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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Writing 101: 15 Different Ways to Say 'Green'

I could tell you that the parched ground was swept clean of leafy hues under the enkindled sunlight. But it would be a lot simpler if I simply said there was no visible green on the desert ground under the burning sun. Wouldn't it? Here's my point: there are at least 15 different ways to say green. But why not just use the word green

She Fell in Love with a Thesaurus

The messages that writers get are confusing. We're told that our words need to be descriptive and compelling. That our stories must captivate and entertain, evoke emotions and leave a deep impact. It's easy to read into the advice, and assume that it's always better to choose more complicated words. Why say that Jerry laughed, when you can say he chortled? I'm actually about to tell you why, and it comes down to this basic advice: when it's green, just say green. 

Surprised by Hope's

"I absolutely loved the story...I definitely didn’t see the ending coming!"

"The plot twists, interesting characters and easy-to-read prose makes this novel a perfect read for a nice afternoon or evening off."

Hope's Rebellion has been reviewed at Me Love Books. Check out the full review to find out why the reviewer almost didn't read it at all (and how happy they are they did anyway, of course). 

Writing 101: Public Exposure

The days of Jane Austen and Louisa Mae Alcott are over. No longer do authors sit in romantic little rooms, cut off from the rest of the world. Now, authors need to be in the public eye. Indie authors have to be public figures. They have to be exposed. And when you're exposed, you are a target. Are you really ready for that?

In the Line of Fire

I've blogged a lot about marketing and promoting books. I've written about Twitter and blogging and being on forums and all the other stuff that indie authors have to do. What I have failed to mention is the consequences of all this public exposure. I have failed to mention that you are making yourself a target.

Now, it's time to take a look at the dark side of your marketing.

Writing 101: The Epiphany

It is not uncommon for literary characters to make mistakes. Sometimes, they will even commit some wrong. But the worst characters can be redeemed, or gain sudden insight, with a simple literary technique: the epiphany. 

Come to Jesus

The epiphany, also known as the come-to-Jesus moment, gives your character sudden clarity. They realize something they did not before, and in this fashion find redemption or otherwise advance their plot. The epiphany is used a lot in literature. It happens a lot less frequently in reality.

My Quest to Be More Like Virginia Woolf

I'm going to be honest here: I don't know that much about Virginia Woolf. She was a writer, and she came to a rather poor end after penning many well-loved books. For my purposes, that's not important. My recent quest to be more like Virginia Woolf isn't about her books. It's about how she wrote them.

Will the Real Jade Varden Please Stand Up

Legend says that Virginia Woolf actually wrote standing up. This is a contrast to Truman Capote, who purportedly wrote lying down. Woolf had a competitive relationship with her sister, an artist. In a stunning bit of sibling rivalry, Virginia Woolf chose to write while standing so her sister could not say writing was an easier job than being an artist. I don't have a sister, but I think the idea of standing up is absolute perfection. 

Writing 101: The 5 Character Names All Writers Should Avoid

In fiction, certain names have associations that you just can't shake. No YA author can include a "Bella" in their book, for example, and if you throw a "Romeo" out there it's just going to be a distraction. Some names have a deeper meaning and a preexisting link to another literary project. That's why you should avoid those names altogether.

Betty and Veronica 

There are many, many names that are probably a bad idea when it comes to writing fiction. After all, Dagmar is a name. But when it comes to naming characters, be sure to avoid these 5: 

Writing 101: Hybrid Authors

Not all authors choose one side or the other, you know. Some keep one foot firmly planted in the old, established world of traditional publishing, and the other foot floating on the cloud of digital age technology and ebook publishing. Some authors are not just one thing, but two. These are the hybrid authors, and they are suddenly everywhere.

Classic By Day, Modern By Night

Hybrid authors are the "in" thing right now in the literary world. These are authors who digitally self-publish ebooks, but still traditionally publish paper books. Some authors do this by keeping entire pen names separate. Others may write certain books intended for self-publishing. And still others hang on tenaciously to the digital rights for all their books, selling off the rights piecemeal to traditional publishers while holding onto the rest. No matter what type, hybrid authors are out there. Should you be one of them?

Writing 101: It Doesn't Get Easier

Authors are artists who paint with words instead of colors. And artists, by nature, are sensitive types. When you first start publishing, you're going to feel a lot of self-doubt. You'll be wounded by negative reviews. You'll be hurt by rejection. You'll agonize over decisions, and question your books and your writing skills again and again. But here's what you have to know about it: being an author doesn't get any easier. 

