Justice (Deck of Lies, #1)

Get it everywhere online books are sold!

The Tower (Deck of Lies, #2)

Visit the Books page for free samples

Death (Deck of Lies, #3)

Get book downloads on the Free Stuff page

Judgment (Deck of Lies, #4)

Get the boxed set edition to get even more secrets!

Hope's Rebellion

Get it now!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Writing 101: Creating Lore

One of the most difficult things for any author to do is create lore, and no I’m not talking about Data’s evil brother (Star Trek shoutout). When you introduce fantasy creatures and certain other elements into your story, there are some questions you’re going to have to answer -- preferably, before you even begin writing the story.

Your Own Private Mythology

Lore is one of those things that’s always evolving. J.K. Rowling included mermaids in her books, Stephenie Meyer found something brand-new to add to vampires and authors everywhere are inventing their own lore right this very moment. If you’re also going to invent your lore, there are some things to keep in mind when you’re doing it.

Writing 101: The Unseen Character

Most characters in your book exist somewhere in the world you’ve created. They interact with other characters, they move things around, they’re in the pages. But you can create another type of character who lives somewhere off the page: the unseen character. Though you don’t lay eyes upon them, they can be very effective in all sorts of different ways.

The Invisible

The unseen character always does things in the background, behind the scenes, and your readers only find out about them third hand. This can be incredibly useful and help you, as a writer, get all sorts of things done. How can you use an unseen character? A few options immediately come to mind.

The One Who Failed at Self-Publishing

Even if you haven't read "Walden Pond," you've probably heard of Henry David Thoreau. He's well-known for going out into nature and writing about it, doing firsthand research to create his very famous book. What you may not know is that he self-published a book, and didn't do well with it at all.

Unsuccessful at Self-Publishing

Henry David Thoreau published two full-length books, but no one much cared. Neither book sold well, and that includes "Walden Pond," even though Thoreau gained some notoriety as an essayist. His sales were so bad, in fact, that he had to self-published his third novel himself.

Get Death and the Deep September 30

Saltwater Secrets, Book 2: Death and the Deep will be available for purchase September 30! You’ll find it at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and Kobo.

Death and the Deep

I came back to the land because I thought it would be safe. I didn’t know the waves would keep calling me, even weeks after I decided to leave them for ever.

That’s the problem with the ocean. The things we leave behind in the waves have a way of washing back up to the shore. Everything I left in the water is still out there…and I can hear it calling for me, no matter how hard I try to block the sound of the waves.

There is death waiting for me in the deep. Even when I try my best to stay on the land, the ocean won’t stop trying to claim me as one of its own. I’m afraid that soon, it’s going to succeed.

Writing 101 Redux: Writing with Bad Habits

You may be guilty of bad writing habits and not even know it...so how can you fix it? 

Read today's Throwback Thursday Writing 101 tip, and see if you've been writing with bad habits.

Writing 101: Trusting Yourself

I've been using the same beta reader for awhile now, but lately my reader hasn't been available for my newest book. I stopped freaking out about that around the same time I learned a valuable lesson about writing. Beta readers and reviewers are great, but as an author you should always be trusting yourself...and so should I.

The Issue of Trust

It's good to have beta readers, to get a second opinion, to check your work against someone else so you know you're on the right track. But you can't always rely on these things. The actor writing a novel is always a risk. It's a leap. You're putting something out there that's personal to you, and the world may rip it to shreds. You'll get a little less bloody if a beta reader rips into you first. But you don't always get that option. That's why you always have to make sure you're trusting yourself...and your book.

Writing 101: Always Be a Critic

I haven’t made a lot of time for reading lately, something people are always surprised to find out about me when they also know that I’m a writer. But no matter how much I don’t read, I’m exposed to storytelling every single day -- both good and bad. And I’m a huge critic of all the stories I come into contact with. This is a post about why you should be like me, too.

