Writing, promotion, tips, and opinion. Pour a cuppa your favorite poison and join in.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Show and Tell - part 2

So...on Monday some of you guys gave me answers to the the following questions:

1) the title, or working title of whatever you're working on

2)Genre/age group

3) what's the story about; be as brief as possible

4) who's your main character (if more than one pick one)

5) where are you in the story? What's happening?

If anyone else wants to play please do! For those who played on Monday, I have some more specific questions for you:

Patchi: What does Penelope want/expect at the start of the story?

Sheena: How is this Glinda different than the one we know?

Liza: Who was Rena before her husband's death? Loving wife? And does the other wife come as a complete surprise? Were there hints?

Nicola: How are Daphne and Drop Dead Gorgeous different? What makes them and/or the story unique?

Lidy? What sort of world building is involved with the futuristic (and intriguing) concept (inter-dimensional criminal )?

I'm not expecting an answer, mostly these were the questions that popped into my mind as I read over your answers to Monday's questions. I find that when I'm asked questions about my work it often makes me think, dig deeper, which can be helpful.

At any rate, I hope this exercise was helpful and have a fabulous weekend all. Here's some more pretty to send you off :)

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Bottled - Cover Reveal


At seventeen, Adeelah Naji is transformed into a genie and imprisoned in a bottle. For a thousand years, she fulfills the wishes of greedy masters—building their palaces, lining their pockets with gold, and granting them every earthly pleasure. All that sustains her is the hope of finding Karim, the boy she fell in love with as a human. When at last she finds a note from her beloved, she confirms he has access to the elixir of life and that he still searches for her.

But someone else also hunts her. Faruq—the man who plots to use her powers to murder and seize the life forces of others—is just one step behind her. With the help of a kind master named Nathan, Adeelah continues to search for Karim while trying to evade Faruq. To complicate matters, she begins to experience growing fatigue and pain after conjuring, and finds herself struggling against an undeniable attraction to Nathan.

As Faruq closes in, Adeelah must decide just how much she’ll risk to protect Nathan and be with Karim forever. How much power does she really have to change her future, and what is she willing to sacrifice for an eternity of love? If she makes the wrong choice, the deaths of many will be on her hands.

Advanced Praise for BOTTLED:
Bottled has everything you could want in a story: humor, suspense, action, and romance. The twists kept me glued to the pages.”
~Elizabeth Langston, author of I Wish and Whisper Falls

Carol Riggs is an author of YA fiction who lives in the beautiful green state of Oregon, USA. Her debut novel, THE BODY INSTITUTE, released Sept 2015 from Entangled Teen, exploring body image and identity. Her fantasy YA, BOTTLED, will release from Clean Reads on July 7, 2016, and her sci-fi YA, SAFE ZONE, will release from Entangled Teen in October 2016. She enjoys reading, drawing and painting, writing conferences, walking with her husband, and enjoying music and dance of all kinds. You will usually find her in her writing cave, surrounded by her dragon collection and the characters in her head.

BOTTLED will release July 7, 2016, from Clean Reads.   

Connect with Carol:

Add this book to your Goodreads reading list: BOTTLED

A huge congrats to Carol and holy cow! Is that not a gorgeous cover? 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Show & Tell

I know we've played this game before, but I always think it's fun to check in with everyone, plus some of you may not have played before...

Here's how it works. In the comments share

1) the title, or working title of whatever you're working on

2)Genre/age group

3) what's the story about; be as brief as possible

4) who's your main character (if more than one pick one)

5) where are you in the story? What's happening?

Here are my answers:

1) AMONG US (as a side note, I have to admit I'm cheating on my almost complete story, BELL, BLACK, & BRIAR but my excuse is I'm getting ready to sell my house and have given myself permission to take it easy and write fanfic instead, just for fun. It's based on an old John Carpenter movie, They Live. ).

2) YA Scifi

3) Two girls. One big problem. Aliens.

4) Sati is who I started off with

5) My other mc, Valerie, has just discovered that the sunglasses the blind man gave her reveal people for what they really are. And some of them aren't human...

