Archives for : July2018

#Camp Nanowritmo Winner

I’m pleased to announce I’ve met my Camp Nanowritmo goal. I love writing with buddies and cabinmates, and I love crossing the finish line.

Thank you, National Novel Writing Month staff, participants, and friends.

Polish Your Query Know-How

Want to improve the chances of selling your manuscript? Improve your query.

At this month’s Wisconsin Romance Writers’ Milwaukee Meeting, Lorelie Brown, an award-winning author with close to twenty published novels under her belt, gave us the down and dirty on how we could make our querying process more successful.

First, before a writer starts querying, she should do her research. Use sites like: Absolutewrite, Writer Beware, and Query Tracker, where other writers have contributed accounts of their experiences. These can help an author discover a particular agent or editor’s response time, his/her percentage of rejections and offers for representation and other useful boots-on-the-ground information

Next, develop a method to keep track of the editors or agents contacted, what has been sent and when it was sent. This is particularly useful if an author is marketing multiple manuscripts.

When writing a query, it’s important to keep words to around 250.

Answer the each of the following questions in a tightly written paragraph. (One paragraph to answer each question.)

  1. What does the protagonist want?
  2. If this is a romance, what does the love interest want?
  3. What does the protagonist need to do and what happens she/he doesn’t? In other words, what’s the conflict? What are the stakes?

Conflict makes a page-turning story and that story needs to have both internal and external stakes. Lorelie said that many of the novice queries she’s read usually have all external stakes. She gave an example like this one:

Ever since Knight Wintercrest rescued Lady Summerside from kidnappers, they’ve been in love; however, her family wants her to marry the villainous Lord Ghastly. Will their love survive?

If Lord Ghastly dies, say a rock crushes him, there’s no reason Wintercrest and Summerside can’t live happily-ever-after. The conflict here is all external. Lorelie advised us to give our conflict the sudden death test. If a falling rock can solve the problem in the story (take out the villain and sweep away all obstacles to a happy ending), we as authors need to work on our story’s internal conflict.

She stressed the importance of internal conflict because that’s where she sees the drama and the emotional connection between the characters and the reader is forged. What’s internal conflict? She threw out some examples: “I can’t love because…” or “Everyone’s left me, and you will, too.”

Lorelie said that after you’ve clearly laid out the story’s goals, motivation, conflict and stakes, it’s time to tell the person you’re contacting a little about yourself.

In the last paragraph of the query authors should give their writing credits like the writing organizations they belong to or their previously published work. In addition, they can detail contest wins and life experiences that add credit to their story.

Writers also need to include contact information like phone numbers and e-mail addresses. They also need to state whether their project is completed or in progress and how many words it is. When reporting word count be sure to round up.

Once your query’s complete and you’ve sent it out, Lorelie gave this advice—just keep writing. Successful writers are the one who haven’t given up.


Want to Captivate a Reader? Tips in Creating a Hero or Heroine

Typewriter Photo by Florian Klauer on Unsplash

I don’t know about you, but I read fiction for the characters and the adventure those characters go through. Like most readers, I want vivid heroes who draw me into their situations and, often when I don’t get into the main character, I put the book aside. But how do writers create those attention-grabbing heroes?

Here’s what some of my favorite writing experts have to say.