Picking it Apart

Storytelling is everywhere, from movies to TV shows to songs to commercials. You’ll see short stories, long stories, dramatic stories -- every kind of story is available at all times, and you can probably get to it from your cell phone. And when you encounter any story, you should be criticizing it. This will help you to become a better storyteller. Seriously, it will. I’m not saying that because I like being judgmental.

It’s Okay to Be Unfaithful...to Your Genre

Some authors become so famous for writing books in a certain genre, they get stuck in it. You’ll always think of Stephen King as a horror author, and we all know that Agatha Christie was the Queen of mystery. But it’s okay to be unfaithful to your genre. Shel Silverstein, one of the most famous kids’ authors of all time, was completely unfaithful -- wickedly so.

At some point, someone probably read to you from Shel Silverstein's "The Giving Tree," one of the most well-known children's stories of all time. His poems and drawings have delighted generations of children. But Shel Silverstein had another job you probably didn't know about: Playboy.

Guest Post Excerpt: The Secrets of Yashire

 Today, Jade's blog has been taken over by author Diamante Lavendar. Read an excerpt from her new book "The Secrets of Yashire: Emerging from the Shadows."

 The Secrets of Yashire: Emerging from the Shadows

Opening her eyes, Brianna gazed into a clear blue sky illuminated by warm, hazy rays of sunlight. She slowly turned her head to look around. She was lying on a carpet of soft, green grass. All around her she heard the sweet, cheerful songs of birds as a playful breeze rumpled her long black hair. Where am I? She tried to raise her head but a hot, sharp pain shot through it.

Ow! I have one heck of a headache!

Gently, she lay her head back down. As she stretched into a more comfortable position, she noticed the clothes she was wearing; a white, ruffled blouse and a long, purple skirt. She was vaguely confused but couldn’t figure out why. Suddenly a strong urge to sleep overcame her.

Closing her eyes, she listened to the birds and felt the warm sun soaking into her skin. The soft breeze caressed her cheeks and pressed the tendrils of her hair against her forehead. Gently, she was lulled back to sleep.

Brianna was awakened by a swishing sound nearby.

What was that?

Song of the Sea: Map Brenna’s Journey

Want to follow Brenna as she searches for her mother in “Song of the Sea,” Book 1 of the Saltwater Secrets trilogy? You can use my own map.

For the very first time, I’m releasing one of the maps I actually used to map out my book. You can see every step of Brenna’s adventure across the water and the land, exactly the way I mapped it myself! Follow along with Brenna while you read “Song of the Sea.” Book 2 in the Saltwater Secrets trilogy is coming out later this month!

Writing 101 Redux: It's Not Easy to Know Your Its

Sure, you know how to use apostrophes. But the rules change when it comes to its and it's. You know, it's really easy to get your its mixed up. 

Learn how to tell them apart with today's Throwback Writing 101 tip, and become a master of using it's and its.

Writing 101: The Love Interest

I’ve written about a lot of different types of characters at this blog. The main character, the flawed character, the three-dimensional character, the villain, good guys and bad guys. But there’s a type of character you’ll find in a majority of stories that I haven’t covered: the love interest. Do you know how to make yours interesting?

What’s Love Got to Do With It?

All of the greatest authors through the pages of history have written of love. You can even find love stories in the Bible, the best-selling book ever written. People expect to find it in stories, even stories that aren’t in the romance genre, and that means every author has to struggle with the same problem. How do you make a love interest interesting to the reader?

Writing 101: Lying to the Readers

Whether you call it stretching the truth or creative promotion, lying to the readers isn’t a good idea -- even if it’s all done in the name of embellishment. Find out why it’ll never work to fudge on your credentials, make more out of your achievements or just downright fib about your books.

There Are No White Lies

Sure, it sounds more impressive to say that your book is a bestseller, or that you have a degree in this or that, or maybe that you have all five-star reviews. But if those things aren’t really, really true, it’s better not to say them at all. Even if you’re just fudging a little or exaggerating a lot, there’s one thing you can never lie to get: credibility. You don’t want to lose that, trust me. 

