Justice (Deck of Lies, #1)

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The Tower (Deck of Lies, #2)

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Death (Deck of Lies, #3)

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Judgment (Deck of Lies, #4)

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Hope's Rebellion

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Monday, March 23, 2020

Writing 101: Re-Writing the Rules

There are certain things that every fan knows about zombies, vampires and werewolves. You probably have some ideas about what elves are supposed to be. Everybody knows what a hobbit should look like. And if you imagine a dragon, it's probably going to breathe fire at some point. There are certain creatures and creations that have their own lore and mythology. But here's the thing: some writer made all that junk up. So if you're going to include a mythical creature or human-like thing in one of your books...who says you can't re-write all the rules?

Sparkly Vampires

There are certain accepted "facts" about mythical creatures and beings. For instance, everyone knows that sunlight kills vampires. But here's the deal: vampires are made up! Vampires were the invention of a writer. Doesn't that mean that new generations of writers can re-write those rules?

After all, it has been done before. In the uber-popular "Twilight" series of books, author Stephenie Meyer made up a whole new set of rules. Her vampires didn't die in the sunlight, they sparkled. And while purists poo-pooed at this idea, it's hard to argue with the success of 100 million copies sold and five feature-length films. 

So should your hobbits be tall? Should your trolls be sexy? Should your zombies break the most well-known rule of them all...and actually talk? Yes! If you want to write it, write it. As an author, you're always allowed to re-write rules, make up your own lore and go ahead and create brand-new traditions. After all, dragons exist only in stories. So who says that your dragons can't be as different and unique as you want them to be?

Sometimes, re-writing all those "rules" of lore works really well. The secret is to be committed and to be fearless. After all, it's your story. You make the rules.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Writing 101: Killing Your Darlings

"Kill your darlings" is common advice that people who don't write give to writers. What does this expression mean...and should you be following it?

There's a lot of different advice out there for writers. Apparently, just about everybody knows how you should be writing your novels. "Kill your darlings" is one extremely common expression that's told to writers all the time. Basically, it means that you should kill off your favorite characters.

Killing Characters

The philosophy behind it is that the plot will make a bigger impact on readers when you kill off your favorites, because your favorite characters will be the audience's favorites, too. 

It's true that the death of a character should create a visceral reaction in readers. You want them to feel it. You even want them to cry...at least a little. But when it comes to writing, nothing is ever as easy as a cute little motto or a pat piece of advice.

Killing Them Softly

Because "kill your darlings" can be done badly, too. And the trouble is, by now everyone's heard this advice. Even non-writers have heard this incredibly common expression and they know what it means. Readers are savvy to all the tricks that writers attempt to pull off. If you work too hard to make a character likable, you might as well just name the character Hi I'm Going to Die. 

You never want readers to sense the plot that's coming. You want to keep them guessing, shake them up, twist them and shock them. And if you create some super-lovable character that they're patently supposed to like, it's pretty guaranteed that they won't like that character. When the clear "darling" dies, readers will turn the page with hardly even a sigh.

Die, Die My Darling

There are some "right" ways to kill your darlings without spoiling your own plot. With an audience of sophisticated readers who won't fall for a simple trope like "kill your darlings," you're going to need to be a bit more clever.

  • You can always make a character so darling to readers, they think you'd never kill them off. Don't just make them like the character. Make them adore the character. Once the audience thinks that person is definitely safe, drop the hammer...so to speak. 
  • Make them darling later. Turn the idea upside-down by making readers like a character only after death. This way, the death will continue to resonate with readers as they learn how likable an already-deceased character truly was. When they read the book a second time, the death will be even more powerful than it was to them on the first read.
  • Kill someone who seems really important. Killing a character who feels like a main character can be shocking and devastating when it's handled the right way. Your main character's love interest or best friend, for example, can become a shocking death on the page. Kill a character that seems like a solid, integral part of the story.
It's every writer's task to find a way to twist plots and take old tropes and turn them into something new. You can follow the standard advice of killing your darlings...but try to do it in a way they won't see coming, or it won't have the effect you want.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

War and Battle in the Sea

"Jade Varden’s imaginative and creative description of the underwater living world is to be praised, especially for her unique War and Battle in the ocean approach opposing most of the fairytale stories about mermaids and their lands."
"Song of the Sea" has been expertly photographed and reviewed at Bookidote. Visit the site to read the whole review!

Get your print copy of "Song of the Sea" at Amazon.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Writing 101: The Non-Character Narrator

First-person narratives directly connect the main character of a book with the audience. I am telling you these things, I am relating my story to you as the first-person narrator. But sometimes, the narrator will talk to you, as a reader, even when they aren't a character in the story itself. It can get a little tricky to pull this off, but it can be an effective tool for certain types of stories.

The Way I Heard It...

In a first-person narrative, the main character is directly relating events that happened (or are happening) to them. But you can also directly address the reader using a narrator who isn't even in the story. These narrators are relaying events that they know about, but didn't experience. And yes, it can be pretty hard to write. But there are reasons why you might want to try it.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Writing 101: Author Reviews

It can be really hard to get reviews for a book, and self-published authors are the type of people who take things into their own hands. That’s why some authors go ahead and take the next step on their own, and write author reviews of their own books. Should you...or shouldn’t you? 

Your Own Drum

Many self-published authors also review books. I’ve done it before, myself. It’s a good way to get more exposure for indie authors of all kinds, and it’s something to blog about. So what’s to stop an indie author, any kind of author, from reviewing their own book? There are reasons why you shouldn’t, clearly...but there is a way you can do it with a touch of class, too.

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Art of Being Stubborn

Unless you're one of them, it's hard to know what the life of a really big-time author is like. Imagine having 20 bestsellers on your bookshelf and tons of fans tweeting you all day long. Now imagine that you've got all that...and you still can't really write what you want. One famous author had to keep trying, for 20 years, to create the one project he felt passionate about. His name was Michael Crichton, and his project was a little TV series called "ER." This author knew the art of being stubborn.

He Knew He Could

You know Michael Crichton. He's the guy who wrote "Jurassic Park," "Congo," "The Andromeda Strain" and like several other books that were made into bigtime feature films. But he's also the guy that's ultimately behind "ER," a project that he tried to get going for about 20 years.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Get Jade's New Book

Death and the Deep is finally here! 

Use the links above to get your own copy of Death and the Deep.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Writing 101 Redux: Learning to Research

If you've going to write a book, you're going to have to learn how to research. Read today's Throwback Thursday tip, and learn all my research tricks.

Learning to research is something all authors have to do...but maybe this Writing 101 tip will help you figure it out a little more quickly.