Category Archives: Uncategorized

Plots and Socks: a writing process

(2014 re-post)

I like my plots the way I like my socks. Tight and free of holes.

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And, let me tell you, it isn’t easy.

I never really thought about ‘my process’ until this past weekend, when my husband and I had some friends over. I am one of those people who never really talks about their writing unless asked because I will go on and on and on until you are sorry you ever asked the question.

But, at some point during the many conversations, some unfortunate soul made the mistake of asking me how I come up with ideas for my books.

After the initial, “I don’t know,” it got me thinking about how, thus far, my stories have ended up nothing like the way they started out. And that lead me to the realization that I am an odd-builder.

Yes, I said odd-builder.

Let me explain it you you, reader, like I explained to my company:

I start with The End. It’s an image in my head, or a feeling that I get about a certain situation or story. Usually sparked by some event I read about or see taking place within the lives of people around me.

Then, I hit the internet. I search blog after blog, read endless amounts of advice on the creative process and the proper way to structure a story. But then, after a week or so–less if I’m really inspired–I remember that my brain won’t let me do it the usual way. I cannot tell you how many unfinished outlines I have stored in my computer.

Then, I jot down all the ideas about my ending (how it might have been reached and by whom) into a spiral notebook which then finds it’s way into my bedside table. It’s like binder after notebook after binder inside my nightstand.

This is my only form of organization when it comes to writing. Each idea, each plot, and character that graces the pages of my  books gets it’s own section in a binder. The binders are labeled with the wroking title and the notes on plot or character are tossed in there like a paper salad. It’s messy, but it works for me.

From there, I go back to whatever it is I am writing at the time. I try to finish one project before moving along to the next. This way I dont have a million manuscripts I feel pressured to finish.

Then, once I have had time away from the idea, I go back to my notebooks and re-read everything. If i am still stoked about the idea, I start constructing.

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UNDER CONSTRUCTION 

This is where it gets a tad messy. See, I have my ultimate ending, but I don’t know who the characters are yet. So here is the place where I begin the inquisition. I ask myself

What events must happen for the story to reach it’s ending?

What motivates the characters to make the choices they must make to lead to the end?

What type of person makes those choices? A pschopath, a lonely girl, a guy who’s strapped for cash…the posibilities are endless.

Who do I want my character to be? What age and/or gender would fit best with the situations presented?

What traits do they have that I can relate to? What type of upbringing would they have that might influence their choices?

And the list goes on. These questions are also helpful when I reach that point in the story where I’m not sure what the character should do. I can go back to these questions and find an answer.

Once I reach a point of comfortable familiarity with my main characters, I begin free-writing. And through the process of turning on the voice in my head and letting it flow to the page, I find out who they really are, beneath the choices.

Well, that’s my crazy process.

#FlashFiction Even though it’s not Friday

Hello, fellow bloggers and faithful readers!

I’ve had my head buried in school books and am putting the final touches on my latest book (which I am SO ridiculously behind on) that I literally have zero time to blog.

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But I don’t want to leave anybody hanging, or make you all think that I forgot about my readers the same way I forgot all about this flash fiction thing I started doing last year.

Truly, I came across it on my Wattpad page and was like, “When did I write this!?”

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So, I reread it. A fell in like with it all over again, and decided it was worth sharing here. Again.

(there’s a smidge of strong language, so reader beware)


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A Beacon for the Metaphorical Penis.

“A what?” Layla stared at the laptop and shook her head. “I don’t get it. Sorry, Dee.”
Dee sighed, letting her shoulders drop. “I couldn’t call it ‘Dick Magnet.’ No one would want to read it.”
Layla laughed. “Or everyone would.”
“For all the wrong reasons.”
“Okay. So what’s it’s supposed to be about?”
Dee sighed again. It was about everything in her life turning out wrong. It was about being thirty-one and still single. It was about still losing her job after all the crap she put up with to keep it. Like unpaid overtime; they wanted the work done, but they didn’t want her to charge them for it—and she was stupid enough to believe her selfish boss would remember her dedication when the next editing position opened up.
“Generally, it’s about how independent, intelligent women in this age have no taste in men.”
“So it’s a biography.” Layla’s face was dead-pan.
Dee was the one laughing now. She should have known better than to try and fool her best friend. “Yes. But no. It’s an idea I’ve had for a long time, now I’m finally putting it to paper. Metaphorically, since it’s digital.” She shrugged, crossing her arms.
“It sounds good, but since when did you become a blogger?”
“I’m out of book ideas.” Dee plopped on the short sofa beside her friend and grabbed the laptop—saving and closing the document file.
“So…Dick Magnet? Are you going to feed the stereotypes about men wanting nothing more than to get into a womans pants?”
“You mean tell it like it is? Yes.”
Layla rolled her eyes. She wasn’t as cynical as her lifelong friend. But she had no reason to be. She married the man who took her virginity a month after high school graduation. And amazingly, they were still married. And happy. They still had sex. Regularly.
Dee shook off the image. “Not all of us are lucky enough to find a guy like your Steve.”
“Luck had nothing to do with it. Love is an investment, Dee. The wedding is like a down payment that gets you the house. But marriage is what you live in. It takes time to repaint and remodel. It’s a lot of work.”
Dee’s eyes nearly crossed. How many times had she heard this metaphor? Ten, twenty, a hundred-thousand times?
“Alright-awright. I get it. The secret is in real-estate research.”
“Metaphorically.”


