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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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Writing 101 Redux: You Don't Have to Write in Order

They say that Margaret Mitchell wrote Chapter 1 of "Gone With the Wind" after the rest of the book was finished. Sometimes, the only way to get through the first draft is to start skipping over stuff. You can always get back to it later.


Read all about the fine art of skipping around when you write in this week's Throwback Writing 101 tip!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Writing 101: Why You Have to Micromanage

I had a bit of trouble getting a cover together for my most recent (finished) book. Well, that’s a euphemism. The truth is, I bought like 5 covers. I wish I was exaggerating that number even a little. The first 4 times, I was way too considerate of other people’s creative process. I’ve learned that when you self-publish, even if you don’t do every little thing yourself you have to micromanage every little thing about your book. If not, you’re going to end up with half a dozen covers that you can’t even use.


Every Little Breath You Take

As an indie author, you don’t necessarily have to do everything yourself -- but you do have to direct all of it. Even if you hire an editor, a trailer-maker, a graphic cover designer or a guy to write your Tweets, you’ve got to tell them in explicit detail exactly what you want and what you expect. Because, as I learned, you’re just wasting time and money if you do otherwise.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Writing 101: The Book That Breaks Your Heart

Writing books is a stressful and overwhelming experience, but at the end of the project it fills you with a wonderful sense of accomplishment. Writing books can even be fun...until you write the book that breaks your heart. Maybe it doesn’t happen to all authors, but it did happen to me. Maybe it’ll happen to you, too.


Just Me and My Shadow


In looking back through the blog, you will find that I actually mention this book a lot. I'm being honest when I say I can't get over it; I still think about it all the time. I wrote it some years ago and loved it too well. There's much more to the story, but the point of it is that this book gave me writer's block for an inordinately long amount of time. I put it away and tried to forget it. I got it back out and re-read it. I thought that would help me get it out of my system. It didn't. I’ve read it since. I still feel the heartbreak when that book, somehow, gets brought into the conversation.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Louisa May Alcott Didn’t Want to Write YA

If you've watched the movie version of "Little Women," you know that Jo wrote stories of murder, revenge, passion and crime. So did Louisa May Alcott as a young writer. That's what she always wanted to write about. But when her family fell on hard time, she had to write something that would sell. That's how she got into the YA literature game...and that's the stuff that she didn't like writing.


Choices

Louisa May Alcott was around 35 when her editor told her to try writing a book for girls, rather than the crime-laden tales she preferred to pen. Alcott wouldn't have followed his advice, but her family was in dire financial straits. Her father had squandered most of the family's wealth, and they were suffering.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Writing 101 Redux: Are You Too Lengthy?

So, are your books just too long? 


Read today's Throwback Writing 101 about going to extreme lengths to find out just how long too long really is.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Writing 101: How Much Blood is Too Much Blood?

I had to take a break after finishing a chapter in my first draft last weekend, and I realized that maybe, just maybe, I crossed a literary line. So now I’ve got to ask myself, how much blood is too much blood in a book? 


Let’s Get Drenched

A certain amount of violence is to be expected in certain types of stories. Can you imagine “The Princess Bride” without the exciting swordfighting? How’d you like to read the Harry Potter books without the wizard dueling? Or maybe you’d be jazzed to crack open a copy of “Divergent” without all the battle scenes and training? Of course not, there would be nothing left. So sometimes, a little bit of violence is required. Or even a lot. But plenty of books don’t get gruesome about it. That makes it tricky for other authors to find out where that line is located. Do you know where it’s at?
http://jadevarden.blogspot.com/2013/12/writing-101-writing-responsibly.html

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Writing 101: When Hard Work Doesn’t Pay Off

I’ve been vocal in my belief that writing is a skill that can be learned with practice, patience and hard work. It is hard work, though many envision something far different when they first pursue the writing dream. It takes a lot of research, editing and rewriting to come up with something decent, let alone great. But here’s the secret about writing: hard work doesn’t always pay off.


Blood, Sweat and Tears

Many authors will agree that often, luck and good connections play a part in success. If you are obsessed with learning about the backstories of authors, as I am, you will see this is a thread that’s repeated often. Many authors either a) got lucky or b) knew the right people. Of course, they were also talented and hard-working writers. But it’s also true that sometimes, hard work alone just isn’t enough.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Day Agatha Christie Went Crazy, Maybe

I don’t know if my blog posts have accurately echoed my dismay, but lately I’ve been feeling a little bit like I want to run around outside screaming, or maybe take a trip to London to stand in that famous park and rant all day long. In some ways, I can understand the people who walk around putting up signs that warn about the upcoming end of the world. In short, I’ve been climbing walls and freaking out. And as long as I don’t do any of those weird things, I guess that’s okay...because Agatha Christie went a little crazy once, too. Well, maybe.


