Sunday, April 6, 2014

Writer's Corner Event: Tips From The Pros

As We Learn We Grow!

Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned pro, the smart writer always looks to improve their craft. The basic goal is the same. Write the best story that you possibly can. With that in mind, I gathered together tips from some of today's bestselling authors and writing gurus, plus suggestions for your virtual writing shelf. If you have a writing question for one of today's guests, don't be shy, post it in the comments section. Fan girl :squees: are also welcome. :)

Tip from author and writing guru Kat Duncan
How to Handle Details

Too Much Explanation
Sometimes in our rush to tell the story we forget that readers want to be entertained and that part of being entertained means that they might want to figure some things out for themselves. When readers are sharing a character's emotions, we should be particularly careful not to rob them of their pleasure by explaining too much.
Explanations rob events of their emotional impact.

What does this mean for authors? First, readers enjoy a bit of mystery. So, be careful how much detail you reveal about either what has happened, or what is about to happen. If one character becomes an ally of another character, don't rush to give a full explanation of why. Let the character tease it out of his new ally a little at a time. Second, don't show emotion and then explain the emotion afterward. This takes away some of the impact of the emotion. For example don't show Joe putting his fist through the wall and then have Joe's buddy Andy say, "You're mad at Jenna for standing you up, huh?" Instead maybe Andy could say, "I know why you're mad. Let's go shoot some hoops. You need to burn off some energy before you explode."

Readers will eagerly go outside with the character as they shoot those hoops, eager to find out the reason why Joe put his fist through the wall and hoping Andy will give them another clue. Even if that hoops scene lasts just a few paragraphs, it's deepening the reader's interest in the story and the characters. Draw it out, even a little bit. Third, you want your readers to keep thinking about mysteries and story questions throughout the story. So if you introduce a story mystery or question in chapter one, keep up the mystery, revealing little bits at a time, but skirting around the actual explanation until you're sure you've got the reader hooked.

Author of the writing craft book, Telling Grammar, Ms. Duncan's latest book is How To Handle Details. (FREE today! Head to Amazon and grab your copy now!)

The look and feel of your story world should include the kinds of details that can resonate with many different kinds of readers. With the information in this book you can learn more about those important details and how to use them to reflect your theme and message. Details are what this book is all about. When you are finished reading this book you will be able to immediately apply the strategies and techniques from this book in your writing. The examples and thorough explanations will guide you through eye-opening techniques that will build your toolbox of writer's skills whether you are prepublished or already on the cybershelves and bookshelves.

To learn more about Ms. Duncan and her books, or to learn how you can sign up for her writing workshops, please visit her website:

Tip from prolific, bestselling author N.J. Walters
Write On but Grow a Thick Skin 

One of the best writing tips I can give to aspiring and published writers actually has nothing to do with the writing process itself. My advice? Grow a thick skin. Writing is not a profession for the faint of heart. It is a job filled with rejection. No matter what you write or how acclaimed your book is someone will hate it and, at some point in your career, they will be compelled to tell you. Then there is the constructive criticism, which you’ll get plenty of from beta readers and editors. You have to disregard the hate mail, no matter how deeply it cuts you, and listen to the constructive criticism from those you trust. It can be discouraging when the book you’ve worked on so hard and poured a ton of sweat and blood into gets rejected. It happens to all writers are one point or another, and you have to suck it up and move on. Be professional and remember that this is a business. Publishers want to make money. And so they should. When they make money the writer gets paid.

Don’t think it’s all hardship. You’ll get many rejections in your career, but the acceptances are pure gold. And for every bad review you get, you’ll have many more readers tell you how much they loved your work. My favorite reviews are the ones I get from readers telling me how much they enjoyed a book or love a character. I’ve been brought to tears many times over the years by readers who have told me my books have helped them through illness or some tragedy in their lives. Those emails are golden.

Author of over seventy books and twelve different series, N.J.'s latest romance is Craig's Heart, book seven in her Legacy series.

