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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The Life of a Book

"How would you like to live in a world where you would be judged just by your hair color?"

"I was always curious about the characters, history, events and everything else going on in the novel at all times."

Hope's Rebellion has been reviewed at It's a Book Life. Read the whole thing to find out what the reviewer didn't like about my newest book, and see if you agree! 

Get your copy of Hope's Rebellion at Amazon, Smashwords or B&N.

Writing 101: So What is Passive Voice?

Do you write in the passive voice? Do you know what that means? If you don't, that's okay. I still have trouble with distinguishing passive language myself. It's one of those ephermal writing characteristics that can, very subtly, alter the tone of your book. I'm not one of those writers who are against writing in the passive voice, because every author should strike their own tone when writing their own work. But I do feel that writers ought to know the difference between active and passive voice...because how can you decide if you don't understand both choices? 

We Were Writers

Now, I could get really technical with the forthcoming description of passive voice. In my research for this post, I've discovered that this is the most common approach. But when writing about something that's complicated, taking a highly technical approach isn't likely to help most people. So I'm going to do my best to put it in plain English. 

Writing 101: You're Your (Own Enemy)

It happens every single day without fail. I get on Facebook to link a post or put up a photo, and I see it: your. And every time I see it, the word is being used the wrong way. As an author, you should always be ever-aware of word possessiveness -- whether you're Tweeting or Facebooking or writing a novel (or writing an email to your own spouse). If I see you using your the wrong way, I'll never read any of your books. And I'm going to start a movement to get others to join me on this blanket ban. And I'm going to succeed...because I'm right. 


Don't get me wrong; I understand why it's confusing. Your isn't an easy word to know. It's possessive, but it doesn't have an apostrophe. That could blow anybody's mind. Then there's you're, spelled almost the same way and pronounced exactly the same. Neither of these words have anything to do with yore, but that word exists as well. I'm pointing it out because it sounds the same, and it's a fun word. 

But that's moot. The point is, you'd better use your the right way. Once you can, you won't use you're the wrong way, either. 

Movie Review: Petals on the Wind

In case you haven't noticed, I've been making a big deal about the Petals on the Wind adaptation for a few days now. Last night it finally aired. So how does this long-awaited movie match up to its book?

Not very well. In case you weren't enjoying my live Twitter session last night while the movie was on, I ought to warn you: I'm pretty angry about the adaptation. 

Faded Buttercups 

The movie begins 10 years after the events of Flowers in the Attic, which is already wrong. The book actually begins right where Flowers left off. Seriously, the reader misses a few hours (at best) of Cathy's life. Cathy is 15 when she leaves the attic.

This means that in the advanced timeline, Cathy is already 25. And in the movie, Paul Sheffield is dead. This is an insult to the fans, because Paul figures prominently in Cathy's adult life. She marries him, after all. As a girl just meeting Paul, Cathy sets out to seduce him almost immediately. She's already all messed up, and desperate to explore her femininity with someone who isn't related to her. So her relationship with Paul is very complex, and affects many other relationships. To cut him out is an injustice.

Writing 101: Your Origin Story

Is there a specific book or author who made you want to be a writer? For many who pursue this path, the answer is yes. Lots of authors today can tell you stories about their yesterdays, days filled with reading other people's words...until soon, those days became filled with writing their own. 

And my origin story, like this holiday weekend, begins with V. C. Andrews.

In the Beginning...

I was a bit of a precocious child. I was never much interested in children's books. And besides, I didn't have a whole lot of access to children's books anyway. When I was growing up, I was always the only kid around unless I was in school. Around any of my family members, I was the lone kid.

So it was perfectly natural for me to go off and do things by myself. What, was I going to hang around the adults? No way. And since being by yourself isn't always fun but reading is, I was a reader. 

That's how I discovered V.C. Andrews. It was Thanksgiving, and I was 9. Too early, I know, to read V.C. Andrews. Seriously, don't let your young kids read V.C. Andrews because they may turn out like me (and I'm terrible, quite). But I did read it, and it was Flowers in the Attic. And at the end of the first chapter, my mind was made up. 

I was going to be an author, too.

Petals on the Wind: Looking Ahead

In case you haven't heard, it's Petals on the Wind weekend here at the blog. So instead of indie news, this week it's all about POTW news. What can you expect from the adaptation that airs tomorrow night? 

Sex scenes. 

At least, that's what the trailer indicates. Of course there's more than sex in the film. The trailers and stills are very limited, but to me it looks as though Corinne's role has been somewhat extended for the Lifetime movie. I could be wrong, of course, but since the entire book is told from Cathy's perspective the reader sees very little of Corinne throughout. Contrarywise, Heather Graham is peppered throughout the trailers.