Now it's your turn. I can't wait to see what you're working on! I'll be back Wednesday with a very cool cover reveal, and on Friday I'll be back with more questions for you about what you're working on.

Have some pretty to start your week off with :)

Boothbay Botanical gardens July 2009

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The True Power of Words

Have you ever written a story that creeped you out?  Have you ever written a story that shocked you so much you knew your readers would “never see it coming” (whatever “it” might be) simply because you didn’t?  Have you ever written a story that really made you laugh or cry?  Have you ever had a story that haunted your dreams?

The power contained within the written word can often be stunning even to us, the ones who used them to create a story.  I love it when I get to a part where I have to sit back for a moment and say, “Man.  I never expected that.”  If I didn’t expect it, then the readers likely won’t, and that’s always great.

I love it when a story consumes me so it’s all I think about.  When I was in school, my mama said she could always tell when I was writing.  Even if she didn’t see me doing it, she knew.  How?  I talked in my sleep.  No kidding.  When I was in high school, I had two major passions…Drama (the kind where you perform on stage, not the “She was flirting with MY boyfriend!” type) and writing.  One day the idea occurred to me that I wanted to write a play.  I had written a couple of short scripts for my drama class a few times, but not a full play.  Well, during the time I was working on this, my talking in my sleep reached an
all-time high.  One night my mama and step-daddy were in bed half-asleep when my step-daddy started hearing a sound.  After a few minutes, he realized I was talking.  After a few more minutes, he asked Mama, “Who is she talking to?”  Mama said, “Don’t worry about it.  She’s writing again.”  I actually knew why I was talking that particular time when I learned I had been talking in my sleep.  That particular night I dreamed about the play.  Not writing it, but the play itself.  The storyline.  It was a surreal and vivid dream, and in all honesty, I don’t think the storyline varied much from what I had dreamed.  I finished the play a few days later.

Another time, I was working on a story that was inspired by an old house that was rumored to be haunted.  My sister and I were spending the weekend with a friend of ours, and a friend of hers had a birthday party, so we all went to spend the night at this other girl’s house.  The girl started telling us about this old house that was in the woods at the edge of their property.  Then she started telling us about some of the strange things that had happened to her and her brother when they had gone there, and she said that her brother had made her promise to stay away from that house unless he was with her.  I can’t remember the things she said happened, but something about the house intrigued me.  Yep.  I’m one of those.  Tell me a place is haunted, and I want to go see it.

Anyway, the next morning when the others were still asleep, I went to the woods to see if I could find the house.  Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately, depending on how you look at it, since I didn’t tell anyone where I was going…), I didn’t get to go in the house, because that area was a bit of a low-lying area and parts of it were marshy.  While the idea of the house didn’t scare me, the idea of the very living animals that were in the woods DID scare me.  I remember the thoughts of alligators creeping into my head because of the area being so marshy.  And then of course, there were the animal bones I came across.  I finally made the decision to return to the house, but I took something with me.  The idea for a story.  I started writing this story and it was getting to be what I loved.  Powerful, consuming.  My characters were coming to life.  I can’t remember how long I worked on it, but I had over one hundred hand-written pages.

Then came the nightmare.  I won’t bore you with the entire dream because the first part doesn’t really apply here.  I can say this.  The dream FELT REAL.  I was in Florida, and I was walking down a sidewalk with some guy that I think was a guide of some sort.  To our left was a wooden fence, then a stretch of beach, and then the ocean.  The guide and I were talking, and then I started to say, “Florida is beautiful.”  But when I turned to the guide, I saw an alarmed look cross his face as he stared down the sidewalk in front of us.  I looked and saw a crowd of people, and they appeared to be fighting.  The guide ran toward the crowd, and I followed.  I could feel the stitch forming in my side, and I could feel the fear that was creeping in on me.  When we reached the crowd, there was this guy in the middle with shoulder-length blonde hair, and he was struggling with someone.  The guy had a knife in his hand.  I can still see.  A large pocket-style knife.  The handle had this clear yellow plastic on each side.  Sort of like those screwdriver handles that are yellow, but that you can see through, like a clear but colored plastic.  Somehow I got shoved into the center of the crowd, and suddenly the blonde guy broke free of the people who were trying to restrain him and he was standing right in front of me.  He started cutting me with the knife, just below my breasts, across my ribcage.  I FELT every slice of that blade.  FELT it.