Dee didn’t like the name she chose for her new, fabulous website. Yeah, it was only to keep her busy as she searched for another job. It was a part-time thing. A hobby. There were millions of bloggers out there, but none of them—at least the ones Dee came across—were filling the gap between what you learn and applying that knowledge in everyday life and situations.
For instance, Dee now knew, from past experience that it was important to see your potential date in a well-lit space before agreeing to any outings. The typically soft lighting of a night club does not lend itself to inspection. To search, to make absolutely sure there was no slightly lighter strip of skin on the left ring finger.
She learned this one night—well several nights after—a few fuzzy navels and a screwdriver, compliments a la Asshole. The haze of alcohol eased her into accepting his phone number scribbled on a napkin. The man had paid for two of her four drinks that night and she was reduced to thinking that somehow indebted her. But all he wanted was the chance at a phone call. And Dee was not going to call. But he hadn’t demanded Dee’s phone number. He’d left it up to her to make the next move.
And in that simple act of letting her think she was in a higher position made her fall.
The high-point of the first date was the conversation and the sweet, boyish peck on the cheek that followed. Boy, did he reel her in. Slowly, like a fat, stupid tuna. He let her thrash about on the baited hook like one of the giant marlin her father used to catch when he took her deep sea fishing.
The second date was where Dee learned her lesson. It was right after she let him talk her into seeing a terrible movie. A major motion picture, expected to be a box office block-buster.
Well, it was shit. Dee knew it would be. She rarely agreed with film critics and never agreed with pop-culture’s ideas of ‘good’ on anything. Film or otherwise. Except maybe Green Mile and Forrest Gump, but that was more a Tom Hanks anomaly.
Neither one really watched the movie, but they made good use of the dark. They were all over eachother. Dee was going to take him to her apartment. As the two left the theater, walking hand in hand, it happened.
A beautiful woman with bright strawberry curls was blocking their path on the crowded sidewalk. Asshole threw her hand away and stuttered something to the woman. Dee was confused at first. But then she took in the womans tired, hurt expression, her thin arms that held an impossibly tiny infant, and her slightly doughy middle. Then the womans thin hand and the large stone that rested over her fourth finger.
Automatically, Dee checked her dates’ fingers. Low and behold—there was a thin, slightly lighter line around his ring finger.
Dee did the only thing she could think of; listened and watched the screaming match. The poor woman cried at the unfairness; it wasn’t her fault she had to wait six weeks to have sex. She’d just had his baby! And her husband of less than two years was an unfaithful bastard!
Bastard was right. Who the hell was he to make Dee the slut, to turn her into the other woman?
Dee’s knee swung up into his groin before she had a chance to think it through. “There! Now he can’t have sex either!”
She charged through the watching crowd on her way home to meet her second dates for that evening, Ben and Jerry.
It was a tough lesson. But one Dee was glad to have learned. Thanks to that experience, she could relay the importance of good lighting at a first meeting.


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You are welcome, World.

Rivera–out.

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Happy Sunday

It’s too hot out to do anything, so here’s a little funny to keep you busy:

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Big News!

Did you guys miss me? 

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Well, I hope you at lease noticed I was gone.

During my unannounced hiatus, I was taking a few summer courses at my local college campus. The work load was a smidgen more than I expected. giphy

But I came through with flying colors and I’ll resume posting more regularly from now on.

Even though I’ve had my head buried in writing and reading books, life did not cease to be interesting. In fact, it got freaking fascinating!

The coolest thing is coming up this weekend . . . 

Forgotten Faces, you know, the band that my boys have, the band that plays shows all over the place and gets written about by music critics--yeah, that band!

Well, the band FORGOTTEN FACES will be playing XFest!

anigif_enhanced-buzz-21588-1384225164-15For those of you outside the Central Valley, XFest is an annual music festival, usually held in Modesto California, that’s been popping every year since it began 17 years ago. This year the event will be held at the larger San Joaquin County Fair Grounds and it’s going to be EPIC.

T-Pain and Suicidal Tendencies will be there, too, along with SO MANY other bands, I cannot wait! It’s going to be the bands biggest gig yet!

