What a Scene!: Four Ways to Improve your Scene Writing

What makes a scene engaging to your reader? I try to evoke at least two senses when describing a scene. Are there any smells? What does your character see? Is he or she touching anything? Does he or she taste anything? Don’t go overboard and bog your reader down with details. A little goes a long way. If you come up with a great description but already used a few, save it for the next time the character feels this emotion.

On top of solidifying what is around my character, I ask myself “If I were in this situation, how would I feel?”I then add in what my emotions would be like, or what I would be thinking if I were in a similar situation.

Also, if I want to describe a certain situation, I feel that emotion and describe it. For example, if I decide my character is angry, I remember the last time I was angry or think of something that makes me angry. Then I analyze what my body is doing. What does my face look like? I have a tendency to wrinkle up my nose when disgusted or angry, so I make my characters do this too! Did I ball up my fists? Are my teeth clenched? I also pay attention to my internal body settings. Is my pulse racing? Am I sweating (or would I be sweating in the situation I am describing)?

Now I’m going to throw a curve ball your way: Try to describe all this without using a form of the verb to be (like: am, was, is). Don’t say something like:

He was sweating.

It gets the point across but is boring. You can do this, but try to describe things using the verb to be sparingly. Instead shoot for:

The hot sweat trickled down his red face as he balled his fists up in anger.

Have fun with it! How many different ways can you describe the same emotion? Practice makes perfect.

To recap:

  1. Try to describe one or more senses (but no more than a few if it is a short paragraph. You don’t want it to get tedious to your reader).
  2. What does your character feel and what does this look like?
  3. Avoid the verb to be and try to use other verbs to keep the momentum going.
  4.  Practice, practice, practice!

10 Things I enjoy (and don’t enjoy) about December

I thought I’d do a holiday related post since it’s December. It will be a fun way to tell you a bit more about me. 🙂

I celebrate Christmas even though I am more pagan in my beliefs than Christian. I was baptized Protestant, and I think both my parents were, too, but my dad’s father was Catholic (so is my sister, but that’s another story). Somewhere along the way I picked up my own set of beliefs. I’ve always been big into nature and as a child felt that there were spirits in the world around me, so my spirituality began taking on a more pagan-like feel. That being said, I do believe in Jesus, but don’t believe he was born on Christmas. But I wasn’t there, so who am I to say.

At any rate…here are my 12 most (and least) favorite things about December:

Holiday Cheer List:

1) Black Friday: Every since my boyfriend, Brian, and I have been together I take his daughter, Vanessa, Black Friday shopping. We were talking the one day and she told me she had never gone before. I have fond memories of my Aunt Marie taking my cousins and I every year and thought I should continue on the tradition with Ness. She enjoyed it, so we go every year now to kick off the holiday season. With that being said…I hate shopping, but I love having an excuse to have a girls day out with Ness!

2) Bad Christmas Movies: If you’ve never watched almost every movie on the Netflix holiday list, you don’t know what you’re missing! My sister, Crystal, and I make a point every year to criticize, laugh at, and ultimately enjoy the cheesy Christmas movies on Netfix. I dare you to count how many end in a proposal!

3) Eggnog: Christmas day I always enjoy a glass of spiked eggnog with my mom. I usually enjoy regular eggnog as soon as I see it available in stores. It’s a great treat this time of year!

4) My Mom’s Butter Cookies: I guess any butter cookies are just amazing, but my mom introduced them to me so I’ll give her credit for this. I bought my own press so I can make the holiday shapes if she’s not making cookies. You can technically make butter cookies any time of the year, but I feel they taste best around Christmas.

5) Snow!: While I don’t enjoy driving in it, I think it is so pretty. I also used to snowboard every year since I was 19. Not so much lately. Before that, my sister and I used to play outside year round. In the winter, we would bundle up and venture through the woods for a walk or ice skate on my neighbor’s pond. Sometimes we would even make a fort in the culvert out front in our deep ditch. My sister and I would stay outside until our feet and fingers went numb, or my mom flashed the outside light signalling dinner was done.

Holiday Jeer List:

1) Christmas shopping: Did I mention I hate shopping? Compound that with everyone else in Western New York running to the store and my agoraphobia starts to act up. Boo!

2) Whiteouts: I don’t mean the corrective fluid for covering mistakes, I mean a legit snowstorm where you cannot see. I don’t mind watching it from inside, but if I have to drive in it I get a little stressed. Did I mention every car accident I’ve ever been in occurred in winter?

3) Cinnamon: Not much of a story here. The smell just nauseates me. And stores have a tendency to have cinnamon scented displays this time of year.

