Wasn’t I interested in the story? Didn’t I want to know more?

Yes. I totally did. I was ready to stay up late and read more.

So why didn’t I buy the next book?

The author, despite being incredibly talented, lost my trust. The story was not complete. Not by a long shot.

The heroine is being threatened by her brother and a former boyfriend who raped her. She had been in hiding for years, but they found her. She needs to go home and face them because her mother is dying. The hero of the story agrees to go home with her so she is not alone. BAM. It’s over. If you want to see what happens, you need to buy the next book. There isn’t even a neat, tidy closing thought to make the novel feel like it ended, like “I would be fine, I knew I would be fine because we would face this together.”

Nope—a closing line like that was not there. The chapter just ended, and the next page prompted you to buy the next book.


Now, if this had been a free read, I totally would have cut the author some slack. I would have purchased the next book. Call me snobby, but I expect a story to be complete when I pay $5.00 for it.

But maybe I was wrong. Maybe I misunderstood. So I checked to make sure there was not a worded warning like “part one” that I overlooked.

Nope. Nada.

I went from being a wildly enthusiastic fan to a lukewarm, disappointed reader in a matter of seconds.

But the novel was great. Why wouldn’t you buy the next one?

Like I said, she has lost my trust. Will the next book finish the story, or will I be prompted to buy another book? I don’t know. I cannot trust that I will ever see a satisfying ending.

For now and probably forever, I will see this author’s name and red flags will pop up all over the place.

Why not just tell the truth?

Now, if it was stated up front that this was an add-on series, a work in progress available in installments (and priced at $.99 rather than $5.00 each) I would have totally slipped the next book in my cart. In fact, I think that’s an awesome idea.

But you just need to be honest about it.

Don’t lie to your readers.

Would I recommend this book? No. Absolutely not.

I sure did learn from it, though.

What would you think if you finished a book, and it totally left you hanging… Holding you ransom until you paid to find out what happened?


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An Example of Nailing the Setting

I recently picked up a historical novella to clear my head between longer novels.  Terri Rochenski wrote a short story in the Make Believe anthology that I really enjoyed, so I reached for her newest work “Alone No More”.

From the title, you get the gist.  Our MC is alone in love, and at the end she gets her man.  Romance never has a surprise ending, does it?  It’s probably the only genre where this is completely acceptable.  It’s the journey to the couple getting together that is the fun.

So, let’s talk about the setting.  Rochenski has a way of drawing you into her world in the first few pages, and never letting go.  Be it the costumes, technology, language, or just the general feel of a world or time period, Rochenski nails it.

Normally for me, this would be a drag.  I hate too much detail, but Rochenski is one of those authors who has figured out how to gently weave in the important parts of the world without slapping you in the face with laundry lists of details.  You envision a character walking through a room and noticing things around her, or you travel down a dirt road in a swaying cart. The details are interspersed inside the action.  Very well done. I like to read works like this on hopes that some of that setting flair rubs off on me.

If you are looking for a short, quiet historical I would highly recommend this.  Adrenaline junkies would find the middle of  “Alone No More” a bit long and uneventful, but this does happen in love sometimes… especially in an authentic historical setting.  I would recommend this book for the setting in itself.

Pick up a copy of “Alone No More” for some quiet holiday reading (Only $1.49 on sale at the White Rose Web Site.)  Everyone loves a sale this time of year!

AMAZON   /  The Wild Rose Press


I really didn’t like this book – but I’m still giving it four stars

I finished “18 Things” by Jamie Ayres a while ago, and decided to let it sit a simmer before I wrote a review. I considered not writing a review at all, because I’m not sure how to give this book, and the brilliant author, the justice she deserves. The fact is, I really didn’t like this book at all, but I’m still going to give it four stars. Let me explain.

This book grips you from the very first page and thrusts you into a nearly unending roller coaster of emotion. The story is about a girl who witnesses a tragic accident that takes her best friend and secret love’s life. (That’s not a spoiler – it happens in the first few pages.) From there on out, the book is about dealing with loss—overcoming this loss by creating a “bucket list” of 18 things to do.

Crud! Just writing that brought tears to my eyes again!

This is the thing. I read for enjoyment – to escape everyday life. This book is NOT THAT. I cried pretty much from the first page to the last page with a very brief tear-free intermission in the middle. Let me tell you – I have enough problems…I don’t need to be depressed while I’m reading, too!

