Monday, June 11, 2018

Keys to Breaking the Block

You're writing, writing, writing, then...


via GIPHY

BAM! Writer's block. Why are my characters here? Where are they going? And how do they get there?

Fear not! Writer's Block is all in your head - and so are the answers to each of the above questions. Instead of forcing them out, try these easy steps to clear your mind...

from yarn
Then, when it's prodigiously empty enough, the words will flow again!

Breaking the Block:
  1. Take a walk
  2. Have a snack
  3. Phone a friend
  4. Read
  5. Watch a movie
  6. Take a nap
  7. Work on something else
  8. Clean or organize
  9. Play a game
  10. Draw or doodle
There are so many distractions that can take your mind off your Block. It's like when a couple is trying so hard to have a baby, then they give up, maybe even adopt one, and Bang! Preggers! (I have several friends who've had this happen) It's because the stress is gone. Relax, stop worrying, and good things will come.

Please note I didn't say get on social media. I never recommend it for inspiration. Social media is like a narcotic painkiller - it's okay in small doses, but use it too much and it's addictive leading to abuse.

Now back to our Blockage. If you've tried a few of these things and you're still stuck on how to proceed, here are some methods for figuring out your characters' next moves...
  • First, how far are they from the goal? Do they need to overcome more obstacles? Have you tortured them enough? If not, go to extremes. What's the worst that could happen? You will either argue with yourself or you'll use it.
  • Next, ask some random questions, like: What's going on around them? Do they need to lose or find something to move on? How do they feel? Are emotions getting in the way? Do they need a surprise or shock?
  • And lastly, ask yourself: What would you do if you were with them? Would you be snarky? or helpful? or tricky? or encouraging? or what?
Questions, What Ifs, Trial and Error - those are a Writer's Block's worst enemy. Ask enough questions and you'll be back into your story in no time!

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Now for this week's shout out...


Diane is insanely talented and hard-working! She conducts seminars on promotion, leadership and goal setting. With loads of experience and credentials, she travels the East Coast for interviews and speaking engagements, maintains several websites & blogs, offers book formatting consultation, and does sessions for schools.

Her latest guidebook is How to Publish and Promote Your Book Now! She also recently published an an inspirational self-help book Overcoming Obstacles With SPUNK! The Keys to Leadership & Goal-Setting with seven other authors which features the five keys to success.

“With a positive attitude, any goal can be achieved!” 
- L. Diane Wolfe, Owner of Dancing Lemur Press and Freedom Fox Press


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Before you go--I have to tell you about these 2 GIVEAWAYS!

To celebrate my just-signed contract for Beast World #3 - WINDY HOLLOW, I set up a Giveaway on Amazon for 2 winners to receive paperback copies of #2, CRADLE ROCK. But naturally, that was over in less than an hour. I don't know how that happens!

So, since I haven't done a Rafflecopter in a long while, I thought I'd do one of those too. This one has loads of prizes and will be open for a month.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

(Or if you'd like to review it, I'd be happy to send you a free e-copy. Just ask!)

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, June 4, 2018

How to Create Compelling Characters - the Wild Child

This week we have the Insecure Writers Support Group meeting.
With my new format, I try to encourage writers and give writing advice. But the IWSG is also a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, or a crash-test dummy to smash if you need to let out frustrations. I actually did all of the above last week in my Really Real Housewives post, so I'm feeling much better.

My problems also took backseat perspective when I read some other way more serious circumstances of writers I'm friends with. I'm praying for C. Lee McKenzie (who just released a book and was struck by tragedy) and Cassie Mae (who's been a beloved example of finding joy in life and thankfully still with us). These  are blog-friends I've known and worked with for a long time. They're going through extremely rough patches and could use the support. Thank you.

And if you need to vent or celebrate - I'm listening!

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Now, for my Character Advice...

Whether they know it or not, readers want to connect with characters. Readers love a book because they can relate to them. This connection steers the success or failure of a book. If readers don't like the characters, they don't care what happens to them and they'll put the book down, or not buy it in the first place. But how do we write good, quality, jump-off-the-page characters?

Here are my humble suggestions for traits of Compelling Characters:
  • Use qualities that remind readers of themselves or those close to them - keep characters realistic. Ask the question: "Would someone really do that?" And if your character does it anyway, they better have a darn good reason--motivation other than just moving the story along.
  • Not all good guys are perfect - they have flaws; not all bad guys are evil to the core - they have redeeming features. Just like in life, some traits are hidden, but come out eventually!
  • Characters act the way they do for a reason - they aren't just nice or mean for the sake of the scene, there's got to be deeper roots to their personality traits. Readers see through fake, flat characters - like "B-movie actors," not worth their time or money.
Example: The WILD CHILD
This week is my middle son's 18th birthday - can you believe it? I certainly can't! He's my Wild Child, the Act-first/Pay-later, no risk too great Daredevil. His "Wonder Years" have been a complete saga, and we keep wondering if he will survive Part 2: Life In the Real World.

We pick up as the saga continues... My adventurous son has decided to forego college (for which he got a nice scholarship) and join the Army. He's been a "Me do it!" kid since he was two, so once he's made his mind up, there's no convincing him otherwise. It was unexpected, but not a complete shock. We've learned to just go with it, for the most part. We support whatever choice he makes and hope for the best.

