Chapters 52 & 53 are up

I put up new chapters for Verdanta.  Enjoy!

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A short fiction trick

I shared C.S. Boyack II’s blog on Flipboard and he kindly sent me his advice on short story writing. Lots of my writing friends swear they can’t write a short story, but YES, YOU CAN. And here’s a perfect and powerful example and advice on how to do it.

Entertaining Stories

I’ve been putting off this post for a long time, because it’s got to be a long post. The reason is it has to include a bit of micro-fiction to pick apart. Some of you might like the trick, some of you might like the story, but I’m going to post it anyway.

I’ve been seeing more posts about writing short stories on Blogland. Some of them are good, but most of them could be summed up by saying make them short. That’s so obvious as to be pretty unhelpful.

In order to share this trick, I have to give you a story to pick apart. Since I’m allowed to post an excerpt for promotional purposes, I’m choosing one from the Experimental Notebook. It isn’t my fault that it makes a complete story in 900 words. If you like the story, there are more in the Notebook for 99¢.

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By Popular Demand, Flipboard

Thought I’d share this. Flipboard is something new, in case anyone wants to try it and make their own magazine.

Story Empire

Hi all, Craig here again. I’ve posted a few times on my own blog, Entertaining Stories, about how I’ve benefitted from a semi-obscure media called Flipboard.

Flipboard is one of those curated content setups, and I came to it by accident. Once upon a time, I had a Zite Magazine account. I set it up to be a source of ideas that I might want to write about. All was well with the world, because I could give a thumbs up or down and improve the stories I got. I set up all kinds of things, like archaeology, paranormal, scientific discoveries, and more. Many of these made it into posts I make called The Idea Mill.

Then Zite got absorbed by Flipboard. I didn’t have any choice but to switch over. Honestly, it doesn’t work quite as well for my original purpose, but it allows me something I…

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Thank Heavens for Feedback!

I finished my sixth romance, and after I settled down, I liked it, but I knew it needed more. I had ideas on how to fix it, but they were vague, floaty kinds of things and I wasn’t sure what to focus on.  And then my critique partners gave me their feedback, and they put a LOT of time into working on my novel, even lost sleep over it.  I’ve mentioned before, haven’t I, that my critique partners are awesome?  For the most part, they liked what was there, but they told me what was missing.  And that’s exactly what I needed.

I’ve been chugging through chapters, doing more work than usual on rewrites.  The book’s getting longer, but better–I hope.  And it made me think about a few books that I’ve started lately and fizzled on.  One was humorous, and my idea of humor and the author’s weren’t even close.  I think humor is hard.  The writing in the book was solid, but the author loved silly, exagerrated circumstances and I’m more of an understated type of funny fan.  So that book was just a difference in style and taste.  The other books that didn’t do it for me were also well written, but they pretty much skimmed the surface of plot and character.  And I’m pretty sure that’s what I’d done for book six.  I finished three of those books, but I finished them dissatisfied.  I felt like I’d read a series of events, but I never got pulled into the story.

I think that maybe the difference between a good book and a great book is that a great book makes you breathe and feel what the characters are feeling.  A good book can entertain you and help you pass time, but a great book worms itself into your brain and lives there.  It doesn’t have to be about some huge, momentous event either.  I love Sarah Addison Allen’s books, and the events are usually personal to her characters and their families, but she makes me CARE because small things in life can seem big and feel momentous.  To accomplish that, the authors who are my favorites use telling details and internal dialogue.  We understand their wants and their motivations.  We feel their angst. Sometimes, big events can swallow a character.  The event drives the story, and that can be fun, but for me, a story’s even stronger if we live through an event through the character and have to struggle and worry with him.

Anyway, I hope my rewrites make my characters’ motivations even stronger.  I hope I end up with a book readers will enjoy and remember.  And if you’re pounding the keys now, happy writing to you, too!




Twitter:  @judypost



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When is it too much?