Disclaimer – I sent this review to the author before I posted it… and she was surprised that I cried so much. She felt the “middle” was fun and light. I did feel the “intermission” but it was short lived for me. (Sorry)

But see, here’s the problem. I wouldn’t give a book a low rating because it was written so well it made me cry. I think it had exactly the emotional response that the author wanted. I couldn’t even deduct a star for lack of explosions, because there was one in the first few pages (well, kind of anyway)

So, why four stars instead of five?

For one thing… this is supposed to be a YA paranormal. I’d forgotten the genre while I was reading, because nothing paranormal happens. I understand why it was placed in the paranormal category (Can’t explain or I’ll spoil it), but this IS NOT a paranormal. If you only enjoy paranormal, you will probably cry through this and be frustrated – but I think that is a category error, not the author’s fault. So I’m not subtracting a star for that – I just thought I’d mention it.

All that aside — Here’s the reason for four stars…

As the novel was winding down, I started to feel safe again. Everything came together nicely. I was readying myself to give it five stars, but at the same time explaining that I didn’t enjoy reading it.


We hit the last chapter.

Did you hear that annoying sound? It was me grinding my teeth.

I’m one for a great surprise in an ending. Totally love a twist – in most cases. This one, however, kind of bothered me. To be completely honest, I felt cheated. Does that make it not brilliant?

No. It was brilliant.

It just made me a tad miffed. No… I had it right the first time. I felt cheated. I also started crying my eyes out again.

My husband kept feeding me tissues and told me to stop reading. I said “No! I need to finish this so I can stop crying!”

So I am subtracting a star for the ending, although I realize it was needed to set up the possibility for a sequel. To me though, it felt added on to make room for the next book. I’d have given 18 Things five stars without the last chapter.

So, this is the scoop: This book is a brilliant piece of contemporary fiction about dealing with death and learning to live your life again. While there is a slight paranormal edge that you might miss if you blink, this is NOT a paranormal novel.

Readers of contemporary YA will probably love this. I, unfortunately, cried myself silly though the whole thing.

Keep it to yourself, jerk! — Rule #28 of 32 Simple Rules to the Writing the Best Novel Ever


I’m dissecting the article Hunting Down the Pleonasm, by Allen Guthrie, using it as a cattle prod to search for little nasties in my manuscript.  Yep, you can join in the fun, too.  Let’s take a looksee at topic #28

28: If an opinion expressed through dialogue makes your POV character look like a jerk, allow him to think it rather than say it. He’ll express the same opinion, but seem like a lot less of a jerk.

Hmm.  Depending on how this is used, he can still look like a jerk just thinking about it.

I’d like to expound on this and say be careful of making your main character unlikable. Period. I’m reading a novel for crit right now in which I really can’t stand the MC, and she has no concrete reason for doing the dumb things she does.  If I had picked up this novel in a bookstore, I would have put it back by now.

The author said “It’s good that you don’t like her. I’m doing my job.”

This author just doesn’t get it, and is waiting with bated breath for rejection #215 on her queries.

You need to connect with the main character.  No one is going to want to read about a character they do not care about.  They can be a jerk, but you have to make them relatable, and your reader has to care.

If you don’t have that engagement with your reader, you don’t have an audience.


Write a Story with Me #67 – Shayla Kwiatkowski “A good day for a court martial”

Write a Story with Me is a group endeavor just for the fun of it.  A different writer adds a new 250 words each week.  It is the ultimate Flash Fiction Challenge!

If you’d like to sign up, come on over.  There’s always room for more!

Here’s this week’s excerpt.  We hope you enjoy!

#67 Shayla Kwiatkowski (shaylakwiatkowski.blogspot.com)

“It’s a good day for a court martial, son. I am your superior officer and we are in the midst of a battle, in case you haven’t noticed. Now, man your battle stations or I will have you escorted to the brig. Do you understand? Son?” Yoran spat out.

The young officer quavered. This was the Yoran he knew and expected in command of his ship.

“And furthermore, do not confuse duty with weakness.” Yoran pulled himself up to his full eminence. If he could not control anything else, he must retain control of his ship. He’d seen strong men go down, and how the others circled like vultures.