Then the dream shattered, literally.  It fragmented into a million pieces and fell away like broken glass.  For several minutes, I was suspended in darkness.  Then I could sense that the light in our bedroom was on, and I could sense that my sister was there.  I could hear everything, but I was still in sleep paralysis.  I couldn’t move.  I felt like I couldn’t breathe.  No, literally.  It felt like my lungs weren’t going to take in a breath.  Finally, the paralysis broke, and I drew in this great ragged breath.  I still couldn’t move or open my eyes, but I heard my sister react to my breath.  She put her hand on me and said “Angela.”  Then I was able to move.  I sucked in another breath and sat straight up.  Then I yanked my shirt up with one hand, and started running my hand over my skin across my ribcage where the man had cut me.  Then I burst into tears.  I couldn’t stop crying and I couldn’t talk.  My sister took me to Mama’s room where she and my step-daddy were sitting on their bed.  Mama took one look at me and wanted to know what was wrong.  I still couldn’t talk.  You know how you get those hard lumps in your throat, and you can barely swallow around it?  You know how you’re very well aware that if you try to talk through it at that particular moment in time, you’re not going to be able to do anything but sob uncontrollably and not get a single coherent word out?  Yeah, that’s what I was experiencing.

Anyway, I was finally able to tell them about the dream, and it made it a little better.  But that dream scared me.  Badly.  So badly that I never wrote another word in the one-hundred plus page story I had been working on about the haunted house in the woods.  Why?  Because the man that cut me in my dream was a main character in the story.  A guy named Matthew that was demonic or possessed, I’m not sure which, because I hadn’t gotten that far.  In what I had of the story, he had lured his sister to that house and sacrificed her with a very interesting dagger.  What was so interesting about the dagger?  I didn’t know yet, aside from the way it looked.  So yeah, I stopped writing that story…cold.  I kept it because I thought that maybe I’d go back to it one day.  I didn’t.  Several years later I burned it.

That was the first time I ever really experienced the true power of my own words.
So, have you ever written something that terrified you?  Made you deliriously happy?  Creeped you out a little?  Grossed you out?  Made you cry an ocean?  Tell us about it!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Some Non-Writers Just Don't Understand

Some Non-Writers Just Don’t Understand

*Please note:  This doesn’t apply to all non-writers.  Just a select few, and you likely know who the ones in your life are.

If you’re a writer (and most likely, you are.  Why else would you be reading this blog?), chances are you’ve come across some interesting questions, misconceptions, or behavior from some non-writers.  There are a lot of things some non-writers just don’t get about us.  We have a tendency to clear our search histories because if a non-writer ever saw the things we researched, they might be inclined to call the local police, or even the FBI.  They certainly might be a lot less comfortable around those of us who have to research murder weapons, ways to dispose of bodies, and rates of decomposition.  And heaven forbid if you ever start sharing some of the interesting tidbits of information you dig up during the course of your research.  But that’s not the only thing non-writers don’t get.

Many don’t even understand how the process works.  Once I was telling someone about a story I was working on, and the person asked me how the story ended.  Well, I was forced to admit that I didn’t know yet.  They asked me how I couldn’t know, wasn’t I the one writing the story?  Well, I’m a pantser, not a plotter, so no, I really had no idea how things were going to turn out.  We can discuss pantsing vs. plotting at another time, but I will say that I’ve never been a plotter.  When I was in creative writing classes in school, I despised the outline with a purple passion, as we used to say.  My stories NEVER stuck to the outline, and the few times I tried to force it to stick to the outline, the story came out lifeless and forced, not very good at all.  While I didn’t realize that what I was doing had a name, I did know that I wrote better when I just sat down and started writing.  Most of the time, my characters would come to life and started doing whatever they wanted, and let me tell you, it was wonderful to watch.  Disconcerting sometimes, because sometimes they would do things I didn’t want them to do, or they would do things that shocked me, but fun nonetheless.  But most non-writers don’t understand that.  The scope of their experience with writing is whatever they learned in creative writing or composition classes in school, and most of those classes crammed the outline down your throat.  They think that’s the process for every writer.  That you sit down, plot out your story and then write it.  Some non-writers just don’t understand that sometimes you don’t know everything about your story while you’re writing it.