Future Books on Film: Petals on the Wind

Petals on the Wind was the first follow-up book to the massively successful Flowers in the Attic. And like its predecessor,  Petals was picked to become a big screen adaptation. It was meant to happen about 25 years ago. It finally will happen this weekend.

The Book

POTW picks up right where Flowers left off, with the three surviving Dolls on a bus headed south. They plan to go all the way to Florida.

They won't ever get there. Carrie is violently sick on the bus, and they're kicked (literally) to the curb. Also on the bus is Henrietta Beech, and though she can't talk she takes matters into her own capable hands.

Petals on the Wind Weekend

It's Petals on the Wind weekend here at Jade's blog! The movie premieres on Lifetime this Memorial Day, and we're going to celebrate with special blog posts all weekend long. But what good is a holiday weekend without freebies? 

Use the link above any time this weekend to get your free digital copy of Deck of Lies: The Full Deck. That's Books 1 through 4, the entire series. If you like Petals, you'll enjoy this tale of family deception. Can you uncover all the secrets?

Writing 101: Do You Have Trouble Opening Up, Too?

Ever wondered what's going on behind the scenes of my blog? Well, I'll tell you: it's a damn mess. I have like 40 half-written blog posts, and at least 6 of them are all about how I have trouble writing blog posts. Sort of like this one. It's another one of my attempts to explain this problem I have: when I write, it's difficult for me to open up. And since I am a writer, this is a fatal flaw. Have you got it, too? 

It Ain't Easy Being Green

Some time ago, I made a big deal about my New Year's resolution. The resolution was that I was going to get more personal with my blog posts, in the style of another blogger that I admire. This goal quickly deteriorated into several rambling blog posts, each worse than the next, which have never been published. You see, I have difficulty opening up about things -- particularly with anonymous strangers I don't actually know. And since I'm a writer, that's a really big problem. Writers have to open up and tap into their own feelings. Otherwise, the writing isn't going to be as good as it can be. 

So, what can we do about it? 

Sweet Justice

"This certainly turned out to be a great read."

"There are still a lot of lies to uncover...I am excited to find out more."

Justice (Deck of Lies #1) has been reviewed at Random Things in Action. Visit the blog to read the entire review, and then go get your copy of the book!

Writing 101: How to Use QR Codes

When you're an indie author, the ebook market is where you live. And if you're going to be a part of the digital market, you're going to have to stay well-versed in all the trends, gadgets and gimmicks that are being used in the mobile world. So if you don't already know how to use QR codes, now's the time to learn.

Quick Response

QR codes look like graphic representations of bar codes, and in a way they are similar. QR codes, Quick Response codes, can be read by cell phone and tablet cameras. They're used to take users instantly to a web page, so no one has to go to Google or type in a long web address.

Writing 101: Third-Party Marketing

As a self-published author, you have to be your own publicist. But you don't necessarily have to do all the marketing yourself. There are ways to encourage others to do your marketing for you

Marketing, Pass it On 

It's more possible than it sounds, and there are no loaded guns or weird ransom notes required. In fact, you still have to do most of the work (which is always going to be the case).

Writing 101: Are You Being Bullied...or Criticized?

Critical feedback is essential for each and every single author, and sometimes truth is harsh. On the other hand, criticism can cross the line. With one wrong word or turn of phrase, it turns into bullying. So when you read those scathing reviews and biting comments, you have to make a decision: are you being bullied...or criticized?

Indie Authors and Bullying

This is a touchy subject, and I'll do my best to tread lightly. There's been a recent outcry regarding indie authors and bullying, and it's gained so much momentum that non-indie authors are sounding off on the subject. But to call every single negative review or harsh remark a form of bullying is incorrect, because they simply are not. If we start to scream "bully" about everything, then that word begins to lose its power and then we've all got problems. 

So it's your job to learn how to differentiate between bullying and ordinary criticism that's just hard to deal with. In matters such as these, I find that it's best to take an analytical approach. 

Books on Film: The Princess Diaries

"The Princess Diaries" is one of those ever-popular Disney movies everyone has seen. It introduced movie star Anne Hathaway to the world, reminded us that Julie Andrews is amazing and spawned a sequel. But before all that, it was the beginning of a 10-book series.

The Book

Meg Cabot's story revolves around Mia Thermopolis, ninth grader. She lives in Greenwich Village in New York with her single mom, a free-spirited artist. Mia has a crush on senior Josh, and she's pretty normal.