Yoran pushed his gun to the officer’s forehead. “Or should I just shoot you now?” he hissed.

“No..no Sir,” the unfortunate man stuttered.

The MP’s entered the room, alerted by the push of a secret emergency button.

“Escort Officer Dawes here to the brig.. Crime: Treason.”

“Protector Sumner, I meant no disrespect! Please! I have served you well!” the prisoner cried as he was dragged away.

Another officer quietly sat at the abandoned station.

“Orders, Sir?” he asked calmly.

“Return to home port,” snapped out Yoran.

“Right away, Sir. Returning home.”

Yoran glanced at the affable young man, and wasn’t much surprised to see the flash of Fae in his eyes.

“There’s more of us than you know, Sir,” he whispered.

Yoran sighed. This was not going to go away. He nodded.

“Carry on then.”

Want to read more?  See below for past excerpts.

If you’d like to sign up, come on over.  There’s always room for more!

Parts One – Fifty Click Here

Part Fifty-One – Joe Owens

Part Fifty-Two – Shayla Kwiatkowski

Part Fifty-Three – Jennifer Eaton

Part Fifty-Four – Shan Jeniah Burton

Part Fifty-Five – Jenny Keller Ford

Part Fifty-Six – Susan Rocan

Part Fifty-Seven – Susan Roebuck

Part Fifty-Eight – Elin Gregory

Part Fifty-Nine – Nicky Wells

Part Sixty – Vanessa-Jane Chapman

Part Sixty-One – Ravena Guron

Part Sixty-Two – Julie Catherine

Part Sixty-Three – Kai Damian

Part Sixty-Four – Richard Leonard

Part Sixty-Five – Danielle Ackley McPhail

Part Sixty-Six – Joe Owens

Part Sixty-Seven – Shayla Kwiatkowski

Don’t forget to stop by next week to see what happens next.

Anmol — TAG!  You are “It”

Write a Story With Me Contributors

shayla kwiatkowski gryphonboy Jennifer M. Eaton Vanessa Chapman
Siv Maria Sharon Manship shanjeniah Vikki (The View Outside)
Danielle Ackley-McPhail Richard Leonard susanroebuck Jenny Keller Ford
aparnauteur kaidamian Eileen Snyder Elin Gregory
Joe Owens anelephantcant mysocalledDutchlife Nicky Wells
norahdeayjansen Julie Catherine Ravena Guron
Anmol     jiltaroo 4amWriter mywithershins

1 swivel

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Get up off your authorial butt – #BOOKBLOGWALKERS

This week I signed up for #BOOKBLOGBLOGWALKERS. It’s just one of those fun author things where a bunch of people who don’t know each other root together to better ourselves.

In this case, it is to get off our butts.

I have to admit that I’ve gained nearly ten pounds since I started writing three years ago.

But guess what? Just walking for 30 minutes a day since October second, I’ve lost almost three pounds.

Isn’t that awesome?

I’m also getting a little help from home, because my peppy poodle is in on the fun. If I try to sit down now, she goes and gets her leash. Nope. She’s not going to let me get lazy… and if I try to stop walking after one turn of the neighborhood (about 1/3 of a mile, ten minutes) she stops and refuses to come in.

Nope… not messing with a seventy pound dog with attitude. Anyway, she’s right. Mommy needs to get up off her butt more often.

I have to admit that I missed October first due to “life” getting in the way, but so far, I’d say it’s been fun… and losing pounds just by walking… can’t beat that!

What about you? Wanna sign up? Come on, walk with me a bit. It’s easy, and you’ll feel better, too.

It’s release day for my young adult story “The First Day of the New Tomorrow”

Yay! Release day is finally here!

I’m uber excited to release my very first published young adult title into the world.THEFIRSTDAYOFTHENEWTOMORROW-Banner

In “The First Day of the New Tomorrow” Seventeen-year-old Maya wakes up one morning to a bigger than life surprise– powers beyond her wildest dreams, but when things begin to go horribly wrong, will she find the strength to do what needs to be done?

Alien PKO_0003410And YES!  You will finally get to see me explode something!  The Little Blue Lady is so proud of me she could just spit, and that’s saying a lot.