So, if any of you are in the San Joaquin, or Central Valley this weekend, pop on by and check out the music! And if you have a copy of one of my books, bring that too. I’ll sign it for you!

Forgotten Faces

Book Release Bonanza with Donuts and Rachel Barnard

I don’t know if any of you follow Rachel Barnard’s blog, but I do. She’s an author like me. She writes and reads many different types of books, like me, too.

Unlike me, though, her obsession with donuts is public.

Her latest book, Donuts In An Empty Field was just released June 3rd and she’s got TONS of promotional things going on.

Giveaways, blog tours, and book signings and reading, so if you like what you see here . . .

20160514 Donut Shoot (2)  I’m kind of thinking that seeing the author dressed like a sprinkled donut is something that everybody is going to like. FYI- If I were to dress up like my favorite donut, I’d be a custard filled maple!

Honest to goodness, if that doesn’t make you want to sign up for Rachel’s Newsletter I don’t know what will

So, now that you’re all fully intrigued, let’s talk about DONUTS IN AN EMPTY FIELD, By Rachel Barnard (it’s available right now on amazon for a mere 3.99)!

 

Letting go of anger is life’s greatest challenge. Vanessa Smith hasn’t been the same since her father’s death. A hero until the end, he died saving a restaurant owner’s wife and son from a burning building. Nessa has always blamed the boy, Ben, for her loss, and her thoughts are consumed with ways to make him as miserable as she is. Nichole Adams knows Nessa can never heal until she learns to let go of her hatred, but bringing back her best friend is proving more difficult than she could’ve imagined. In a last ditch effort to break Nessa’s obsession, Nichole hopes signing up for the local food challenge is just the thing to bust her out of her shell. A single choice defines the road ahead for Nessa. Doing the right thing isn’t easy, but living with the consequences of doing nothing might be worse.

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Sounds like a really great read, doesn’t it?!

635939429028651305-747438658_storytellerWhat are people saying about Donuts in an Empty Field?

“Honestly, everyone needs a Nichole in their lives. Someone to push you and help you be a better person.” – Katharine

“Nichole is in the driver’s seat so to speak at the beginning controlling the adventures and then gradually starts to hand the reigns to Vanessa, so Vanessa does flounder a bit before finding her stride. Beautiful storytelling! I’m getting teary again.” – D’ariel

“It’s about life, heroes, world records and puppies. It’s about donuts but mostly it’s about friendship.  The author has that rare talent where you could start on any random page and get completely drawn into the story.” – Bill

17305148If you’re feeling lucky and want a chance to win a free copy, or maybe you just want to know a little more about this quirky, wonderful author, Rachel Barnard and her blog, or her other books, check out the links below!

donugtsLink madness:

Big Donuts Rafflecopter Giveaway! (you could win!)  

Put ‘Donuts’ on your To-Read list on Goodreads! 

Get ‘Donuts’ on Amazon  

Thunderclap marketing   

Important upcoming Dates/Events:

Maple Valley Days @ Lake Wilderness Park, Maple Valley, WA (near the Info booth with FreeValley Publishing) on 06/10/16 – 06/12/16

 Neverending Bookshop Reading with Donuts and Books in Bothell, WA (10123 Main Place St. 2) on 06/25/16, 3:00 P.M. – 5:00 P.M. Get more info here

Local author Rachel Barnard will read from her most recent publication, Donuts in an Empty Field. Bring your used books for store credit and to get more entries into the free raffle. This event features a blind donut tasting of several local donut shops. Come try some local donuts and vote on your favorites. Got something cool to say about donuts? Don’t forget to add it to the “All about the Donuts” comment/quote box. First five purchases after 3:00 P.M. will receive a FREE mini donuts swag pack. Check out the facebook page for this event!

Third Place Books Dual Author Reading @ Third Place Books in Bothell, WA (17171 Bothell Way NE, Lake Forest Park) on 06/25/16, 6:30 P.M. – 7:30 P.M. Event info here

Come listen to Ksenia Anske and Rachel Barnard as they read from their new books The Badlings and Donuts in an Empty Field (For the Love of Donuts Book 1) respectively. There will be challenges, a raffle, and other fun stuff. Check out the facebook page for this event!

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About the Author

And once more, because I like this picture so much, is author Rachel Barnard . . . and her bio:

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Rachel Barnard lives in the Pacific Northwest, near Seattle. She has self-published several young adult novels, including Ataxia and the Ravine of Lost Dreams and At One’s Beast. When she is not writing, reading, marketing, or editing, Rachel dances, writes reviews of Indie books, attempts funky challenges, and wishes she owned a Corgi.

 Of course she’s really cute out of the costume, too…

OTHER BOOKS BY THE AUTHOR (click the link to visit the authors amazon page where you can get all the info on all her writing!)