I say all this to introduce him as a perfect Wild Child main character: He's hilarious, smart, and handsome - with zero thought for consequences. This has led him into trouble many times - perfect for an action movie with tons of pitfalls he has to figure his way out of. He's super sweet with an innocence about him, yet so mischievous and ornery. A lady-killer who hates to be told what to do and has trouble admitting when he's wrong. Like Han Solo or Peter Quill. That's my Logan.

And I love every bit of him, wouldn't change a thing. When he calls, you know it's serious -- I just cringe and bear it. One of these days, I'll write his action hero adventure story - I've got so much material!

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And of course, I need to give my weekly SHOUT OUT!


We've been friends from the beginning--blogging beginnings, that is. We've helped each other through tough writing blocks, first book publishings, and dealing with not-so-friendly situations. Meeting Heather in person is definitely on my bucket list - as well as she lives in New York, a place I suppose I have to go sometime as the birthplace of the publishing industry in the US, right?

Heather writes Romantic Thrillers, starting with the juicy Maguire's Corner series, One Good Catch and Already Home. I'm not big on Romance, but Heather's got talent and kept my attention! She also shares the load as an Insecure Writers Support Group admin, as well as a caretaker of some unruly gnomes. A truer writing confidant you'll never find. So glad I know her. Stop by her place and say hello - she'd love it!

Have a great week, you guys. Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, May 28, 2018

7 Steps to a Better Setting

They walked into the house. It was dark and deserted.

Boring! People walk into dark empty houses every day. Reader puts the book down... Even if they all died, it would probably be from boredom! Though the above is an extreme bad-case scenario of a poor setting--all tell and no show--many new and some experienced writers forget the need to enhance a scene from the very beginning, eager to get to the action. But a truly good writer remembers...

Every opening sentence should tell a story in itself.

And here's my little ol' advice for setting a stimulating scene...

1) Who are they? -- Names or Descriptions of the group are always a better opening than a pronoun, especially for a new scene or chapter.

The twins and their two new friends...

Already more interesting!

2) How do they feel? -- Are they Happy? Hopeful? Anxious? Annoyed? Afraid? Curious? or What? And don't say it, show it with actions and expressions.

The twins and their two new friends crept up the stairs, cringing with every step...

3) What do they Hear? Taste? Feel? Smell? -- Immerse yourself in the scene and use all your senses. But notice, I didn't say "See?" yet. For now, Listen, Sniff, and Reach out!

The twins and their two new friends crept up the stairs, cringing with every squeaky step. Though the cleansing smell of fresh rain lingered in the air, the cool breeze made Kita shiver...

4) Where are they? -- A strange place? Familiar? Off-limits? Hideout? What's going on around them?

The twins and their two new friends crept up the stairs, cringing with every squeaky step. Though the cleansing smell of fresh rain lingered in the air, the cool breeze made Kita shiver. She peered over her shoulder as if sensing a presence behind her but saw only the overgrown bushes and full, leafy trees hiding the distant dirt road...

5) When is it? Is the time period a factor? Or just, what time of day is it?

The twins and their two new friends crept up the stairs, cringing with every squeaky step. Though the cleansing smell of fresh rain lingered in the air, the cool breeze made Kita shiver. She peered over her shoulder as if sensing a presence behind her but saw only the overgrown bushes and full, leafy trees hiding the distant dirt road and spreading long shadows as the sun dozed off.

6) What do they see? Now open the reader's eyes with little details that enhance and move the scene along.

The twins and their two new friends crept up the stairs, cringing with every squeaky step. The paint on the door was chipped, and dead leaves littered the porch. Though the cleansing smell of fresh rain lingered in the air, the cool breeze made Kita shiver. She peered over her shoulder as if sensing a presence behind her but saw only the overgrown bushes and full, leafy trees hiding the distant dirt road and spreading long shadows as the sun dozed off. Kita frowned.

Kan shook his head at his sister...

7) Now that you've hooked the reader, bring it all together. This is what keeps a reader up at night, wondering what happens next!

The twins and their two new friends crept up the stairs, cringing with every squeaky step. The paint on the door was chipped, and dead leaves littered the porch. Though the cleansing smell of fresh rain lingered in the air, the cool breeze made Kita shiver. She peered over her shoulder as if sensing a presence behind her but saw only the overgrown bushes and full, leafy trees hiding the distant dirt road and spreading long shadows as the sun dozed off. Kita frowned.

Kan shook his head at his sister and bounded up the last steps, flinging the door open. Darkness and a musty moan greeted them. They all held their breath. Kita knew the piece was there. It had to be.


I hope you enjoyed this mini lesson on Setting a Scene. Do you have any tips to share?

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Now, here's my SHOUT OUT of the WEEK!



I was very excited to meet the lovely Sherry Ellis in person - she used to live near me, then she moved. But now she lives near my parents so I still get to see her. She's very supportive and active on the blog scene even though her home life is nuts--in a good way.

This observant Mama spins a wicked funny yarn as the author of precocious MG and picture books, as well as on her blog the Mama Diaries. She's got so many stories to share! Her latest picture book was released earlier this year: DON'T FEED THE ELEPHANT. And her first Middle Grade book comes out Sept 4th: BUBBA AND SQUIRT'S BIG DIG TO CHINA. Pre-Order here. Then she's off to do some school visits, bringing creative teacher resources they can use. She's been a busy Mama!

Keep Writing! and Have a great week!