Until her dad comes to town to drop a bombshell: he's secretly a prince. Mia is his only child, and the new crown princess of a little country called Genovia. 

So she isn't so normal after all. Mia's life becomes even more complicated. Paparazzi show up at school, her mom is dating Mia's Algebra teacher, and she has a big fight with BFF Lily. As if that isn't bad enough, she has to take "princess lessons" with her grandmother (the queen).

Will Mia learn to be a princess, make up with Lily and survive her grandmother? You'll find out if you read the book. 

The Film

"The Princess Diaries" became a movie in 2001, just one year after the book was published. Hathaway stars as awkward Mia, who is "invisible" at her school. There is no dad in  this version, just Andrews as the grandmother.

Problems and princess lessons soon commence. Anne Hathaway is adorable as Mia, particularly after a makeover. By the end of the movie, its clear that everything will be okay. But by the end of the movie, you may be confused about whether or not it's an adaptation of the book.

What Got Adapted?

A lot of  changes were made to turn "The Princess Diaries" into a book. Almost none of the characters look the same, not the least of which is Princess Mia herself. She has dirty blonde hair in the book and a flat chest. She also doesn't become gorgeous overnight.

The grandmother's personality is much softer on film. In the book she's a tough lady who does not act very Queenly. Also changed: Mia's father is alive in the book. They killed him to make the movie. Mia's mom is more of a mom on film. In the book she's a complete flake. BFF Lily is the same, but her brother Michael is much less nerdy on film. The bodyguard, who is Lars in the book, becomes Joe on film and has an extended role. In the movie, he's in love with the grandmother.

Some of Mia's school friends, other awkward kids, are omitted entirely from the movie. Plot points are altered to fit these different circumstances, but much of the flavor of the book (and Mia's personality) remain intact.

You'll have to read and watch both to see these different stories, and if you love the book you can go on to enjoy Mia's other 9 adventures.

Writing 101: Letting Go

Sometimes when I'm writing, I'll fall into an alternate reality where I know just what to say. There are times when I know I'm not even telling the story; the story is letting me tell it. But those stories always end up being the very hardest to shake. Are you having trouble with letting go of a book that you already finished?

Easy Come...

Some books speak really strongly to authors..and don't stop speaking. You'll continue thinking about the characters, even after you're supposed to be working on another project. And no matter how hard you try, you just can't devote yourself to that new project. How can you? The old one is still captivating all your attention. 

Letting go is one of the hardest parts of being an author, and this will manifest itself in a variety of ways. I'm pretty sure I've experienced all of them.

Writing 101: Public Domain (Copyrights Don't Last For Ever)

So, I ran out of TV shows on Netflix and found myself watching "Just One of the Guys" the other day. It's a gender-swapping story featuring an actress named Joyce Hyser in the lead. I've also seen the same movie starring Amanda Bynes, Cameron Diaz and countless others. Some plots are repeated, and re-repeated, a hundred times or more. Have you ever wondered why? It's because copyrights expire. 

Much Ado About Plagiarism 

Seriously, the story of the girl who dresses like a boy and falls in love with this new boy she meets is as old as time. Well, that's not precisely true -- but it is as old as the Elizabethan era. I know that because Shakespeare is the one who wrote that story. He called it "Twelfth Night." 

Writing 101: Autobiography

Do you have to be famous to write an autobiography? How old do you have to be to write an autobiography? What actually makes a book an autobiography? Let's get the answers.

A Song of Myself

An autobiography is a very specific type of book, and must meet certain criteria before the name applies. A book is an autobiography when, and only when, it is a life story written by the person who lived that life. If I write a book about Jade Varden's life, it's an autobiography because I'm her. But if I write a book about Harry Truman's life, it's called a biography because I'm not him. 

On biographies, they're a bear to write. You have to get the person's permission (otherwise you have to bill the book as an "unauthorized" biography, and you have to make darn sure that every single fact is absolutely accurate). 

And all you have to do to write an autobiography is simply to be you. Authors have written them while very young and very old, so there's no limit on when or how you ought to do it. If your life story is fascinating and you want to write it, write it. But remember that you can only write about autobiography if it's about yourself...for the most part.

More and more writers are also writing fictitious autobiographies. You can write one about one of your characters, for example, or even a legendary character from folklore. Fictitious autobiographies are a little looser, rule-wise, and they're starting to become more popular. They could be the next "in" genre, so now's the time to start learning a little more about autobiographies.