Along those same lines is the question of “How long is your story going to be?” or “How many chapters is it going to have?” or “How many pages will it be?”  Uh…I don’t know.  The first time I was ever asked that question, I sort of stared at the person who asked.  I honestly didn’t know how to answer her.  Of course, as a writer, I always knew the story was done when the story was done.  It came to its conclusion on its own, and that was always what determined the length of the story.  I once wrote a story for the school writing fair that was somewhere between sixteen and twenty hand-written pages.  (I still have part of the copy floating around here somewhere, but I believe the last couple of pages are missing.  And yes, there are plot holes in the story that I cringed over when reading it a few years ago, before the ending went missing.  But it was pretty good, and I was happy it placed in the writing fair.)  It was one of those stories that originated from a prompt the teacher gave us, and the other kids in my Freshman Honors English class were stunned that my story was so long.  They wondered why I didn’t MAKE it shorter.  It didn’t seem long to me.  The story ended when it reached its natural conclusion.  In all honesty, I could have expanded it, but it probably was long for a school assignment.  The point is, again, the story ended when it ended.  I didn’t set out to write a long story, but that’s what happened.  Some non-writers just don’t understand that a story ends when it ends, and that you don’t always have control over the length (at least, not before revisions and edits).

And what about the misconception that makes well-meaning people tell you how much it’s going to cost you to publish your story?  Yes, now we have a lot of indie writers who self-publish, but they’re not talking about that.  They’re talking about taking your story to a vanity or subsidy press.  These people want to tell you that you’ll have to have a lot of money to get your book published.  I try to very politely tell them that you don’t HAVE to publish that way, that you can try to get an agent and publish your book through one of the “big houses”.  When I tell them that, they want to tell me I HAVE to have my manuscript in printed book format before I can even get an agent or publisher to look at it.  I try to again politely point out that’s not true, but they’ll have none of that because they know someone (relative, friend, cousin of a friend, boyfriend’s sister’s first cousin’s daughter) who couldn’t get an agent or publisher to look at their manuscript and they were told (by whom?  I’d love to know) they would have to have the book published before those people would even look at it.  At this point, I have two options.  A) Say “Okay” or “I didn’t know that” and move on while feeling sorry for the person who actually fell for that scam, or B) get into an argument that would only lead to hurt feelings and in which I would likely be called names.  I’m more likely to choose A., unless the person trying to argue with me is someone I really can’t stand.  Some non-writers just don’t understand that you don’t HAVE to publish your book to get published.

Another favorite misconception of some non-writers that I love is that since a person writes, the writer must always have time to spare, since they, you know, don’t have a “real job”.  They don’t understand that many writers do have a set schedule for when they write.  It might be from 7:00 am to 9:00 am.  Or it might be from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm.  It doesn’t matter what the time is, a lot of writers do have a writing schedule.  But the non-writers think they can drop in or call anytime, even if they KNOW the writer’s schedule, and they expect the writer to drop everything and cater to them.  If the writer tries to tell the non-writer that they’re trying to work and can they call them back or visit later, the non-writer either want to know A) when they got a new job, or B) what time they have to be at work, or C) what the writer’s plans are, and maybe they could do it together.  Now, I’m all for spending time with family and friends, absolutely love it.  However, this always strikes me as a bit rude, not to mention depressing.  If the person knows they’re invading the writer’s writing period, this shows a lack of respect for the writer and their chosen field of work, which is what I find rude.  I also said depressing, because it seems like the person doesn’t support what you’re trying to do in life, that they don’t take your dream seriously, or they don’t think you’re going to be successful anyway, so what’s the big deal?  Or all three.  Yeah, that’s just depressing.  Some non-writers just don’t understand that your time is just a valuable as anyone else’s.