4) Bad Christmas Songs: While I enjoy bad Christmas movies, I don’t enjoy bad holiday song remakes. Bad music is always painful. It just is…

5) Getting up early: The main thing I hate about Christmas is having to get up early! I really don’t have to anymore…but you’re lucky you didn’t see me as a teen being woken up with a cowbell Christmas morning.

So I hope you enjoyed my list. I had fun writing it. We all have fond and not so fond memories of every holiday. Just grab a holiday mix pack of beer, cozy up with your loved ones on the couch, and enjoy the great things this season has to offer! There is beauty in everything if you just focus on it. 🙂

Merry Christmas, all!!!!

November 2017

As November comes to a close, I am left reflecting on what a busy end of 2017 this has been! For my fellow WriMos out there, I hope that you are celebrating your victories today. It doesn’t matter if you reached your 50k, you should still be proud of trying.

I only made it about halfway, but am still proud of how far I got. I mean I work full time, am in grad school part time, and have a family and other priorities (ugg..like cleaning my house). Plus, even though I didn’t reach my 50k, I have done it before so know that I can. On top of that, I had a great start to my next book, Blue. I want to make this longer than my other works, and am working hard to develop a good quality novel. To date I have either written short stories or a novella. I’m ready to tackle the novel.

And with November’s end comes the release of Secrets & Shadows! This collection of short stories contains two new editions of “Uncle Jerry” and “His Game.” And it is my opinion that spooky stories make for great Christmas gifts! Please add Secrets & Shadows to your wish list, or go to Amazon.com to purchase it for a loved one who loves suspenseful stories.

This collection contains some great new stories I know that you will enjoy. “Eve” is a tale told from the point of view of an unreliable narrator. It will leave you guessing. In “1:11,” Ryan Keller learns that not everything is as it seems in his house. The winter tale of “Snow Queen” is my nod to the Lockport-born author, Joyce Carol Oates. Because of the US political climate, “The Day the Soldiers Came” is an interesting tale of economic upheaval and possibly an alternate reality. “Unraveled” is a story inspired by true events told by one of my mother’s teachers. And “The Twisted Plane” is a .5 prequel to my unreleased, unfinished series, Lowertown. This story takes place in Rockport, my fictional spinoff of Lockport, NY. In this story, David Robinson learns that the monsters that he sees on tv can appear in real life.

If you’ve read my works and enjoy them, please share it with a friend! I also want to thank everyone who has taken the time to read my stories. I really appreciate it. I also want to wish everyone a happy and safe holiday season!

Secrets & Shadows

Who Doesn’t Love Puppy Pictures?

Meet Pup Pup (yes…his name is Pup Pup). Above is his baby picture when my boyfriend, Brian, first got him. Pup Pup, or Puppy Boy as we sometimes call him, is a Chihuahua/Dachshund mix. He is the youngest in the family at just about four-years-old. He frequently terrorizes my two Dachshunds who forget that they are much bigger than Puppy. That’s generally when we change his name to Puppy Jerk.

Every day, the three of them greet me at the door where usually Pup Pup growls at my boys for trying to get to me first. We think he has a bit of an anger management problem, but since he’s so little, it’s kind of cute. Once the boys are back inside, Pup Pup and I usually play catch for a bit. He loves chasing after toys and will be vocal if you are ignoring him when he wants you to throw his toy.

Pup Pup also loves being close to me and my boyfriend. If I am writing at the table, he will either jump in my lap (which some times makes typing difficult) or jump in the chair behind me and cuddle with my back. When we watch TV, he is usually in one of our laps, chewing on a toy. In bed, he cuddles up with my stomach and I wrap around him. We first bonded over our love of sleeping in. My boyfriend used to get up before me to go to work and would leave Puppy and I cuddling in bed. Now I get up first and am jealous of Pup Pup who is burrowed under the warm covers.

One of the highlights of my day is coming home to the boys. Their excitement over seeing me always brightens my day.

I hope you have enjoyed meeting Pup Pup. Soon I will introduce you all to Mickey and Maverick, too! I mean, who doesn’t love dog pictures? 🙂

Release News

Secrets & Shadows

I have exciting news! My short story collection, Secrets and Shadows, estimated release date is Black Friday, November 24th, 2017. This spooky collection of stories features newly edited versions of the formerly released short stories, “Uncle Jerry” and “His Game.” This collection has six never before released stories as well. Each story starts with a brief introduction on what inspired me to write it.

Meet Ryan Keller in “1:11,” a man who does not believe in ghosts or hauntings, but finds unexplained things are starting to happen to him. In “Eve,” a vengeful ex-girlfriend spins a suspenseful story filled with jealousy and lies. The United States’ economy crashes in “The Day the Soldiers Came,” leading to mobsters trying to muscle money out of citizens who decided to fight to protect their rights. “Snow Queen” is a strange, artsy tale inspired by Joyce Carol Oates.  Reality is questioned by James Glover in “Unraveled,” a story where a prank is taken too far. And in .5 of the Lowertown series (the prequel to a currently unreleased series), something strange is happening along the Erie Canal. “The Twisted Plane” features David Robinson (of the unreleased book two of the Lowertown series), a boy who learns that creatures of your nightmares are not only found on television.

