• Who We Are

  • Schedule

    Mondays ~
    Tuesdays ~ Snarky
    Wednesdays ~ Dreamer
    Thursdays ~ Naughty
    Fridays ~ Dreary
    Saturdays ~
    Sundays ~

    Whenever ~ Smokey, Mighty, Eerie and Wicked

  • Snarky’s Tweets

  • Kinetic’s Tweets

  • Dreamer’s Tweets

  • Wicked’s Tweets

  • Eerie’s Tweets

  • Mighty’s Tweets

Editing Tips- After You Think You’re Done

paper and pencil

You write something awesome, reread and edit it multiple times, maybe get an editor, and you think you’re done, right? Wrong. After being in a critique group for four years, I’ve learned some invaluable things that every writer should consider.

  1. The first time you introduce a character, use his or her name.
    1. Example: “She rolled and struck him in the chest. Hot blood oozed down her hand as his screams filled the air. Heather smiled.”
    2. Instead: “Heather rolled and struck him in the chest. Hot blood oozed down her hand as his screams filled the air. She smiled.”
  2. After that, you can mostly just use pronouns (he or she), unless there are other characters, and it’s getting confusing.
    1. Example: “Heather liked to watch people die. Heather waited until the life drained from their eyes, then went on with her day, feeling like she’d had a dozen cups of coffee.”
    2. Instead: “Heather liked to watch people die. She waited until the life drained from their eyes, then went on with her day, feeling like she’d had a dozen cups of coffee.”
  3. Put down your work for a minimum of a few weeks, so you can read it with fresh eyes.
    1. There have been COUNTLESS times I’ve received feedback and disagreed with it. Then, week or months later, I read my work again and realize I was wrong. When you are too “close” to your work, it’s hard to see the truth.
  4. Read through your work, look specifically at the adjectives and adverbs to see if you are over-using them or could remove them and use a better word.
    1. Example: “She spoke loudly.”
    2. Instead: “She shouted.”
  5. Don’t forget your character’s thoughts and emotions. Without them, you have more of an outline of a story rather than a story.

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8 Reasons to be an Indie Author

Girl and Dog

  1. You have control over your own cover designs.

 I remember going to a writing conference where the author said she cried when she saw  the cover designed by her publishers. She’d written (I believe) a historical romance, but the cover looked like it was for an action movie.

It took me awhile to get covers that I love. But now that I have them, I’m beyond proud. And as an indie author, I didn’t have to settle on what someone else wanted for my book.

  1. You get to create your own timeline to finish your work.

I once heard a very popular writer speak. It was surprising when someone asked her about how she was able to write so many books. She said she was given deadlines by her publishers, and whether or not her books were always well-written, they had to be turned in by a certain date.

I’ve had periods of time when I could write a lot, and other times when I had no time to write. And when I’m not yet making a living wage off my writing alone (like most authors), it’s nice not to have to follow someone else’s timeline. It is also really nice to not have to publish subpar work, just for the sake of meeting a deadline.

  1. You can monitor your sales on a daily basis.

I check my author KDP sale’s page at least a couple times a day. It is beyond thrilling to see, right away, what is selling and how much is selling. When The Sea Goddess first came out, it wasn’t uncommon to see ten downloads in a day. Now, most days, I see an average of two sales. Then, almost randomly, I’ll suddenly see a huge spike in sales. Realm of Goddesses is purchased less often, but it costs more. To Kill a Wizard sees the least sales (at $2.99), but because it is on KDP Select, I see profits from pages read. That is so cool! When a person picks up my book and reads the entirety of it in three days, I feel awesome! And as an indie author, I can see exactly how many pages my readers read each day.

  1. You can write according to whatever inspires you that day.

Everything I’ve published is in the young adult fantasy genre, but I’m currently writing in a number of genres. I’m almost finished a new adult short story for an upcoming anthology. I’m working on an adult fantasy romance. I finished an anti-utopian new adult short story. And recently, I wrote up an idea for a sci-fi romance. As an indie author, I’m able to write whatever I want.

