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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Review: The Trio: A Collection of Completely Unrelated Short Stories

I wasn't planning to read all of The Trio: A Collection of Completely Unrelated Short Stories in one sitting, but I just couldn't put the Kindle down until I'd read every word. The first story grabbed me right away, and instantly I became a depressed alcoholic with a lifetime of sadness to endure.That's just the beginning of the emotional ride Alyse Bingham creates with her Trio.

Each one of the three stories in the collection is completely different. Each provides insight into the main characters, just briefly enough to leave me wishing for much more. Bingham's Trio is well-written, well formatted and well edited. Technically it's beautiful, but the book is easy and enjoyable to read not simply because the writer knows where to put her commas. The stories are truly heartfelt and filled with emotion, forcing me into having a strong response every time. I can't wait to read more of Bingham's works in the future. One trio of stories just isn't enough.

Review: Hansel and Gretel 2

I admit it: I don't usually read fairy tales, children's books or any of the above. But David L. Dawson's Hansel and Gretel 2: The Reckoning is a quick read, and I've started to become obsessed with fairy tales again thanks to Once Upon a Time. I'm glad I decided to download the Kindle version of this short story, because it turns out you're never too old for a good fairy tale sequel.

The sequel to the age-old, well-known story reveals a different side to those sweet-faced, breadcrumb-leaving youths of my youth. If you've ever suspected that there's something weird about a gingerbread house in the woods, or wondered how two little kids managed to overpower a woman fortified on fresh child meat, you'll probably enjoy this short story, too.

Dawson's story is refreshing, and somehow it feels both modern and classic at the same time. It's time someone started to reveal the real story behind all those wonderful old tales -- because really, you should never trust kids who throw bread around in the woods.

Writing 101: Getting Technical

Character development, plot, point of view, all these things help to create a book...but at the end of the story, they're all supporting players. The backbone of any book, of every book, is the technical aspect -- and this is what many indie authors neglect.

Let's Talk Tech

Writers are creative types, with big imaginations. They spin stories, weave plots and invent characters that become as real as the people in our own families. The writer is like an artist painting on a canvas. They're thinking about which colors to use, where to draw the lines, how to add shadows and nuances to certain elements of the big picture. And with all that going on, it's probably easy for the painter to shop thinking about the canvas that's being painted upon. But the writer can't ever forget all those technical details that matter so much -- the canvas on which the words are written.
  • Clean it up. All it takes is one misplaced comma for a reader to get taken out of the story they're reading. A glaring grammatical error, a quotation mark that's totally out of place, a badly-written line can be enough to turn a reader off any book. I once put down a novel because the writer put the apostrophe in the wrong place in the word "y'all." Apostrophes are very important to me. Always clean up your work. Edit and re-edit to fix spelling, grammar and punctuation errors.
  • Format it properly. Make your book look like a book. This is pretty simple advice -- some might say it's rather ridiculous even to bring it up -- but so many writers just ignore their formatting. Buy your book after you publish it online, and look at it with your own eyes. You should have paragraph indents or clean block paragraphs, chapter headings that stand out and a uniform look throughout. Readers aren't going to waste time on a book that's hard to read because it's not formatted well. 
Get Technical

Independent authors feel a lot of pressure to work quickly, to create their books as soon as possible in order to satisfy their current audience and continue to build upon it. But you can't afford to skip the little technical details that make your work look professional and well done. Take the time to edit, and download proper software to format your book so that it looks attractive. Free ebook software is available (I personally use Mobi) that makes it easy to get proper formatting. It takes extra time to work all those tedious technical details, but your readers will appreciate the effort.

Guest Post: Write or Wrong?

What's it like to be a writer? Read my thoughts about it at a recent guest post I did for Aside From Writing.

Justice Now Available at Smashwords

Justice is now available at Smashwords in several different formats. Keep checking back for the upcoming coupon event to learn how you can get it for free!

New Interview

The good folks at We Write Worlds interviewed me recently, and so far their questions have been the most unique. I really had to think about my responses for this one. Read the full interview to hear what I had to say about reading, writing and my personal experiences.

Justice Reviewed at Goodreads

Author Melanie Cusick-Jones surprised me with a full review of Book 1: Justice today. In it, she calls the book "a well written YA mystery - good pace and enough action to keep you reading."

Read the full review at Goodreads before you buy your copy of Justice at the Kindle Store!

Review: Seven Moments in Time

Todd Tystad's Seven Moments in Time is a sweet short story collection that I finished in a single reading. Each little vignette is exactly what the title promises it will be: a single moment. Every one of the 7 stories briefly illuminate the lives of a lovable cast of characters, each of whom is poignantly revealed and introduced before our moment with them is over.

Each tale left me wanting more, and at the end I ached for some solid conclusion. But my anger at Todd Tystad lasted only a moment when I realized that author's true brilliance: engaging me in each story. I found myself imagining the end of each tale, thinking about each character, wondering about each event that was described. That made Seven Moments feel personal, and even more real.

The formatting is beautiful and each story flows well, compelling me to read more and more and more. I was sad when I got to the end, and look forward to re-visiting this book in the future. I'll definitely read any more of Tystad's Moments if he chooses to release a second volume.

Writing 101: The Main Character

Every book is driven by at least one main character, a singular hero or heroine who propels the plot. Often, the main character has to face a challenge or foe, obstacles they must overcome in order to get to the happy (or tragic) ending. But if that character doesn't reach out and grab your audience, readers may not stick with your story all the way to its end. The main character is the driving force of your book, so make it great.


Who is this person? What motivates them? What are their hopes and dreams? If you don't know, your readers don't know. Readers want a character they can identify with, a three-dimensional character who has their own independent thoughts, wishes and yes, even problems. Identify and know the characteristics of your main characters, who they are as a person. Nervous habits, likes and dislikes, opinions -- these are the things that make a person real, and the same stuff makes characters real to readers.

No one is perfect, not even in books. If you want to craft a main character that others can believe in, you've got to give them flaws -- or at least one major flaw. Readers are all real people, and like real people they make mistakes and bad decisions. Your character should have some flaws, too, and shouldn't always do everything right. Some of the most lovable literary characters are very flawed, but people embrace them because they can relate.


What does your character look like? Tell your audience in detail what they might see if they look at your character. You want your main character to jump off the page, and that means giving them a physical appearance so readers can "see" them within their own minds. A character that your readers can envision is a real, relatable character that will jump off the page.

Physical flaws are important, too. Ask one hundred people if they dislike something about their appearance, and one hundred people will say yes. What doesn't your character like about his/her appearance? Perhaps they have pale skin, a cleft chin they hate, wide shoulders or 15 extra pounds hanging around their hips. Why would a reader, who has all the normal hang-ups that come with being human, read a story about a physically perfect human being? That's not relatable, and it's not very realistic unless there's a good reason for it (they're a vampire, they've had plastic surgery, etc.).

Character Writing

The key to writing a believable, relatable main character is in having a clear idea of who that character is. Make sure you know the person you're writing about, even if they're someone you've made up in your head. If the character feels real to you, it's more likely to feel real to your audience. A great main character can make any plot shine and stand out above all those other books out there.

New Ad Unveiled

The good folks at Book Bags and Cat Naps, one of my favorite book blogs, will be running a brand-new ad for Justice all week long!  BB&CN is full of reviews, excerpts and author interviews that help me figure out what to read next. Check it out on their site and tell me what you think.