Writing 101: Continuity

I remember very distinctly editing one of my very early manuscripts, only the second or third one I'd ever written. I sent the main character off in one scene, and this was a fantasy book so she was really gone and unreachable at that point. Then I noticed that I had her sitting with someone else just a few scenes later, because I had messed it up. Continuity is so important, you have to edit your book just for that at least once -- and stop getting bogged down in the minutia of looking for out-of-place commas. 

For Every Action...

Continuity is one of the most important elements of any book, and too often I see it ignored. There are many ways in which you can screw up continuity, and I know because I've made most of these mistakes myself: 

  • Injury: Authors injure their main characters all the time. We've all been hurt and had accidents, so we can identify. It's also a good way to make the character vulnerable. Drawing sympathy can make a character seem more likable. But if you injure your character in a scene, that character has to stay injured. If it's a break, they'll be injured for weeks. Sprains heal quicker. Look up the injuries you're giving them, know what that's all about, and make sure your time line is correct. Don't give someone a broken foot and have them dancing in a ballroom the very next weekend. 
  • Pregnancy: People get pregnant, and so do characters in books. Please remember that they're pregnant. I've read books where a character got pregnant, carried on totally normally for 7 chapters and suddenly an infant appears. Yeah, like I'm going to believe that. I want symptoms, I want big bellies, I want to see that character curtail their normal activities and start eating all the time because that's what happens. 
  • Hatred: If two characters have a falling out on page 56, I'm going to be terribly confused if they suddenly have a pleasant conversation on page 61. Make sure you keep track of relationships and feelings. If one character does something awful to another, I expect there to be some animosity. Relationships are fluid, and they change. Your story must reflect those changes. 
  • Appearance: People change their appearance all the time, or something happens and life changes it for them. If your character cuts her hair, receives a deep wound that leaves a scar or loses a bunch of weight you've got to continue to reflect and address these changes through the story. If I know she's cut off all her hair and 20 pages later she's wearing a ponytail, I'm confused. 

I get tangled up in logistics like the above all the time...so that means you have to edit all your stories very carefully for nit-pickers like me. Make sure your stories have continuity. Keep track of your own changes, because your readers certainly will.

Books on Film: Jurassic Park

Haven't we all been fascinated by dinosaurs, at one time or another? I remember that, as a child, I was always very concerned about what happened to them. It caused me great distress that scientists couldn't figure it out exactly. And I remember the very first time I saw Jurassic Park on the big screen. You wouldn't think that reading a book about dinosaurs would be as satisfying as watching them up there, but you'd be wrong.

The Book

Jurassic Park was a bestseller n 1990, and so popular it became Michael Crichton's signature book. For an author with a career like his, that's really saying something. The story was always destined to become a movie. Crichton originally envisioned it as a screenplay about graduate students who recreate dinosaurs.

As the project developed, Crichton tweaked this original idea. As it stands now, the story opens in 1989 after a series of strange attacks on Isla Nublar in Costa Rica. In a different part of the world, billionaire John Hammond has paleontologist Alan Grant and his graduate student Ellie Sattler collected so they can be brought to Costa Rica.

When they arrive, they're introduced to Jurassic Park. It's a theme park that's filled with dinosaurs. Actual dinosaurs. They've been cloned from ancient DNA found inside gnats and ticks that were fossilized in pieces of amber. Missing DNA has been filled in by reptiles and birds available in today's modern era. Considering the impossibility of the plot to begin with, this explanation seems like it could be somehow plausible so props to Michael Crichton for that.

Hammond glowingly shows off his state-of-the-art facilities to his guests. He's thought of everything, like engineering all the dinosaurs to be female so they can't reproduce. The two scientists aren't alone on the tour. They're joined by mathematician Ian Malcolm and lawyer Donald Gennaro, who represents the investors. Malcolm particularly thinks the park is a terrible idea, bound for doom.

To round off the tour group, Hammond has invited his grandchildren. This is Tim and Lex Murphy. While this is all happening, there's someone on the inside with an agenda of his own. It's Dennis Nedry, and he's secretly working for a rival genetics firm. Nedry shuts down the computer security systems to steal embryos, which he attempts to sneak out of the park. 

But he did shut off the security systems, and by the way there's a tropical storm brewing. So Nedry is killed by a Dilophosaurus, the tour guests get attacked by a T-Rex and all hell breaks loose. Grant gets lost in the park with the kids, Malcolm is badly hurt and all the redshirts die in the background.

Things get really gory after that. Surprisingly, a lot of the blood was actually toned down for the big screen...but the film is still pretty epic.