Some non-writers don’t understand why you’re so excited that your character just showed you how they really feel about the boy who sits across from them in psych class (especially true if you’re a pantser). Or why you’re a little creeped out by your character because they’ve decided they’re done with their girlfriend and are now going to kill her because they decided that even though they don’t want her, they don’t want anyone else to have her, either.

Some non-writers don’t understand how you can cry because a character YOU CREATED had to die, or isn’t going to wind up with the person you thought they would wind up with.  They’re going to tell you if you feel so upset about it, why don’t you just NOT kill them off, or why don’t you just put the couple together.  They don’t understand you when you tell them it doesn’t always work that way, that the story is the boss and that you’re just the medium through which the story chooses to tell itself.  Again, this is primarily true if you’re a pantser.

Granted, this isn’t true of all non-writers, and bless those this doesn’t apply to.  We need their support!

But sometimes, some non-writers just don’t understand.

What are some things you’ve been told or asked by non-writers?  Or some things you wish non-writers wouldn’t do?

Friday, May 13, 2016

Are You a Plotter, a Panster or a Plantser?

           Credit images: Wisegeek.com, Theskichannel.com and
Happy Friday! Well, maybe not so happy for me as I’m sneezing, sniffling, stuffed up and coughing. What a way to end my first week of blog posts on Unicorn Bell.
Anyways, there are different types of writers. Not only in what they write but also in how they write their stories. Whether it’s romances, fantasies, science fiction, historical fiction, memoirs or literary fiction. And no matter if it’s middle grade, young adult, new adult or adult. We all have a preferred writing process to the stories we write. And they’re happen to be three process categories fall into.
If you’re a plotter, then you’re architect type. From beginning to end, plotters know how their story will progress. They have outlined and pre-plotted everything. They’ve laid the foundations for which to build their story from. On the downside, it leaves little room for flexibility. And if they happen to get stuck, they return to the drawing board (their outline) and might start anew.
You’re not a plotter? Then you might be on the other side of the spectrum, a pantser. If a plotter is the architect, then the pantser is a daredevil. They sit in front of a computer or a blank page and fly. They dive in head first, letting their imagination splash across the pages. They do not outline. They prefer their characters, scenes, storyline, etc. to unfold before their eyes. Unfortunately, a pantser’s downside is that the story can run amok. With no guideposts to keep the story on track.
You’re not a plotter but don’t think you’re a pantser either? Then you might be like me, who straddle the best of both worlds, a plantser. A plantser outlines and pre-plots yet only have a general idea of how the story begins, climaxes and ends. Like the plotter, they’ll have character profiles/dossiers. Like the pantser, they let their characters have free reign over the story. The writer doesn’t know where the story is going as they take a back seat. And release control to let their characters fuel the story forward. Trusting them in telling their story as it unfolds. And oftentimes, they’d stray away from the outline. For example, the heroine in my current WIP, changed her older brother into her younger brother.
So, which team are you on? Are you a plotter, pantser or plantser? What do you like about being either? Have you ever changed teams before?

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Genesis of a Writer

Genesis. The beginning of everything. In Genesis 1 in the bible, the creation of the universe began when God said “let there be light.”

So what does genesis have to do with writing? For writers, there is  a specific pinpoint that contributes to the creation of stories. Whole worlds, although imagined, made alive with pen and paper. And made the more beautiful and intriguing as not all creation stories behind the story are the same.

The genesis of a book is something that always interested me. It’s a question I love asking authors when I take part in their blog tours. For many, the story came from a muse whispering in their ear or a suggestion made by others. I find it fascinating to learn more about the story behind the story.

JK Rowling created the Harry Potter because of a delayed train. And wrote out the idea for the series on a napkin. The Hunger Games creation story was influenced by reality TV shows. Roman gladiator games and the Greek myth of the Minotaur.

The genesis of my own WIP supernatural novel Nadia the Fire Witch (tentative title) came from a dream. Where a girl risks her identity as a witch to save a friend. Just thought she was too bada** to let her stay inside a dream. My urban fantasy novella The Soul Traveler is also based on a dream. And the genesis of my epic fantasy Harbinger of El Tinor (in hiatus) happened while waiting for a delayed train. Hmm, isn’t that a similar situation to someone?