Her Greatest Mystery

For 11 days, the famous Queen of mystery novels went missing. Vanished. The year was 1926, the whole event was totally bizarre, and people have been trying to unravel this lingering mystery in all the decades since. 


Saturday, July 18, 2015

Saltwater Secrets Book 2: Sneak Peek

This is a Jade’s blog exclusive look at Book 2 in the Saltwater Secrets trilogy. Book 1, Song of the Sea, is available in paperback and ebook now.


The waves were the color of steel, flat and dark against the frozen air. The sky was gray, too, and the salt smell was almost overpowering. A storm was brewing, a big one. I walked just to the edge of the beach and stopped to stare up at the sky.

“There you are. Finally.”

“Nix?” I knelt down to speak to the bobbing woman who had just surfaced. “I thought I saw you earlier.”

“You did.” Nixie heaved herself out of the water, swinging her tail around to flop it onto the sand. She was planning to stay for a long chat. When she was staying only briefly, Dylan’s sister stayed in the water.

She gathered her wet hair at her neck and draped it over one shoulder to keep it from dripping on her drying tail. “I saw all the excitement and decided to wait,” Nixie finished her thought.

We both looked out at the water while she flopped her tail against the sand, drying it so that her legs would appear. That way, I wouldn't look like a crazy person if someone saw me talking to her. It just wasn’t normal to sit on a beach at night and chat with someone hanging halfway in the ocean. It took me more than one visit to explain that to Nixie.

“Yeah,” I glanced over my shoulder at my house. It was still black against the night sky; for once, my dad wasn't in the kitchen. “I had a birthday party. Or, friends had it for me. Only I wasn't there a whole lot.”

“I noticed,” Nixie answered. “Here.”

“What's this?” I picked up the package she had tossed into my lap. It was a small, leather pouch with a rope of seaweed holding it closed.

“For your birthday.”

I smiled at her, but she was still staring at the water. “That was nice of you to remember. I know that merfolk don’t really have birthdays.”

She shrugged. “Humans do, though. Open it up.”

It took me a few minutes to unknot the seaweed, and once the pouch was open I saw an object wrapped in more seaweed. Nixie stayed silent while I grunted my way through the present. She was like that. She could sit and be quiet and still.

I’m not like that. I fidget and talk and grunt, and I was making noise while I pulled the ropy sea plants away. Once I finally exposed the object, I still had no idea what it was. “It's lovely.”

Now Nix did look at me, and she was smirking. “It isn't meant to be lovely.”

“Then what’s it meant to be?” I looked up at her. It was a mistake. I tried to avoid looking directly at Nixie’s face whenever possible. I looked at the necklace she always wore, or her dark blonde hair. Looking at her eyes was a mistake. They were too similar to Dylan’s dizzying blue-green eyes. Too often, I caught myself looking at Nixie and wishing I was looking at him instead.

“It’s a lodestone. A natural magnet.”

“Oh.” I picked up the rock and rolled it between my fingers. “It looks like a shiny piece of coal.”

“It’s not. It can even be used as a compass.” Her tail was dry now. It had split into two long legs.

“And where will it lead me?”

“Where you belong.” Nixie didn’t look at me when she answered, and that was for the best. We were both looking out at the waves.

“This rock knows where I belong?”

“Sure. Don't you?”

“No,” I answered honestly.

“That's why I gave it to you.”


Look for Book 2 in the Saltwater Secrets trilogy this September!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Writing 101 Redux: Are Prologues Really That Bad?

Some say that prologues are the worst, but are they right? 


Read this week's Throwback Thursday Writing 101 post to find out, and see how you feel about prologues at the end.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Writing 101: Instability

For the purposes of this post, let’s assume that you are not the author of “Gone With the Wind” or “Catcher in the Rye.” Let’s also assume you did not create the Harry Potter series. That leaves pretty much all the other authors out there. This is the group who lives with daily instability. And for those who are wondering, the answer is no. It’s not going away...well, unless you write the next Harry Potter, of course. 