  1. You have the ability to work with other authors on different projects.

I work with several different authors, who write in different genres. Our first anthology will be coming out soon, but I predict there will be many more anthologies in the future.

  1. You can choose the different platforms to make your work available on.

I’ve used Smashwords, which makes my work accessible on: Apple iBookstore, Sony, Kobo, B&N, Aldiko, and others, as well as (of course), Amazon.

  1. You are able to price your work the way you want.

Making my first short story free has led to a number of sales on my other two works.   I’m sure a lot of traditionally published authors wish they could do the same.

  1. In other words, you have almost complete control over your work.

From covers, to hiring your own editor, to following your own timeline, indie writing offers you the control to complete your work just the way you want. So that project you’ve spent weeks, months, or years writing, can be handled just the way you wish.

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Critique Groups

critique group

A critique group can be defined as a lot of things, but to me, it’s simply a group of people who get together to go over their writing. If you are a writer and you aren’t in one, I highly recommend either joining one or creating one. I spent years writing on my own, working my hardest to reach my goal of becoming a published author. Yet, it wasn’t until I joined a critique group that I not only grew a lot as a writer, but had the confidence and knowledge to become a published author.

But what makes a successful critique group?

  • The most important thing is that all the members have personalities that work well together. If everyone can’t get along, they can’t work together.
  • Trust is equally important. If you don’t trust the members of the group, it’s hard to accept and give critiques. The whole experience leaves you pretty vulnerable, which means you need people there you know want the best for you.
  • Depending on your groups goals, the members should always be thinking, “what can we do to improve their story so it can be published?” If the members are just trying to tear apart your work, the group isn’t helpful for anyone.
  • Keep the group small. More than ten members would make it very difficult to have time to read and review people’s work (well). I actually think five or so members is plenty.
  • Meet regularly. Every two weeks seems to work well for me, but each group will have different needs.
  • Submit each meeting. The only way you’ll see a lot of growth is if you have regular feedback. Each meeting you’ll try to apply the comments from the last meeting so that your problems change and minimize. This really helps your growth as an author.

I asked my fellow critique group member and friend Aeon Igni her thoughts about the benefits of a critique group, and I think her response was brilliant:

“If you’ve ever read Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich, you know that much of business success comes from individuals grouping together to accomplish greater tasks than any one person could accomplish alone. A good writing group gives an author this power. With several minds focusing on their process, product, and career rather than their single mind, it is almost assured that the end product will be exponentially greater than what the author could create without this feedback.

Critique groups share information, techniques, tips and tools of the trade, as well as powerful brainstorming sessions and constructive criticism. We can see the power of critique partners and critique groups among published authors today – many authors I follow reference each other on social media and post pictures of themselves dining out or taking cruises together. 

For me personally, it is comforting to know that I don’t have to go it alone – that there are others to turn to when I am struggling or need advice. Even a simple text with an article to read or asking how my writing is coming along can be powerful motivation to keep moving forward. I expect that I will always be part of a critique group, and I can’t imagine a writing life without one.”

So if you aren’t in a critique group yet, find one or created one. It may be the single most important thing you do as a writer.

Favorite Books – by Tara Rane

Meme

 

I was given marching orders to submit a blog post about my favorite book in the genre I write in. That sounds easy enough. However, I ended up struggling for days.

The biggest challenge is that I write in a genre that doesn’t exist. My genre is a place where horror, paranormal romance, sci-fi, and urban fantasy make out in the backseat while YA/new adult steers wildly behind the wheel. I haven’t come across many books that are mashups like the ones I write and that’s a damn shame.

So I’ll cheat and pick a favorite book or series from each of the genres that influence my writing.

Horror: The Stand by Stephen King. It’s a fantastic apocalyptic tale filled with rich and compelling characters that stay with you. Even though it has been years since I’ve re-read this book, I still think of Stu, Larry, Frannie, Nadine, and the Trashcan man often. If you haven’t read it, you’re missing out.