Craig Lawton’s life is full. Filled with normal things like work as a video-game creator and financial investor, and not-so-normal things like two half-werewolf siblings and a vampire best friend. He’s accustomed to being the only human in the room…until he attempts to help a desperate, newly made vampire in the throes of her first transformation. 

Evie Pelowski is a woman alone. Left alone in a filthy alley to become a monster like the one that attacked her, unable to control the bloodlust surging through her veins. Now she’s done the unforgivable—turned her Good Samaritan into a monster just like her. They must face the future while coming to grips with their new realities. But despite a strong bond ignited by blood and forged in the heat of sexual desire, despite Craig’s unshakeable determination to teach her to trust, Evie knows nothing she loves ever stays. Especially when the vampire who made her wants her back—and he’ll kill anyone who gets in his way.

Samhain Publishing:
Barnes &Noble: 

Learn more about N.J. Walters' books on her website at:

 Tip from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author R.G. Alexander
         Stop, Look, and Listen

I hate rules. Usually when a writer gives specific technical advice the first thing I think is, “Damn, I’m doing it wrong!” But if I were going to pretend I knew what I was talking about for a minute and give you advice, beyond the “write what you love” and “don’t stop writing no matter what” truisms…it would be this: Stop, look and listen. People watch. And I don’t just mean their mannerisms or their dialect, I mean everything. Pay attention. Why do they move that way? What are they saying…now what are they really saying? Every story in our world is about people, even if it seems to be about a pet rock or a stuffed rabbit. Each character is a part of you, but each one shouldn’t be you. Collect the whole set. I think writers are  natural observers and empaths anyway…but practicing can't hurt. Oh and two more quick pieces of advice. Daydream at least once a day and don't pay too much attention to the rules of writing. Did I mention I hate rules?

Bestselling author of Dirty Delilah (Riding Desire Anthology Boxed Set), The Bone Daddy series, and Burn With Me (book one in the Fireborne series), R.G.'s upcoming releases include Make Me Burn (book two in her Fireborne series) coming out May 20, 2014, and Burn Me Down (book three in her Fireborne series) coming out October 2014.

 One wrong move and it all goes up in flames.

Aziza Jane Stewart is the last of the Fireborne, and so far it's been nothing but a curse, destroying her family and putting everyone she loves in danger. Now she's on a quest to find her brother's portion of the power that flows in her veins and track down the murdering Jiniyr who are a threat to her loved ones.  She and her Enforcer lover Brandon are officially "in a relationship", but she's still torn between two men who both set her on fire. Brandon's duties are driving a wedge between them, and her need to protect her Jinn guardian isn't helping. Exiled and stripped of his powers, Ram is focused on satisfying his darkest urges...and tempting her to come along for the ride.

When Aziza discovers Brandon has been keeping news of ritualistic murders from her and the evidence is pointing at Ram, all bets are off. It's time to find her own answers, embrace what's inside her and make her own rules, damn the consequences.

To pre-order Make Me Burn and Burn Me Down, please go to:

Learn more about R.G.'s books on her website:

Tip from NY Times & USA Today bestselling New Adult author Monica Murphy
         Finish The Book!

The best advice I can give is…just finished the book. It doesn't matter if it's good or bad or short on word count or too long on word count, just finish the thing. Once you do that, the feeling that comes over you is the best thing. It might not be perfect but hey, you DID IT. You wrote a book! And you can always fix it. Once I actually finished a book (and trust me, it's a huge piece of crap that will never see the light of day), it gave me a real sense of accomplishment. I realized hey, maybe I can do this!

Author of One Week Girlfriend and Second Chance Boyfriend, Ms. Murphy's latest book is Four Years Later.

New Adult bestselling author Monica Murphy winds up her sensational series with this sexy story of two college kids with nothing in common but a bunch of baggage and a burning attraction.

Over. That about sums up everything in my life. Suspended from my college football team and forced to cut back my hours at The District bar because of my crappy grades, I can’t keep turning to my sister, Fable, and her pro-football playing husband, Drew, to bail me out. I just can’t seem to find my own way. Weed and sex are irresistible temptations—and it’s messed up that I secretly hand over money to our junkie mom. A tutor is the last thing I want right now—until I get a look at her.