The First Day of the New Tomorrow medium 333x500I hope you’ll hop on over to Muse it Up to pick up your copy today for the bargain new release price of $2.00 (available in all e-book formats)

You can also click on over to Amazon
or Barnes and Noble to pick up your copy. (They may go live later in the day)

After all, what’s a little explosion among friends?

I hope you love my  first romp in the wonderful realm of young adult literature!


Don’t sleep with him/her? Rule #19 of 32 Simple Rules to the Writing the Best Novel Ever


I’m dissecting the article Hunting Down the Pleonasm, by Allen Guthrie, using it as a cattle prod to search for little nasties in my manuscript.  Yep, you can join in the fun, too.  Let’s take a looksee at topic #19

19: Don’t allow characters who are sexually attracted to one another the opportunity to get into bed. Unless at least one of them has a jealous partner.

Umm…. What?

I’m staring at this, and trying to think about novels that were good, where there was a little bedroom time, but no jealous lover.

I have to admit… there are a lot… and they are fine. A sexual triangle just is not the main conflict of the story.

Sometimes the strong relationship between two characters makes the overall conflict (not necessarily a jealous partner) a deeper conflict, because the characters really care about each other.

Maybe Allen Guthrie has never read a romance novel? Maybe he just doesn’t like to read bedroom scenes?

What’s your take on this?


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A Review of “The Romance Novel Book Club” by Kastil Eavenshade

After crying my eyes out over the last novel I read, I REALLY needed a light fun read. I’d heard great things about “The Romance Novel Book Club” so I decided to give it a whirl. It ended up being a combination of everything I wanted, and also what I was trying to avoid.

Very mild spoiler alert: I will try not to give too much away.

“The Romance Novel Book Club” starts out as a whimsical story told in a great voice. We have a woman who reads a lot of Romance novels, and is looking for a whirlwind relationship like that in real life. The comparisons she makes to romance novels are truly hysterical, and for quite a long time I was reading with a smile on my face.

Then…. There was this shift.

Same girl. Same plotline, but after messing up her umteenth relationship, she begins dealing with an addiction problem that was a bit disturbing to me.

Addiction of every kind makes me want to yack. I find it truly sad that anyone could become totally dependent on anything. (Other than chocolate… that’s okay in my book. 🙂 )

Anyway… same great voice… same joking… but I began to seriously dislike the main character. At one point, she picks on a wayward waiter that she sets up as the “bad guy” – Normally I would have thought of this person as the bad guy, too… but I just ended up feeling sorry for him. I was considering stopping reading, until – quite to my surprise – the character admitted to her friend that she thought she might have an addiction.

For some reason, that admission – and also having the warm and fuzzy that the author MEANT me to have all those uncomfortable feelings, made me feel better. So I kept reading.

Thanks goodness that from that point forward, things started to get better. Once she had admitted to the addiction, she had the will to try to fight it, and I started to like her again.

So, yes, this is a book that will put a smile on your face, but it will also scare you a little bit. The author tackles a very serious subject. This is NOT a Romance novel. You might consider it an Anti-Romance novel. But there is a romance in it as well… and a happy ending, thank goodness.

Oh… and this is DEFINITELY for the 18 and over crowd.

Scratch that. 21 and over.

Maybe 25 and over.

Not for the kiddies. Get it?


A Review of “Dipping in a Toe” By Linda Carroll-Bradd @lcarrollbradd

I was just floored by this short story.  This little tidbit did everything it was meant to do.  It wet my appetite, and left me screaming for more.

Normally, I don’t like shorts, because I always feel like there is more to the story that I have not been told.  To an extent, this is no exception to that. However, this was so superbly written that I was left feeling satisfied with the ending, and not wanting to chuck my E-reader at the wall.

This is a very simple story about a single mother being attracted to her kid’s much younger swim coach, and what happens when he returns her attention.

While this is a very sweet story. (Not even any kissing) I found myself submersed in the heat between these two characters, and feeling every sensory perception relayed by the author.

My only fault is how short it is (I read it in two nights, but I could have gobbled it in one sitting if I wanted to)  I would love to read more about this new couple, and if there is a part two, I am reaching for it.

In general, I like fantasy or chase novels, and romance bores me.  This story, though, just blew my socks off without any TNT.  For the first time in a long time, I am looking up an author to see what else she’s written.

I can’t find any reason in this book not to give it five stars.  This is sweet romance at its utter and complete best.