The Lying Author

You could make an argument that all fiction authors are really professional liars who spin wild stories out of thin air...but they are honest about one thing: the fact that they’re lying. But there are other authors, those who claim to write non-fiction stories that actually aren’t. This is the story of a lying author who spun a wild tale -- and couldn’t live with what he did. This is a story about integrity, and the writers who don’t have it.

Not-So-Sweet Little Lies

Chief Buffalo Child Long Lance was born Sylvester Clark Long before he changed his name. He used his changed name to publish his autobiography, "Redman Echoes," in 1928. An adventurous tale of a young boy who was the son of a Blackfoot Native American Chief, the story was thrilling. It was also a huge hit. Almost overnight, Chief Buffalo Child became a celebrity and his book became a must-read. Literary critics, anthropologists and fans heaped praise upon him. Soon, the Chief was being invited to fancy New York parties and traveling the country to speak about Native American causes. He even endorsed a shoe. The man was a rock star of the literary world. There was just one problem: he was a huge liar.

Saltwater Secrets: Take a Virtual Tour of Brenna’s Island

If you’ve read “Song of the Sea,” you know that a lot of my “Saltwater Secrets” trilogy takes place in Matinicus, Maine. Virtually explore Brenna’s town to get a closer look at this small island that’s so full of secrets. When “Death and the Deep” comes out this month, you’ll discover more about the darkness hiding on the shores of Matinicus.

 The official post office

 Some of the native plant life

 The waves that surround the island will haunt Brenna in "Death and the Deep"

 There are many houses along the coast on the island, just like the one Brenna lives in

New secrets will wash up on the shores of the island in "Death and the Deep" 

Writing 101 Redux: The Epilogue, Good or Evil?

It's an epic debate, and the lines have been drawn. Where do you stand in the epilogue argument

Before you make up your mind, read this Throwback Thursday Writing 101 and then decide!

Writing 101: Being Afraid

Are you afraid of your own writing? If you’ve ever stared too long at a blank page, or re-read the same paragraph four times because you just weren’t sure about it, or put off finishing that chapter for another day, you may be spending too much of your time being afraid. Lots of writers all secretly have the same fear, but I’m about to expose it once and for all: bad writing. Have you found yourself being afraid of writing badly, too? 


Fear of long words is a real phobia, but fear of writing is something that possibly strikes only authors. Writing a book encourages you to second-guess every sentence you put down. Bloggers like me get on the Internet and scream about editing, editing, editing. You get told to choose just the right words and avoid the wrong ones, to double-check dialogue and keep your narrative voice strong. And when you’ve got to think about all that, it’s absolutely natural to start being afraid of just totally writing the wrong thing.

Writing 101: Love to Hate?

Many books are written with a hero, or protagonist, and a villain, an antagonist. But somewhere in the middle, there is a special kind of character: the one you love to hate. Now, try writing it.

Same Coin

In the comic book world, lines are clearly drawn between good guys and bad guys. Both types of guys are powerful, and you can easily tell which one you’re supposed to be rooting for. But even in the comic book world of clear distinctions, there are characters that you almost start rooting for -- even though they really want to kill the hero of the story. Catwoman is supposed to be a villain, but it’s so easy to hope that things will work out for her anyway. This is a villain you love to hate, or hate to hate. They say that hate and love are two sides of the same coin. So how do you write about them both at once?

The Late Bestseller, and a Whale of a Tough Writing Life

Even if you weren't forced to read it in school like most people, you've heard of "Moby Dick." It's one of the most famous stories ever written. And when it was published, it completely tanked. Author Herman Melville was so disillusioned with his novel, he wrote a whole new novel about how bad he felt about it.