I’ve listened to some of my friends when they first get Netflix or Hulu or find a new author.  They binge on a series they’ve found that knocks their socks off.  Sometimes, they watch or read the new show/author back to back until they’re caught up.  I’m not so good at that.  If I read an author’s books one after another, pretty soon I fizzle, no matter how good they are.  And then it’s time for me to mix it up and read other voices, other genres for a while.

It’s made me think about timing.  It’s a tricky thing, at least, for me.  One of my friends had a favorite blog, but the writer put up something new every day, and she finally felt overwhelmed and quit reading it.  We’re all busy.  We have to fit things into the few small empty spaces we have in our days.  When is too much…too much?  I follow a blog every day, but the posts are so short, I read them when I first hit my computer to wake my brain up.  They’re my alarm clock for writing.  Then there are people who post so seldomly that I forget to look for them, to make time for them.  Even when they do post, I’ve lost the flow and don’t always read them.  For me, as a reader, I think a new post once a week works about the best.

Timing even matters for books by my favorite authors.  If they write shorter books (50,000 to 70,000 words), I look forward to something by them a few times a year.  If they write tomes like Elizabeth George or J.K. Rowling, once a year fills my need to hear their voice, read their words.  But if I’m reading a series and it’s two or more years between book five and book six, the tension for the next book evaporates and even when it comes out, I might not rush to buy it.

I’m putting a second free book up on my webpage now, chapter by chapter, and I debated on how to load them–once a week?  Once a day?  I wasn’t sure, but the chapters are short, so I decided to go with once a day.  They won’t take much time to read, and hopefully, they’ll build momentum.  But I’m not sure.  Maybe that’s too much. So far, according to my stats, readers are sticking with them.  We’ll see as I go.  Wish me luck.

Happy reading and writing to all of you!


Author Facebook page:

Twitter:  @judypost





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Nearing the End

I have three more chapters before I reach the end of romance six–at least, the first draft. I’m happy with the book, the story and characters, but I hate it right now.  I’m so sick of writing it, and so ready for the next book, I can hardly stand it.  Every writer is different, but until I can hardly stomach a book, I figure something’s wrong with it.

I had this book so plotted out, I thought for sure it would have to behave.  But I’m here to tell you, you can plot out events in a book, but once a character comes to life, you’ve lost leverage.  He or she might do what’s in your outline, but the whys and wherefores get bent beyond recognition.  And darn it all, you end up liking a character who started out as a pill. Two of my characters switched sides on me in this book, and a new character wriggled into the story and made herself at home.  I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but people who tell me that if they plot, it ruins the surprise of writing the story, must be better at discipline than I am.

Oh, well, this is a shorter post than usual, because if I were to give anyone advice on writing right now, it would be DON’T DO IT.  Even though, a week from now, I’ll be all gung-ho again.  So I’ll spare everyone my end-of-book blues and hope that YOUR writing is going swimmingly well!

My webpage:  just posted chapter 22 & 23:

My Facebook author page:

Twitter:  @judypost


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Welcome Teri Polen with Sarah and #WritingTechinques

I read this on Mae Clair’s blog today, and it has great info on writing techniques. The link for beat sheets is great, too. Thought I’d share. And Kathy Palm, if you read this, this book is YA AND horror:)

From the Pen of Mae Clair

I’m so happy to introduce new friend, Teri Polen, who writes YA fiction and has recently released her debut novel Sarah. Teri and I met when she hosted an October/Halloweenish promotion for multiple authors on her blog and was kind enough to include me.

Since then, I’ve come to realize we have many common friends in the blogosphere. In addition to that, she held me glued to the pages through Sarah, a spooky YA novel centered around a vengeful ghost. You can find my five star review for Sarah on Amazon, but before you go gallivanting off, check out Teri’s post on writing techniques. The character quirks section really made me stop and think!


Epiphanies (for me) in Writing Techniques

I’ve never had any ‘formal’ training in writing – both of my degrees are in business, and learning how to interpret balance sheets was worthless when it came…

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Cover Reveal: A Desolate Hour by Mae Clair #RRBC Author

This gallery contains 3 photos.