Chelsea is not my type at all. She’s smart and totally shy. I’m pretty sure she’s even a virgin. But when she gives me the once over with those piercing blue eyes, I’m really over. But in a different way. I won’t deny her ass is killer, but it’s her brain and the way she seems to crave love—like no one’s ever given her any—that make me want her more than any girl I’ve ever met. But what would someone as seemingly together as her ever see in a screwed up guy like me?

Barnes & Noble:

Learn more about Monica Murphy and her sensational books on her website:

Tip from USA Today bestselling author Marie Hall
Don't Be Scared To Write A Series

So often I'm asked to give a tip to aspiring writers, what's the one thing I can do that will help my career to thrive and grow?

For years I struggled trying to figure out how to write a series book. I'd be able to write book 1 and then freeze up at book 2, 3, 4, and so on. I just couldn't seem to get over the hurdle of what to do next. Then I created the Kingdom Series and Her Mad Hatter was so popular I knew I had to focus and write book 2. You have no idea how scary that proposition was for me. In over 8 years of writing I'd never written a sequel to anything. But because of reader expectation I knew I wouldn't have a choice. So I buckled down and asked myself what will I do, how can I do this? For me it was all about the lists.

Or more specifically, a character worksheet. There are many different options available online. All you have to do is type in character worksheet and you'll get a plethora of sheets. From sort of detailed, to crazy detailed. Like, what kind of gum they like? What fruit is their favorite? It sounds so silly, but the truth is if you can come to understand your creations as if they were a real, living person you CAN write that sequel. For me I realized I had done something to make it almost ridiculously easy for myself, Kingdom is all about fairy tales. Especially the villains, so I had many different references to look at to gain a concept on 'who' they were. Once I realized I had their blueprints available, I was able to bang out book after book after book. I'm now getting ready to write book 9 on that series, and I have at least three other series with several books out. One of the things I can honestly say is that readers love series, so if you've ever considered it but aren't sure you can handle a sequel, or it's too scary, I promise it's not. 

Ms. Hall's latest book is Rumpel's Prize, part of the Alphas After Dark boxed set.

Imp, deceiver, villainous mastermind… Rumpelstiltskin’s been called all these names and more, and for the most part, they’re entirely true. But there is more to the brooding, blond haired Adonis than brokering deals for the devil. He’s hiding a terrible, hideous secret. One that threatens to fray the already delicate strands of his sanity and reason. A secret that he’s desperate to make right, to see whole again, and there is no one and nothing that will stand in his way of getting what he wants—no one except a slip of woman with hair like fire and skin like finest porcelain. Something about Shayera Caron calls to the beast inside him and makes him question his motives for the first time in his life.

Shayera Caron is the daughter of the infamous Gerard Caron, former lothario of Kingdom but now a reformed rake and settled husband and father. She can go nowhere in her tiny hamlet without seeing the sneers of women and hearing the murmurings of their disdain for the blood that runs through her veins. Shayera is desperate to get away from the gossiping hens, so when Rumpelstiltskin rides into town, she doesn’t think twice before going wherever he leads. Only thing is Shayera is not as innocent as she might seem, for she hides a secret too. One that will bring the most feared man in all of Kingdom to his knees…



To learn more about Ms. Hall and her books, check out her website:
and her blog:

 Tip from bestselling author Clarice Wynter
Write What You Want To Read

The best writing advice I ever received was six simple words. Write what you want to read. This was the mantra that inspired me to start writing back when the kinds of books I enjoyed most were hard to find. It’s tempting to try to write for the market, and if you happen to like to write what’s hot at the moment, you’re lucky, but in the long-term I think writers are most successful and happiest when they stick to writing the books they’d be picking off the shelves as readers.

Ms. Wynter's latest book is part of the five-author Spring Fling Bundle released March 17th.

Spring Fling Bundle
Passionate rivalries, friends to lovers, scandal, redemption, second chances and a marriage in trouble.