They're All Going To Laugh At You

What if they don't like it? What if everyone says it's terrible? What if you had written something else, instead? These questions will go through your mind when you write books, because this goes through every author's mind. But it doesn't matter how many books you publish. Questions like this will always go through your mind. 

Writing 101: Life Experience

Have you ever been really, really, really hungry? Have you ever stayed awake for 48 hours in a row? Did you break a bone? Did you fall in love...or fall out of it? Well, why don't you write it?

Life Experience

When you're a writer, you're going to hear the phrase life experience a lot. But you don't have to go to Italy or kill a guy in order to get life experience. Everything you've ever been through, no matter how seemingly mundane it is, can help you write a book. If you've felt hunger, if you've worked out until your muscles ached, if you've smelled the perfumed scent of a cigar -- all of it, any of it, can lend rich details to your book. And the other stuff that you haven't done? Well...you can use research for that. 

Writing 101: Pre-Orders, Will They Work with Self-Publishing?

Pre-orders work for big-name titles like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games, but what about for you? If you do a long pre-order, won't all your fans end up owning your book before the actual publish date? What would you do then?

Selling, Before You Start Selling

Smashwords and Amazon, which are both very indie-friendly sites, both offer pre-order options that allow customers to pay for the book even before it's published. According to market research, books that are available through the pre-order option tend to sell more copies overall than the books that do not. And you need to know that, because the numbers also show that most indie authors don't use it. Why?

Writing 101: You and I

When you and I talk about grammar, it confuses things for you and me. When do you use which, and how do you tell the difference?

Me and I

In order to know when to use I and when to choose me instead, you've got to know the difference between the two. They're both pronouns, but they're different types of pronouns. You see, I is a subject pronoun. Me is an object pronoun. So...what the heck does that mean?

Writing101: Always Be Writing?

I'm not shy about the fact that I go on the prowl for writing tips. You're never done learning. But sometimes, the tips I find completely baffle me. The ones see most often is just perfect for a bumper sticker: always be writing. But as someone who actually always is writing, I've got to say it: this is a bad tip. 

...Because You'd Die

This is yet another of those post where I'm going to tell you to do the exact opposite of what I do. I am a cautionary tale. Because I'm so always writing, I had to compose this blog post on two different devices. I literally can't move about my own home without writing something. Always be writing is nice and trite when you're writing something for Twitter, but as someone who has put this insane notion into practice I can assure you, it's terrible.

Writing 101: Answering Questions About Your Book

Can you tell me about your book in 10 words or less? If you can't, figure out how to do it right now. Because people are going to ask you questions about your books. When they do, your answers need to be short and to the point. Otherwise, the person asking will lose interest...and they definitely won't read the book, then. 

10 Words or Less

A story of deception, murder and self-discovery.

A world where life is already mapped out for you.

What happens when a world of lies comes crashing down?

Each one of those lines describes one of my books, and they do it in 10 words or less. If you feel any interest or curiosity at all about those lines, I've done my job. If someone asked me what is your book about, I could answer with one of these lines and call it day. And that's exactly what I would do. Save the much longer answer for the blurb. The shorter answers you get to use everywhere else.

Writing 101: Consistent Perspective

It doesn't matter which perspective you choose to write from. You're the author, so you can choose to give the readers any viewpoint you want. But whatever you choose, you do have to choose. Keep your perspective consistent, no matter what you do.


I made one of my usual epically bad movie choices, just over the weekend. I thought it was going to be good because it looked romantic and it had an actress that I admire, but that's beside the point. The point is that the movie committed to a specific perspective from the first, and stuck with it through three-fourths of the film. There was a dedicated narrator, and everything. So imagine my shock and confusion when the perspective shifted, for just one scene, to someone else entirely. That's called uneven storytelling, and that's not the sort of thing I want to find in books. 

Dropped My Balls

At the outset of the week, I was fully prepared to add new writing tips to the blog. I was going to get back to tweeting regularly after my vacation lapse. I was even going to get back on track with my newest novel. I was going to do all kinds of stuff. But then, I dropped my balls. 

It's a danger all indie authors face. Sometimes, we just keep too many of them up in the air. 

Wish You Were Here...

So there will be no new tips this week, and I can't even make any promises about next week. I'm going to do my best to pick my balls back up and get them back up in the air. I hope to get back to juggling them successfully. But I'm an indie author. 

So, really, I have no idea what next week is going to bring.