Paranormal Romance: Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series. With the interesting spin on Greek mythology and the combustible sexual chemistry between the tortured alpha male heroes and the take-no-shit heroines, these are fabulous reads. Speaking of Sherrilyn, I might just pee myself with excitement when I meet her at Phoenix Comicon in a few days.

Sci-Fi: Frank Herbert’s Dune. This book rocked my world when I read it over two decades ago. It still remains one of my favorites for its superb world building. Herbert went into such exquisite detail on the history, culture, and ecology of his world that you almost believe the planet Arrakis exists. True story. On our first date, my now husband confessed he’d never read this book. Can you guess what I gave him on our second date?

Urban Fantasy: Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series. I love these books because of the evolution of the main character. She goes from immature teen to badass hybrid vampire killer over the course of series. Jeaniene also manages to accomplish what few authors have. She keeps the sexual tension going between the heroine and her master vampire lover throughout the seven book series.

YA/New Adult: Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series. Don’t let the movie sour these books for you. The series is awesome. The heroine’s journey from a mouthy Dhampir student to a battle-honed killing machine takes you on a wild ride. It takes skill to buckle the reader into a roller coaster that spans six books, and keep you somewhere between gasping for breath, grabbing the tissue box, and fanning yourself much of the time.

I’ve shown you mine, now show me yours. What are your favorite books?

Like this post? Check out my website (www.tararane.com) and my blog (www.tararane.com/blog/)

@AshleyLadd is bringing her sexy trio of HER MEN to visit…#giveaway #erotic #romance

Today we are being visited by the lovely Ashley Ladd, mistress of steamy romance, where her heroine doesn’t have to settle for just one hunky hero. Not only is sharing a peek of HER MEN, her latest title from Totally Bound, but she’ll give one lucky commenter a pdf or epub copy! (Remember, we can’t reach you, if you don’t leave your email!)

Her Men–a contemporary erotic novella by Ashley Ladd

Forty-four year old Julie Weston has loved Timmy and James since her college days twenty something years ago. She’s fantasized about both all these long years, never able to choose between them.

Hoping Tim and James will attend, she attends their college marching band reunion. When both men show up her dreams are answered. They’re sexier than she imagined and she hopes they won’t be disappointed by her older self.

It turns out both men came just to see her again and neither is happy about the other’s presence. They fight over her, confusing her more than ever. It takes a hot ménage…or two…for her heart to decide which one she’s in love with.hermen_800

Fair warning…things might get a bit hot if you dare to read on…

“I’m so hungry—for you.” Tim twisted her hair in his fingers and pressed his lips to her forehead. “And I’m so hot, if you know what I mean.”
“Me too.” She was glad for her buzz, for the courage it provided. She longed to kiss him, wondered why he hadn’t kissed her yet.
“Let’s ditch dinner and…”
A shadow fell between them and James grabbed her away from Tim. “I’m breaking in. You’ve monopolized her all night.”
“But you don’t dance. You don’t like disco,” she blurted, surprised but thrilled.
“I do now. If it’s the only way I get my turn to see you, I’ll dance all night. I’m tired of waiting for you at the table.” James tugged her into his arms, ignoring Tim’s deathly glare.
“One dance, then I’m coming back.” Tim stalked away and grabbed a drink, which he downed in one gulp.
James’ warmth replaced Tim’s.
“Thank you.” She wiggled beside James hoping she could make him as hot as she’d made Tim.
“For rescuing you from Tim? You didn’t look as though you wanted rescuing.” James held her close but his nostrils flared and his eyes narrowed to mere slits.
“Not for tonight. For all those years ago you told him off for abandoning me. I wish I’d known. I also wish I’d done this.” Before she could lose her nerve, she pressed her lips to his.
He pulled back and gazed into her eyes, suspicion in his. “Are you drunk?”
Hurt and embarrassed she held up one finger. “I only had one drink. And I kissed you because I’ve wanted to do so for many years and I don’t want to let you go again without you knowing that, without knowing what it feels like.”
A low growl rumbled from James. Desire lit his eyes. Purpose firmed his lips. Without another word, he lowered his head and kissed her deeply, thoroughly.
He tasted so good, like steak and Cabernet and she couldn’t get enough. Her legs rubbery, about to give out on her, she clung to him. Her heart seemed to swell to triple its normal size. James’ was robust and passionate and full of pent-up longing.
“You wanted to kiss me too, all those years ago,” she muttered, touching his lips. It wasn’t a question. He tasted too good, was too mesmerizing to move away from.
“Yes.” The answer was long, drawn out and breathy. Full of emotion.
“Why didn’t we?”