I am really excited for this collection, and I hope you all enjoy reading it.

Six steps for a successful NaNoWriMo project

If you have never heard of NaNoWriMo, it is a celebration of national writing month. During the month of November, people who have a passion for writing shoot for a 50k word novel rough-draft to be completed in a mere 30 days. If you want to join in on the fun for the first time, or are a veteran WriMo, here are some tips that will help you make this November a success.

  1. Start with the basics. A great novel needs a great foundation. Brainstorm about your characters, what their problems are and how you want them to change. What will happen to them? What will your themes be? A simple “Good triumphs over evil” is fine,  but just knowing that that is what your story will show can help you to come up with plot ideas. An outline isn’t necessarily needed, but knowing the general direction of your story helps to move it along.
  2. Find a writing place that is free from distraction. Where are you going to write? Are there any distractions nearby that may derail your writing process? If so, you may want to rethink your writing spot. It doesn’t have to be in your house. You could set up shop in a coffee house. Most of them have wifi now, so you can write pretty much anywhere. But who says you need internet access to write anyway? I like to keep a dictionary handy. Yup. A legit printed dictionary. Why? Because sometimes if I pop up an internet window to get to an online dictionary I get distracted. “While I’m online, I’ll just pop on Facebook real quick…” That innocent little idea turns into googling how ice cream was invented and then I’m hours into my writing window and haven’t written a damn thing.
  3. Schedule yourself time to write. It doesn’t have to be daily, but in the case of NaNoWriMo, daily writing makes it easier to make your writing goals happen. Shoot for a half-an-hour after dinner. If you write for longer than that, great! If not, no biggie. There’s always tomorrow.
  4. Don’t make excuses to not write! This is most important. If you give yourself excuses as to why you shouldn’t write during your allotted writing time, then you will never do it. “Today I have writer’s block, so I’ll double up on my writing tomorrow.” Nope. Fire up that lap top or PC, open up your document, and start typing. If it sucks, worry about that later when you get to the editing phase. “But I have chores to do…” Do the chores after your  writing time is over. Trust me, my house is a disaster in November. People will deal. You have December to catch up on cleaning. There are only 30 days in November to complete your 50k writing challenge. Make every day count!
  5. Don’t forget to have fun! Remember why you started writing in the first place: you enjoy it. Have fun with your project. See where your characters go and don’t make anything easy for them. That will make it fun for your readers. Writing is a journey, and it is the journey that is fun, not necessarily the destination.
  6. Follow NaNoWriMo on Twitter or Facebook. They have great writing coaches to help you get motivated, so check out their pep talks on the NaNoWriMo website (https://nanowrimo.org/). There are even forums on their site for anything you could think to ask about. Also, there are other fellow WriMos out there who are wiling to help as well. Hit up the NaNoWriMo community for advice if you get stuck.

So don’t feel left out this November. Start brainstorming ideas, plan out where you will write and when, stick to your plan, and if you do get stuck, go to the NaNoWriMo community for help. There are some great WriMo motivators out there. Believe in yourself. And don’t forget to have fun!

Bring it November! This WriMo is ready. Who else wants to write a 50k word novel in 30 days? Let’s start this journey together.

 

Steamy Cogs

With October fast approaching, the official release of the SteamPunk romance, Steamy Cogs, is right around the corner! The release date is this Sunday, October 1st. My newest short story, “Sing of Song of Freedom,” is included in this compilation of four romantic shorts, written in the SteamPunk style.

Meet Zee, a naive young woman struggling to get back her lost memories. As images slowly start coming back to her, Zee realizes that she may have brought unintended trouble to her new friends, Alice and Dylan. A passion as hot as the desert sun is ignited inside Zee for Dylan, but she slowly realizes that another man is searching for her. Will everything unravel before Zee is able to piece together her memories in time?

This was my first SteamPunk adventure, and I enjoyed writing in this style. I just loved how the scenery is in the past, yet in the future all at the same time. It was quite different from anything I have written before, yet the themes running underneath it are ones that I revisit from time to time. All in all, it’s similar to a dystopian piece, but has its own unique feel to it. This story was just wonderful, and I would love to write another SteamPunk story one day.

So please check out the stories in the new collection by Eighth Ripple Press. All four authors have their own take on the theme, which leaves each story mesmerizing in its own way. I hope you enjoy reading our stories as well as we loved writing them! 🙂