Anyways, there’s a story behind every story. And I’d like to know more about your story(s) ‘let there be light’ moment. Care to share the where, when, how, etc?

Monday, May 9, 2016

Warning...This Person Is a Writer

First off, I hope everyone had a Happy Mother’s Day!
And thanks again to Chrys, CD, Charity, Elizabeth, Angela, Kristin and Marcy. Thanks for welcoming me as the newest moderator on Unicorn Bell.
As for my first official post on UB, I thought and thought about what can I blog about. What topic you’d find interesting, intellectual, funny and engaging.
But then I remembered that I also have to attend my work conference this week. Which I’ve been dreading for over a month now. I’m in for a long, long week. And will be in dire need of a few good laughs to shake off the lethargy of it all. So funny post it will be.
Last August #TenThingsNotToSayToAWriter started trending on Twitter. I also remembered a comedy skit. About how easy relationships would be if men and women walked around with warning labels. And I thought why not combine the two in some sort of game. A game of why writers should not be underestimated. Nor are they people you should mess with.
So let's have some fun with a game of ‘Warning...This person is a writer. He/she’ and finish it with the craziest, funniest, zaniest thing we can think of.
It can be based on things we’ve actually done. For example, if remembered correctly, Gilderoy Lockheart is actually based on a real person. As admitted by JK Rowling. Who also found the person Lockheart is based on annoying.
Or just make it up. Maybe it’s something we want to secretly do (in our writing). But we just haven’t met the person(s) who’ll make it possible.
Let’s start things off!
  • Warning...this person is a writer. He/she is a hand-to-hand combat elite who can pull your brains through your nose.
  • Warning...this person is a writer. He/she knows all your secrets and is itching to tell the whole world.
  • Warning...this person is a writer. He/she talks to dead people. Imaginary people. And people who exist on different planes.

Have you ever pulled a JK Rowling and written an annoying character based on someone real? Did you write them into embarrassing, humorous scenes? Or ever killed off a character who was based on someone real?

Friday, May 6, 2016

The Writer's Playlist--Teddy's Story Joint by Studio C

Here's two short videos thanks to my kids. They love Sudio C. I don't always get the humor in all of them, but these were two of my favorites.

 Do you wish you could just order up?

Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Writer's Playlist--Read Me Maybe, Reading, and All About Them Books

Did you know my major was Elementary Education? Yep, that's why I chose to be a substitute teacher. I never had my own class because my hubby and I started our family, but I've always enjoyed being around kids. I especially love it when they get into writing.

Today I'm saluting kids, teachers, and the librarians who keep the supply flowing.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Writer's Playlist--Dramatic Song by Toby Turner (Tobuscus)

This song makes me laugh every time. Listen and then we'll talk about what it has to do with writing.

:) Are you smiling?

We've all been here, right? Every writer comes to the writing world with different natural talents, but that doesn't mean we get it right the first time. It takes work and practice. Maybe we follow a formula. Maybe we try to make our story sound like an author we admire. Whatever it is, we eventually have to find our own voice, our own words.

What other writing lessons can you pull from this song?

You can also check out his Depressing Song, The Sideburns Song, What Does the Fax Say, and the Viral Song. His feed is great background music for cleaning the house. Seriously. If you have to clean the house you should play something to make you laugh because it's so silly.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Writer's Playlist--The Fog of Writing by Barenaked Ladies

You can find the most amazing things on YouTube. And the craziest. I love it! This week I'll be sharing fun songs about writing. Hope you enjoy!

This one is from a dear friend's favorite group. Seriously, she talks about BNL all the time. Of course they'd have a song about writing. They are referring to writing songs, but it fits any form of writing.
 Did you find yourself dancing along? What parts called out to you and your current writing?

I loved the beginning about changing names and tense, but if you substitute the word novel for song the whole thing is perfect.

The fog of writing is like the fog of war. 
You lie to yourself, and you pretend you can do it so you can do it some more.
You make things right, and make some sense. 
You change names to protect the guilty and you change the tense. 
Can I change your mind? 
This [novel] could be the one!

Yep, been there. Felt and thought every one of those lines. How about you?