Shall I bring you a cold cup of water? No? You sure? Then if you’re ready, come meet the mind behind the heat–Ashley Ladd…

If you were to hold a dinner party for six, who would you invite and share at least one question you would have for each? 

John Lennon—What was it like in the early days to be a Beatle, when you were just becoming famous? What attracted you to Yoko?

Elizabeth Bennett—What was your life like after the honeymoon was over with Mr. Darcy? Or did the honeymoon ever end?

Mulan—Did you marry Shang Li? Did you go back to war?

Spock—Did you ever marry or have children?

Captain Kirk—How many women did you date? Do you like older women?

–((giggle)) I don’t think he’d turn you down…

Luke Skywalker—Did you find and train more Jedi Knights after you saved your father? Or did the Jedi die out after you?

–from what I’ve heard, Luke did more than train more Knights, but that’s another universe, far, far, away…

As children we tend to have an idea of what we want to be by the time we’re ten. Before you decided to pursue the artistic dream of being a writer, what did you want to be and why?

I wanted to be an astronaut and travel the galaxy with Spock and Captain Kirk. I wanted to discover new worlds and new civilizations – to go where no man has gone before.

If you turned your laptop/computer/pen/typewriter (yes, some of still use these!) over to your character(s), how would they describe you?

A frustrated, disabled vet who was turned down by the FBI to be an agent because of her hearing loss. Instead she lives vicariously through her stories with kick ass heroes and heroines, some who are military, some who aren’t, and all who make her happy in one way or another.

She adores her kids and grandkids, human and furry. She wants to be a crazy cat lady and would be more of one if only her family would permit it. They say four cats are two two many.

She loves the Beatles, moldy oldies, American Idol finalists, Star Trek, and watching movies on the big screen.

Ashley wanted to share Bobby with us, just to point out that crazy cat lady status is not something to be feared…Ashley Ladd with Bobby for Hat Interview

Personally, I tend to be a bit on the introverted side so the thought of being in the actual presence of one of my favorite writers makes my heart race, my knees shake and tangles my tongue (yes classic fan girl behavior). Who could reduce you to such a level and how do you imagine your initial meeting?

I’m like you, shy and introverted.

I admire Stephen King, Sherryl Woods, Tina Wainscott, Holly Jacobs.

–I know this short, little guy who travels with a Raven who’d love to be with you when you hook up with Mr. King..

I would get a frog in my throat and would have trouble spitting out mywords if I could even think of anything intelligent to say. My knees would shake and my stomach would be tied up in knots.

Actually, I know Holly from online when she still went by Holly Fuhrman and I’ve met her in person. She’s extremely nice.

And now that we’ve finished our tough questions, time for Ashley to dodge a few bullets…

  • Blades, guns, fists or feet?    Guns (I used to shoot trap with my dad – but I also like feet as I was a brown belt in Taekwondo too)
  • Favorite Fairy Tale of all time?      Mulan!
  • Sarcastic witticism, Southern sweetness or Geeky disdain?    Geeky disdain (I’m a HUGE Big Bang Theory fan)
  • Strangest item currently taking up space in your writing cave?    My husband’s mini fridge is sitting on the side of my computer desk!
  • Favorite supernatural creature?    Pegasus

 