Vanessa’s Book of Awesome Things

A fun accompaniment/companion book to the for the Love of Donuts Series. This little book of fun contains bucket style lists of challenges, fun things to do with doughnuts, scavenger hunt items, facts about Corgis, top ten donuts you have to try, a doughnuts recipe, and more.

Ataxia and the Ravine of Lost Dreams

In Ataxia and the Ravine of Lost Dreams A young girl takes on the mighty powers of the government but is sidetracked by challenges of the academy she attends, the new boy, and keeping her secrets safe.

She will do anything – forfeit her identity, friendships, even love – to be humanity’s champion.

As the U.S. government prepares to take over the world, MC infiltrates one of their elite academies that trains future leaders.  MC must rise to the top in the Cube training grounds in order to be placed high up within the government so she can stop it in its takeover.

 It is not until her fourth and final year at the academy that her top-student status is threatened by the sudden arrival of Li, the new transfer student. MC is completely focused on her self-created mission until she gets sidetracked by Li, who might be bad news in more ways than which she bargained.

A Young Adult, Dystopian, Not-So-Distant-Future Adventure Novel with a hint of sci-fi and a bit of romance.

 At One’s Beast

From once upon a time to happily ever after, At One’s Beast highlights the struggles of two young adolescents who have fallen prey to chance evil circumstances. When it took the entire village to create the monster, what will it take to break the spell?

Available in print, e-book, and as an audio book, At One’s Beast is a new take on “Beauty and the Beast,” with a love triangle, revenge, a spell, evil, fate, forgiveness, compassion, bitterness, capture, betrayal and love.


As always, if you’ve read any good books lately, why not head on over to Amazon or Goodreads and let the authors, as well as potential readers know what you think? Remember, your opinions matter!

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Week #2 Freebies

Yeah! It’s Friday! You know what that means …

Suit-UP

Okay. That’s a great guess …. But actually, I was referring to the SYNC Summer audiobook program. It’s week #2 and that means more free audiobooks! If listening to free audiobooks isn’t your thing, you can click the link in the titles to get the books on amazon (which is not free).

This weeks pairing of popular YA fiction and classic literature are:

THE SIN EATER’S DAUGHTER By Melinda Salisbury 

Sixteen-year-old Twylla lives in the castle. But although she’s engaged to the prince, no one speaks to her. No one even looks at her. Because Twylla isn’t a member of the court. She’s the executioner.

As the goddess-embodied, Twylla kills with a single touch. So each week, she’s taken to the prison and forced to lay her hands on those accused of treason. No one will ever love her. Who could care for a girl with murder in her veins? Even the prince, whose royal blood supposedly makes him immune to her touch, avoids her.

But then a new guard arrives, a boy whose playful smile belies his deadly swordsmanship. And unlike the others, he’s able to look past Twylla’s executioner robes and see the girl, not the goddess. Yet a treasonous romance is the least of Twylla’s problems.

The queen has a plan to destroy her enemies—a plan that requires an unthinkable sacrifice. Will Twylla do what it takes to protect her kingdom? Or will she abandon her duty in favor of a doomed love?


DIVINE COLLISION By Jim Gash

Los Angeles lawyer and law professor, Jim Gash, tells the amazing true story of how, after a series of God-orchestrated events, he finds himself in the heart of Africa defending a courageous Ugandan boy languishing in prison and wrongfully accused of two separate murders.

Ultimately, their unlikely friendship and unrelenting persistence reforms Uganda’s criminal justice system, leaving a lasting impact on hundreds of thousands of lives and unearthing a friendship that supersedes circumstance, culture and the walls we often hide behind.


Your opinion matters. wpid-img_20150516_142017.jpg

Book reviews are like literary oxygen: authors need them. So if you’ve read a book you love, even one that isn’t mine, go to amazon or goodreads, and let the authors and potential readers know what you think!

 

The Author Exploitation Business

This is an excellent blog post!
Are you a first time writer thinking about using a vanity press?
Read this first…
#SharingIsCaring

David Gaughran

penguin (1)Writing is a glamorous occupation – at least from the outside. Popular depictions of our profession tend to leave out all the other stuff that comes with the territory: carpal tunnel syndrome, liver failure, penury, and madness.

Okay, okay, I jest. I love being a writer. Sharing stories with the world and getting paid for it is bloody brilliant. It’s a dream job, and like any profession with a horde of neophytes seeking to break in, there are plenty of sharks waiting to chew them to bits.

Publishing is a screwed up business. The often labyrinthine path to success makes it much easier for those with nefarious intentions to scam the unsuspecting. But it doesn’t help that so many organizations who claim to help writers, to respect them, to assist them along the path to publication are actually screwing them over.

Before the digital revolution made self-publishing viable on a…

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