The Movie

Jurassic Park hit the big screen in 1993, and everybody went to go see it. The ensemble cast is amazing, the effects were the absolute best of their day and it had Steven Spielberg pointing the cameras so the flick was bound for greatness from the word go. The marketing campaign alone cost a whopping $65 million.

The movie features the same main cast and premise as the book, though some things about the characters were changed for the film version. On film, the dinosaurs are terrifying. The tropical scenery is lush. And the music is practically enough movie all by itself. Jurassic Park earned more than $900 million the first time it was released to theaters and won three Oscars. 

It was a pioneer in visual effects, as both animatronics and computer-generated images were used to create the film. The movie spawned two sequels (the book had only one), and a fourth Jurassic Park is scheduled for release in 2015.

What Got Adapted? 

While major plot points are the same, lots of other stuff was changed to bring Jurassic Park to the big screen. Some of the changes are glaring. Many of the dinosaurs in the film actually didn't even exist during the Jurassic period. The majority of the species you'll see weren't around until the Cretaceous period. The Brachiosaurus and Dilophosaurus are the only two species who were around for the Jurassic period. 

Part of the ending of the story was re-written to feature the T-Rex, whom Spielberg considered to be the star of the movie. The animatronic T-Rex was 20 feet high and a true work of art. The scene where the beast chases the Jeep took about two months to finish.

In the book, Tim is the older child and Lex his younger sister. On film their ages are reversed. According to urban legend, it's because Spielberg was very keen on the child actor who played Tim and wanted him for the role. In the book, he's also the computer whiz and not Lex.

Dr. Alan Grant is not Ellie's love interest in the book, but her teacher. They are not romantic. In the book, the park is already finished. On film, it's not finished and not yet ready to open. Crichton himself has said that the movies are much different from the books. So to get another version of the story, read the original Jurassic Park before you watch the movie for the 50th time.

Writing 101: What #AmazonCart Can Do for Indies

If you're an Amazon customer (and I suspect that you are), you've probably already been spammed with emails regarding the new #AmazonCart hashtag. But if you're like me, you erased those emails. I don't read spam emails, but I do research things that interest me. And if you're an indie author, like me, #AmazonCart should interest you, too.

Not Another Hashtag

In a new partnership with Twitter, Amazon has unveiled yet another way to sell their products: #AmazonCart. If Amazon tweets a link to one of their products, you can simply reply to it with #AmazonCart. Through the magic of the Internet, that item will be added to your Amazon account. But here's the beauty of it: you can reply to anyone who posts a link to anything on Amazon. Yes...including indie books. You don't even have to click a link, just hit reply and you're shopping without leaving Twitter.

Writing 101: Unresolved Subplots

If there's anything that will put me off a novel or book series, it's loose ends. I want every question to be answered, and where appropriate I'd really like to learn the ultimate fate of every single character, ideally. And that's why I don't truck with stories that contain unresolved subplots. Here's why it ought to matter to you: I'm not the only reader who feels this way. 

But What About the Dog? 

Subplots are used to add meat to the main story. They're around to provide excitement, or perhaps mystery, maybe even romance. In the best stories, I find, the subplots are intricately woven around the main plot and all the threads interconnect somehow. When subplots are just hanging out there for no reason, I always feel a bit like my time is being wasted so I appreciate it when everything ties together.

Writing 101: Are You Too Hard on Yourself?

As an indie author, you're in charge. You decide what to publish, when to publish, how the cover will look and how the promotion will go. You're the boss...but you're also your own employee. And every once in a while you need to stop and ask yourself if you're being way too hard on yourself. As an indie author, it's really easy to become your own worst enemy. 

Evil Twin

I'm not a good boss. I know, because I make my only employee work 10 hour days and 7 days a week. She doesn't get holidays off. In fact, she hardly gets any days off -- one a month, so far, in 2014. She has to eat while working and generally only gets negative feedback from me, the boss. My only employee is myself, and I have a habit of being way too hard on myself.

Writing 101: Being Funny

Everybody likes laugh, and that's why writers who can be funny can also do very well. So now it's time to ask yourself: what do you know about being funny? 

So Why Don't You?

Being able to tell a joke well doesn't necessarily make you funny, but it sure as heck doesn't hurt. So if you can tell a joke and other people laugh, then you've got a shot at being funny in your books. You don't have to be a stand-up comedian to be capable of writing a book -- or at least, a book with some funny stuff in it. But you do have to know what it takes to be funny, because some of the same qualities that make comedians good can be translated onto the page.