Originally posted on From the Pen of Mae Clair:
Happy Monday, everyone! I’m kicking off the week by doing a cover reveal for A Desolate Hour, the third and final book in my Point Pleasant mystery/suspense series focused on the…

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I have a brainy, literary friend who won’t review a book unless he can wholeheartedly give it five stars.  He’s well-read, favors the heavyweights.  Knows all the classics.  Which means he hardly ever writes a review.

I’m not that picky.  I’ve read plenty of classics (not nearly as many as him), and I admire the hell out of great writing.  But in my mind, those authors are the top strastophere of writing.  They stand APART from we regular mortals and shouldn’t even be ranked alongside ordinary writers.  And let’s face it, we’re all biased.  What we consider good writing is subjective.  I’d list Elizabeth George, Alice Hoffman, and Sarah Addison Allen as icons of greatness, and maybe add Caleb Carr and Barbara Hambly, but my friend would list Stephen King, and another friend would add Eudora Welty and Flannery O’Connor.  We haven’t even mentioned the classics, because who could live up to those?

Today, I only read heavyweight books occasionally.  They demand too much time and emotional energy.  These days, I read books just as often to relax and enjoy.  Agatha Christie was an author I could count on for hours of fun.  Does she compare to Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Urbervilles?  No.  But would I give her five stars?  In a heartbeat. Because what she did, she did well.

That’s my new test for books I read.  Do they deliver on what they promised?  When I pick up a romance, I don’t expect The Thornbirds.  That book was romance on steroids.  I expect an interesting heroine who meets an intriguing hero and plenty of bumps to keep them apart before a happy ending.  And good writing.  The stronger the writing, the better. I’m talking about ALL the components of good writing–grammar, language, pacing, plotting, description…the works.   The more it delivers, the more stars I give it.

And that brings me to “stars.”  I’m a writer.  I tend to maybe be more generous than the average reader.  I know.  That surprises some people.  They expect me to be pickier, to have a higher standard.  But I know how HARD it is to get the balance right and to hold a reader’s attention for an entire book.

I worked as a waitress for two years when I was in college.  Being a waitress is hard work! To this day, I overtip because I remember all of the times I was tired, grumpy, needed to study for a test, and didn’t really want to wait on people, but had to.  If the waitress doesn’t get my food to me at a decent time, I remember when we were short-shifted, and I was trying to pick up extra tables while giving decent service to my own customers.  I know there are bad waitresses out there, but I still leave them some kind of a tip.

Because I’m a writer, I can’t make myself write a review that’s under three stars.  A decent book deserves three stars.  A good book deserves four, in my opinion.  And an exceptional book that keeps me entertained, even if it has a few flaws, I give five stars, because it made me happy for three or four nights before I fell asleep.  It stood out for me in some way.  I wish there was some giant, gold star you could give to books that stand far above the rest, but there isn’t, so I try to say that in the review itself.

One and two star books?  I probably don’t finish, and I’d never review them.  I know some people would say that’s being a coward.  They’d say I bought a bad book and wasted my money and I should warn other readers not to go there.  But books are sort of like movies.  Some of the ones I didn’t enjoy at all, someone else loved.   Plus, I just can’t do it.  I know how many hours and how much effort went into those books.  I can’t make myself trash them.

As for reviews, in general?  Every writer needs them.  I think the magic number is 50 to get Amazon to notice your novel.  25 is good, but that might have changed by now. Kensington put my fourth romance up on NetGalley to try to get advance reviews, but there are a LOT of books to compete with.  Some authors get reviews with book tours.  I found this article that I need to read:  I don’t know if you write reviews when you read books or not, but it’s the best way to support an author you like.  That’s why I make an effort to do it–as long as I liked the book.

Happy reading and happy writing!


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Twitter:  @judypost

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Trouble on the Island–new chapters

A new for Verdanta.  Violence.

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