Tightrope

For even established authors and writers, the writing game is a tightrope walk. There are pretty much two ways to make money as an author: write a few books that sell a whole lot of copies, or write a lot of books that sell a great many copies. If you’re not doing that, you’re not really making money. As a freelance writer, most of the time you’re going to need to have a lot of jobs that pay well (and a few that don’t really pay that well) just to make ends meet. And here’s the thing about both authors and writers: the rug can get pulled out from under you at basically any moment. Then, you’ll fall down. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Writing 101: First Draft, Version 2.0

Recently, after many nights of struggle, I managed to finish the final chapter of the first draft of my next novel. But I wouldn’t go as far as saying that I finished the first draft, because I haven’t. For this particular book, I found there was really only one way I could write it and manage to get anything accomplished: sloppily. So I say to all you authors with ugly first drafts, welcome. We are as one.


Building a Book

Did you ever build a model of something for school? I was once tasked with creating a sculpture out of trash, an assignment that lots of people get that I personally think is in poor form. But my grades in Science were always questionable, so I made the sculpture. It was a telephone, because I’m a girl. I started by gluing the popsicle sticks together to create a flat base first. Later, I put together my bubble gum wrapper chain and cut a foam cup to make an ear and mouthpiece. I didn’t add the spray paint until it was all assembled, and it wasn’t until that moment that it looked like something worth looking at. And yes, this bizarre anecdote has a point. A good one.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Dr. Seuss Never Had Kids, And Other Stuff You Can Write About Anyway

I'm fairly certain that there isn't one child born in America after 1955 who has not read a Dr. Seuss book, or had one read to them. Everyone knows who the Cat in the Hat is, the dangers of eating green eggs and ham, and that the ocean has red fish in it. But here's the thing that shocked me the first time I found out about it: Dr. Seuss never had any children. There's all sort stuff you can write about anyway, even if you haven't had every experience you're going to put on the page.


Oh, the Places You Will Write

One of my favorite authors took a research trip to write her books, which are set in the Ice Age. I read all about the trip, because she wrote about that as well, with great interest. She trekked all around those caves in France with the caveman drawings, explored all around the Danube, looked at artifacts in museums. And for a few minutes, I was really envious of that trip. Then I realized something important: I don't really want to go on a trip like that. Walk around in a cave and explore a riverbank? Not likely. And the thing is, I don't have to do that. There are all sorts of things you can write about anyway, like if you’re a children’s book author with no kids.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Writing 101 Redux: Do You Pay for Your Reviews?

All indie authors will be faced with a choice at some point, and you'll have to ask yourself a question: should you pay for your reviews?



Read today's Throwback Writing 101 to see the good and the bad of this option, and figure out what's going to work best for you.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Writing 101: Catching Up a Series

Catching up a series is the chore you have to face the moment you begin book number two. The problem with writing a series is that you have to begin each book as if your reader hasn’t read the other books in the series. But you also have to write it in a way that won’t annoy fans who are all caught up on all the other books so far. If you can balance yourself on this writing tightrope, you can create a great series. It’s actually much simpler to do than you probably think.


The Story So Far

I’m not going to lie: I’ve read book series out of order. It’s not my fault if book 1 isn’t available...or I don’t feel like reading it. I can’t help it if I’d rather skip straight to the last book than to start all over. Maybe I’ll get to that, eventually. The point is, I may not always be current on your book series when I pick up that book. What are you going to do about it?

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Writing 101: The Mini-Cliffhanger

There are some books that feel impossible to put down. You can’t stop turning pages. You keep on reading because you’ve got to find out what happens next. These are the books that readers remember. These are the type so books you want to write. And there’s a trick you can use it make it happen: the mini-cliffhanger.


Hanging By a Moment With You

Lots of readers hate cliffhanger endings in a book, but you can put all sorts of mini-cliffhangers in your book and still wrap things up neatly at the end. If you want to keep your readers turning the pages, put your cliffhangers where they belong: at the end of chapters.

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Secret Dark Side of Beatrix Potter

Children’s book lovers adore Beatrix Potter’s tales of Peter Rabbit and other living creatures. Self-published authors admire her pioneering efforts in the indie writing world. But many people don’t know that Beatrix Potter captured her own animals to study, before she meticulously skinned and dissected them to study them from the inside out. Lots of authors have a dark side, and Beatrix Potter did, too. 


And Your Little Dog, Too

There’s a reason that Beatrix Potter’s illustrations of animals are so lifelike, so perfectly detailed and startlingly accurate. She spent a great deal of time studying small animals. She was well-educated for her gender and her era, efforts that were encouraged by her parents. Beatrix Potter was intellectually curious and rather bold for a woman of her day. That’s why she wasn’t afraid to capture animals, peel off their skins and cut them open.

It’s just a little bit surprising that she’s also a celebrated and well-loved children's author, too.