Five hot romance authors steam up the pages of this collection with heat and sweet, a perfect combination of stories for you to fall in love with this spring.

 Wild for Mr. Wrong by Virna DePaul, 

Rough Ride by Keri Ford

, The Sweetest Seduction by Crista McHugh

, An Affair in April by Clarice Wynter

, and Between Then and Now by Zoe York
; .99¢  for a limited time only.


Google Play:
All Romance eBooks:

Learn  more about Ms. Wynter and her books at her website:

Tip from author and writing guru Jodi Henley
Eliminate The Sagging Middle

Saggy middles are a symptom of da-da-da pacing, or pacing that doesn’t escalate. The best way to fix a saggy middle is to escalate what’s happening in the story. Whether it’s an internal or external, it needs to get bigger (figuratively) and more important as the story races toward the climax.

An easy way to check for escalation is to ask if 1) Are story events getting harder to overcome (maybe the bridge washed out and the hero’s kid is on the other side with the villain)? 2) Are internals getting more difficult to overcome (worry that she won’t get there in time turns into outright fear and panic when she “knows” she won’t get there in time)?

Ms. Henley's most recent book is Practical Emotional Structure.

Fill Your Book with Spark, Depth and Emotion!
Has an agent or editor said you lack "spark"? Do people have a hard time connecting with your characters? Your people are isolated, disenfranchised, inwardly full of emotion, fabulously supportive and wounded--why don't people get that? If you have a hard time getting your showing words to mean something, can't create the complexity or depth you need in your story, and don't like black and white rules, turbocharge your story with Practical Emotional Structure. A simple, plain-English craft of writing guide designed to connect you with your readers using emotional theory and the power of the transformational character arc.


Learn more about Ms. Henley, her books, and her editing services by visiting her blog:

Tip from bestselling author Catherine Spangler
Read, Read, Read, Write, Write, Write!

Hello! I’m delighted to share writing tips with everyone. Some of these sound repetitious, but I believe they’re tried and true. My first tip is to read. Read, read, read! Read a lot in the genre you’re writing, to see what’s selling, and to get the voice and nuances and language of that genre. Also read other genres, because good writing is good writing and you’ll automatically absorb it.

Secondly, write. Write, write, write! Don’t worry that it might be bad. The more you write, the more you’ll develop your natural voice. And you can always fix the writing, but you can’t fix a blank screen.

Third, understand that writing is a craft that must be learned. Join writers’ groups and attend meetings and conferences, to learn from other writers and industry professionals. If possible, join a good critique group to get constructive feedback on your writing. Finally, don’t give up! Whether or not you’re published, you ARE a writer. Believe in yourself!

Ms. Spangler's latest book is Shadower, book two in her Sentinel Series.

Injured in a bar fight and then stranded on a hellhole planet when her ship is stolen, smuggler Moriah Cameron finds herself at the mercy of arrogant Sabin Travers. Sabin resents about the disruption this defiant and ungrateful woman creates in his life. When she stumbles upon a secret that could affect hundreds of lives, he’s forced to take her captive.

Having a strong aversion to domineering men like Sabin, Moriah manages to steal his ship and escape. Her freedom is short lived when Sabin catches up with her.

As they battle wills and wits across the quadrant, Moriah is shocked by her growing attraction to Sabin. When she discovers Sabin is also a shadower, all bets are off. She eludes him once more and heads off to a dangerous but lucrative delivery. Things go wrong at the drop, and only Sabin’s major sacrifice can save her. But ultimately, it’s love, acceptance, and healing that save them both.


Learn more about Ms. Spangler and her books at her website:

Want more writing tips, tricks, and hints?
Check out these recommended books and get your writing game on!

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
Save The Cat: The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need by Blake Snyder
Self-Editing For Fiction Writers by Renni Browne
Zen In The Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury
GMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict: The Building Blocks of Good Fiction by Debra Dixon
Story Engineering: Character Development, Story Concept, and Scene Construction by Larry Brooks


Kat Duncan said...

Wow, fantastic tips! Thanks for pulling this together into one handy spot. Thanks for including my books in the mix. Questions and comments welcome. I'll be checking back all day! :)

Cassandra said...