  1. First, don’t create a wimp. Follow Jack Bickham’s advice from 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes. “Fiction writers too often forget that interesting characters are almost always characters who are active—risk takers—highly motivated toward a goal. Many a story has been wrecked at the outset because the writers chose to write about the wrong kind of person—a character of the type we sometimes call a wimp.”
  2. In The Key: How to Write Damn Good Fiction Using the Power of Myth, James N. Frey, a writing instructor and author, suggests that heroes have certain qualities that attract readers. Main characters must have courage. Either they start with it or they develop it along the way.
  3. Fictional heroes need to be clever and resourceful.
  4. Also, a compelling hero or heroine has a special talent. Something he or she can do better than anyone else in the story. We’re attracted to competence. We tend to pick doctors, mechanics, restaurant chefs and, yes, even fictional heroes because they perform a skill or set of skills exceptionally well.
  5. Like the previous examples, the heroine in our novels might use her unique talent to make a living and be proficient at her calling.
  6. An appealing hero is also a person who lives by his own rules. He strives to do what’s right in his mind even if others in the story don’t understand him.
  7. An effective main character is the focus of the action and the story. She must take the lead in whatever case she embraces.
  8. In Thanks, but This Isn’t For Us, Jessica Page Morrell, a best-selling author of many books on writing craft, echoes this. She says, “Heroes take charge, take responsibility, and take risks … they’re people of action who speak their minds, kick ass and take names, and, most important, who act when in real life we’d be cowering, or wetting our pants, or scrambling for an exit.”
  9. Further, she goes on to state, “Heroes dare to be wrong.”
  10. Equally important the large-and-in-charge heroine—at the center of the story, should be flawed. She or he has been wounded in the past. Perhaps he’s lost a loved one, been injured or lost his faith. He’s vulnerable and in need of healing. He has an event or a series of events in his past he’s got to work through. This brokenness fuels his current goals, makes him human and enables readers to identify with him.
  11. The hero has to grow and change throughout the story. Often, he strives to become less selfish or self-centered.
  12. She may even sacrifice herself for the good of others. Frey believes that the most compelling heroines motivated by idealism at some point in the story.
  13. Lastly, Frey suggests that the hero should be sexually potent. As Frey puts it, “Creating a mythic character without sexual energy is like bringing the burgers, the buns, and the charcoal to the barbecue, and leaving the matches at home.”


I love reading stories that feature intriguing characters and I hope these tips will help you when you write your next tale. Also, if you’ve found the suggestions useful, I hope you’ll consider checking out the resources quoted in this article for further study.



Bickham, Jack M. 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes. Writers Digest Bks., U.S., 1998.

Frey, James N. The Key: How to Write Damn Good Fiction Using the Power of Myth. St. Martins Griffin, 2002.

Morrell, Jessica Page. Thanks, but This Isn’t for Us. Jeremy P. Tarcher, 2009.

FYI: I wrote this post for the Wisconsin Romance Writers. You can check it out at this link.

Creating a Hero or Heroine that Captivates Readers

The Divine Dungeon Series- Dungeon Born, Dungeon Madness and Dungeon Calamity -A Goodreads Book Review-

Dungeon Calamity (The Divine Dungeon, #3)Dungeon Calamity by Dakota Krout
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Disclaimer-This series was the first LitRPG story I believe I’ve ever read. Originally, I started it to please my son. I was planning on just skimming the first book Dungeon Born, but I got drawn in.

The series is basically a life story, a fantastic biography. Cal is a sentient dungeon core, but he’s so much more. He’s funny, interesting, and surprisingly human for a supposedly inanimate object. He’s got a good personality, is fond of puns, and is likable as he grows from being self-absorbed to caring for the community living over him.

Also, I love his creations. They’re original and explained well enough that a non-RPG reader like me understood them and their actions, but my favorite part of this series is being in Cal’s head while he strategizes and pines for Dani, his companion/love interest, a wisp that necromancers have kidnapped. He is so desperate to rescue her, he learns to fly. Yep, he becomes a flying dungeon.

Then there’s the awesome supporting cast of dungeon-goers! Starting with Dale. He buys the mountain the dungeon is on and ends up trying to level up and train while dealing with the colorful townies. Most of the residents are eccentric and delightfully frustrating to Dale.
Some of my favorites are: Frank, the guild master, Hans, the ex-assassin, Rose, the chaos-archer, Bob, the goblin researcher, and James the rude portal mage who keeps getting banished.

I am impressed at how the story comes full circle. Everything’s explained and makes sense in this well-plotted tale. One caution-this series might not be for people who follow Stephen King’s no adverb rule, but if you’re looking for something different to read and you like stories with swords, spells and Lord-of-the-Rings type creatures, consider giving this series a try.

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Throne of Glass-A Goodreads Review

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When Prince Dorian offers eighteen-year-old assassin, Celeana a chance to compete for position of champion for the tyrannical King, who killed her parents, she reluctantly agrees, thinking anything must be better than the salt mines of Endovier. She’s wrong. Ghosts haunt her. The King and his courtiers plot her doom and summoned demons hunt her through secret passages. She struggles to survive combat, poisonings, and dress fittings while the Prince and the Captain of the guard via for her attention and mysteries unfold.

It’s pretty much everything a reader like me wants in a fantasy romance. If you like badass femme fatales, swordplay mixed with royal balls, and lots of cheeky banter between paramours, you’ll enjoy this novel.

FYI- I bought a copy of this book from Audible.

View all my reviews