Ashley Ladd lives in South Florida with her husband, five children, and beloved pets. She loves the water, animals (especially cats), and playing on the computer.She’s been told she has a wicked sense of humor and often incorporates humor and adventure into her books. She also adores very spicy romance, which she weaves into her stories.Ashley Ladd bio

How you can contact Ashley:
chinara@aol.com
http://www.ashleyladd.blogspot.com
https://www.facebook.com/ashleyladdauthor
http://www.twitter.com/ashleyladd
https://www.goodreads.com/AshleyLadd
http://www.shelfari.com/search/books?Keywords=Ashley%20Ladd
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=ashley%20ladd&sprefix=ashle%2Caps&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Aashley%20ladd

BUY LINK:
https://www.totallybound.com/her-men

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Writers…

Change has come to stalk the Wicked household, or more specifically, for Wicked herself. It’s a good thing she has three books out this year, because getting two more out next year is going to test her time management skills.  And here’s why…after many, many, many (add thirteen more) years of being blessed with a telecommuting position, Wicked has decided to take a newly opened path of gainful employment. Not that she strayed far from her original path, just laddered up to the parent employer and new challenges. Including the one where she has to dress like an adult and leave the house to pursue said challenges.

What this means, is now for an hour, one-way, Wicked and her brand-spanking new filly, must brave the crowded roadways, dodging carts and overdrawn carriages (no, that’s not a mis-spelling), stop at the new giver of pay’s offices, toil away for a set number of hours, re-brave the clogged travel arteries, and then kick off the torturous devices known as “heels”.  While on one hand, this is wonderful, on the other it meant re-organizing a writer’s schedule.

Most writers hold day jobs while they craft their art. It’s not easy and something always has to be sacrificed (sleep, time, chocolate, homemade dinners, handcrafted gifts).  In this case, it meant the every other week meeting of like minds of the Evil 7’s critique group. A decision not easily made, mind you. After seven years with the Evil 7, I must take a reluctant step back.

There is no magical potion to imbue when trying to balance work, family, and writing, it comes down to your personal goals/needs. While I am behind on my writing counts for the last month due to all the upheaval, my overall plan has not changed.

One book from each series each year. That won’t change because I am a writer and this is something I’m willing to sacrifice for, to keep to.

While I’m uncertain how well my plans will be carried out, I’m determined to make it work. So it’s:

Monday through Fridays, get up, get the Prankster Duo out and Knight out and running, then gallop away.

Fulfill my contractual obligations for my pot of gold at the end of working person’s rainbow.

Come home, touch base, check in, ride herd over the three males and one fur rug.

When everyone’s settled in fighting off ogres, snipers and various other individuals of coded fame, I shall plant my butt in chair and pound out words of fancy while they battle in the background.

Saturdays shall become days of Writer Biz–marketing, blogs, and various sundry items that come with being a writer.

Sundays are mine–for family or writing or both, they are all mine.

So if I seem a bit quiet, don’t worry, I’m still here, just a tad busy settling into my well laid plans, and you can keep up with me at www.jamigray.com where my personal blog is updated each Wednesday. I’ll keep you posted on just how well it works out though. Maybe I’ll be able to give up the 8-5 to peddle my own magic formula.

Finally, I’m Finished!

My young adult fantasy novel was “finished” more than six months ago, maybe a year ago. Since then, I’ve been editing. Giving up. And editing some more. Last night at a ridiculously late hour, I finished.

Finished!

I am elated beyond belief. The next week or so I plan to go through and just read it as a reader, while still keeping an eye out that my changes have been implemented well.

Then the next step: sending it to my writing group.

In the last few years, I’ve read a handful of completed novels from my writing buddies. Every time, I feel a strange surge of pride and envy that they’ll actually finished something, that all their work is there in front of me. And now, finally, I’ll have something to hand over to them.

I know there will be more work to do after they give me their feedback, but I’m excited to focus on my next step. Even though, they’ll be lots of new questions I’ll need to figure out the answers to. For example:

If I go the self-publishing route:
• Should I create my own cover or pay to have one designed?
• How in the world do I create my own blurb?
• And then the even shorter/more difficult tagline?
• Do I hire a copy editor or hope that after a handful of eyes have reviewed it, it’ll be clean?