Thank you for being one of the participating authors and for the awesome tip! I actually have a question. :) I have a difficult time dealing with subtext in my writing. Are there any tips you have for writing layers of subtext without giving up too many details? It seems like a really delicate balance and I want to improve this aspect of my writing. Thanks!

Catherine Spangler said...

I agree with Kat (who gave great advice!). I'm delighted to be included, too, and will check back for questions and comments. Happy Sunday!

Kat Duncan said...

A quick tip for subtext is to learn to use verbal banter. Banter is often loaded with attitude, sexual innuendo and personal jabs that push characters out of their comfort zones. This kind of humor is important not only for comic relief but also to round out characters and make them feel real to the reader, and to engage the reader with the characters. How often do you have long or repeated conversations with people without interjecting some kind of humor? Here's a great example:

Jonathan Brannan said, "A guy like that, he always has arm candy."
"Who in particular."
"Whoever was the prettiest. Whoever was willing to put out, I guess."
"Black or white?"
"Both. He's pretty much an equal opportunities type of guy."
"Remember any names?"
"No," Hunter Brannan said. "But I remember feeling pretty jealous a couple of times."
-The Affair, Lee Child

Notice how the author gets a lot of details and information across not only about the guy the character is looking for, but about the character who's asking and the character who's answering. And, Child manages to engage readers (well, at least male readers) in the conversation because they can picture themselves agreeing and guffawing. That's a lot of layers of subtext for just a few words!

Cassandra said...

Hi Catherine! Been a long time fan of your work and am so thrilled you could participate in the Writer's Corner Event. Awesome tip, too. I think some writers don't venture outside their own genre, but I agree, it helps to round out a writer's toolbox by reading outside their niche.

Cassandra said...

Awesome tip for creating subtext, Kat! Thank you. I'm going to apply that tip in my current wip. :)

Catherine Spangler said...

Hi Cassandra. Thanks for your support and thanks for including me today!

Catherine Spangler said...

Great tip about verbal banter, Kat. I'd like to add that dialogue is a great way to move a story forward. Details and introspection have their place, but they stop the forward movement of the story. Weave them in, but as Kat suggested, use dialogue to reveal more about the characters. Be sure your character's dialogue is unique to them, and that your characters don't all sound alike.

Kat Duncan said...

Making the most of dialogue is an excellent idea, Catherine. I do often start scenes with just the dialogue. Once I get that well-fashioned, then I add other elements. It's an easy way to get stories moving along as Catherine says....

N.J.Walters said...

Some really great advice. Thanks for including me in the Writer's Corner Event. :)

Unknown said...

thanks for including me too, CC. I'll be around for most of the night if anyone has questions I can help them with :) The post is great and I love Kat's advice :)

Cassandra said...

Hey N.J.! You're welcome, gf. I love your tip. Growing a thick skin is one of the toughest parts of being a writer. I've been on both sides now (reviewer and author) and while both can be rewarding in their own way, I truly get how hard it is to write a book and have a ton more appreciation for my favorite authors because ya'll make it look so simple and easy—but oh my word—it's not.

Cassandra said...

Hi Jodi! Thank you so much for being one of my guest authors. I love your books and was determined to getcha for this event. :D

Unknown said...

(((hugs))) Thanks, CC :)

Kat Duncan said...

Growing a thick skin is an excellent tip, N.J. I think in our creative modes it is hard to get away from wanting our work to be good and realizing that publishing is a business. And you are right, Cassandra, good writers really do make it look easy. There's a lot of hard work behind each page.

Kat Duncan said...

Jodi's books are awesome! Well worth the time to read. Great tip, too, Jodi. Escalating the conflict and tension is a key element that makes many books sag and disappoint. Thanks for sharing that.

Unknown said...

not a problem, Kat. I just finished downloading your book. :) I'm looking forward to reading it! (and telling people about it, lol)

RG Alexander said...

Thank you for including me!

Cassandra said...

You're welcome, R.G! Awesome tip, too. ((hugs))