If I go the publisher route:
• Do I go to an agent or directly to a publishing company?
• What angle should I take with my query letter?

There’s a ton of other things I’ll need to figure out, but I’m so excited to be taking this next step. Wish me luck!

Multitasking to the Extreme

Right now I’m working on several things. Jumping between projects is either going to keep me focused on my writing, or drive me absolutely nuts, but I decided to shake things up a bit.

One night last week, I had a great idea for a short story. It started with an idea to create a character who lacked one of the five senses, so I’d have to push myself further with her other senses. Then, I created a “world” in which lacking this sense was actually safer than having it. From there, I tried to write a short piece with high tension. I have no idea if I succeeded, but I felt a huge sense of accomplishment when it was done.

During the week, I’ve been working on my “completed” young adult novel. The first forty-percent makes me so proud. The rest of it… well, I’m still editing… slowly making my way through it. The major things I’m still trying to work out are to make sure the timeline works, the romance makes sense, and still keep the tension high.

In the evenings, I’ve been working on my urban fantasy romance. I’m new to writing in this genre, so I’m excited to be trying something different. This is also a novella, which adds a new challenge. I’ve got to create a world, characters, and a fascinating plot with high tension, all in around forty-thousand words.

Now, I wish I could say I’m just one-hundred-percent focused on my writing, but I’m not. Life, my family and friends, still always comes first. I’m just trying to cut out a few minutes here and there whenever possible. I realized a long time ago that I’m a lot happier when I take this “me” time to get my ideas out on paper.

But all of this has made me curious; do you work on one piece at a time or multiple pieces? And whatever you do, why do it this way?

Writer Driven Writing

Last night I stayed up ridiculously late writing a short story. When I was finished, I felt a huge sense of relief. Sometimes when I get an idea, it takes months to finish, which can be stressful. I’m left with a constant sense of a story still waiting to be told.

This morning, however, someone asked me what the purpose of the story was and what point it was trying to make. I froze. There wasn’t really a purpose. Just an idea. A character. A world.

I re-read the story and still enjoyed it, but started wondering what a reader is looking for when they pick up a short story. Do they have the same expectations as when they read a novel? Are they just hoping to be entertained for a shorter period of time?

Honestly, I have no idea. Some short stories definitely send a message. They leave you wondering for days. While others keep you on the edge of your seat. And when you’re finished, you put it down feeling strangely satisfied.

But after a morning of reflection, I came to a startling revelation. I didn’t really care. When I started out writing the story, it wasn’t with any other purpose than wanting to get my idea on paper. And, I think, sometimes when I focus too much on my readers, the story I want to tell gets lost in what I believe others want to read.

So, my new plan is:
• To make sure everything I write is for me first
• To try to drowned out the voices of others, so my voice isn’t lost
• To write with no other purpose than to write

I hope that by keeping these goals in mind, my writing will be stronger, but also I’ll keep enjoying writing. No one wants their dream job to start feeling like a nightmare.

My Birthday

This week is my birthday, and it’s a milestone birthday (of sorts). It’s strangely bitter-sweet for me. As a middle child in a fairly large family, my birthday was always my favorite time of year. When life is never about you, it was amazing to have it completely revolve around me for one perfect day. But now that I am older, my birthday can’t revolve around me. It just can’t. Because with small children, every day is about them, as it should be. I am, however, hoping for a really amazing birthday, so getting older doesn’t come with that jagged-edge that I’m trying pretty hard to ignore.

I’m a self-reflective person by nature, so this time of year always gets me thinking. Have I accomplished enough? Have I been the kind of person I want to be? The truth is, I thought I’d be much further along in my writing career by now, but I also have things that ten years ago I only dreamed about. With all the things I haven’t accomplished, I can look at the loves of my life, my husband and children, and know that I am luckier than I could have ever hoped to be.

But I still don’t have to like that I’m getting older.

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