Thar She Blows

How bad did "Moby Dick" do in 1851 when it was published? It didn't even sell the entire first printing order...which was only 3,000 books. That's not many copies for a book that's passed out in schools every single year. Herman Melville was bitterly disappointed by this failure. In fact, he wrote mostly poetry and short stories after his novel about the whale, because he was so sad that so few people purchased it.

Saltwater Secrets: Everything You Need to Know

Death and the Deep, Book 2 of the Saltwater Secrets trilogy, is coming out this month! Not current on the trilogy? No worries -- you can find out what you need to know right here, before you get started on the new book.

Catching Up

Death and the Deep occurs just weeks after the end of Song of the Sea, the first installment in the Saltwater Secrets trilogy. Before you get started on the second part of the story, make sure you’re all caught up from the first. Read ahead at will -- there are no major spoilers here!

Writing 101 Redux: Hey, Don't Double-Space

Do you double space? Read today's Throwback Thursday Writing 101 to find out why that's wrong...very, very wrong.

If you double-space your books, maybe this Writing 101 tip will change your mind (and your spacing).

Writing 101: Edit Every Sentence

There’s a scene in an old movie I love, where a very pessimistic Billy Crystal is explaining his reading habits to Meg Ryan. He always reads the end of a book first. Readers might do anything, and you don’t know what it is. I used to open books to a page near the middle and see if I liked what I saw, back when books were made with paper (so long ago). That’s why as an author, you’ve got to edit every sentence. Because no matter which one your reader looks at, you need it to be good...otherwise, maybe it’s the only one they’ll look at. 

Line By Line

If editing every sentence sounds like a truly tedious chore, that’s because it is. But if you’re going to do a thorough job of editing your book, you’re going to have to read every single word more than once anyway.

Writing 101: When Writing is a Job

Someone asked me, the other day, if I have any hobbies. I was surprised when I didn’t have a ready answer. A few years ago, I would have said “writing,” of course. But now, writing is my job. And when anything becomes a job, it’s easy to lose passion for that thing. 

Losing My Religion

Everyone’s passionate about their hobbies. It’s what they do in their free time, what they want to do once all the chores and working is done. So when you write for a living and write for a hobby, it’s easy to start feeling as though you work all the time. That really just leaves one question: how do you fix it?

The Author You Won’t Read About

Every Monday, I write about a different famous author. I like to dredge up some little-known information about them, expose their flaws, dig around in their secrets -- or maybe just talk about how they died. But there’s one author I’m never going to write about, and I’m about to tell you why.


I’ve written about authors that no one read until after their deaths, authors who were anonymous until they kicked the bucket, authors who died broke and even authors who killed themselves. There’s one author you’ll never see me write about: the one who gave up.

Death and the Deep: Official Trailer

It's not live to the general public, but it is available to you! Get a look at the official trailer for "Death and the Deep," Book 2 of the Saltwater Secrets Trilogy.

Get a free sample of the Death and Deep now, even before it's available in stores!

Writing 101 Redux: Accept and Except

They sound the same, but they have totally different meanings. Do you know the right way to use accept and except? 

Read today's TBT Writing 101 tip to learn how to use accept and except the right way, and you won't mix them up again.

Writing 101: The Diagram of a Story

I still remember the day I saw this diagram put up on the blackboard in English class. This is the formula of writing a story….or so they say. Is this what the diagram of a story looks like to you -- and every author in the world?

The Sum of Its Parts

This diagram is actually known as Freytag's pyramid, and it represents the five parts (or acts) of a dramatic arc. You can find this pyramid in a lot of storytelling, from books to movies.

Writing 101: Funny Business

It's a widely-accepted truth that people like to laugh. Even sad stories -- especially sad stories -- need to give readers a chuckle now and them. If you aren't naturally a funny person, it's really hard to write funny. That's why some writers need to master certain tricks to do it. Once you do, the business of being funny isn't so hard after all.

Funny Characters

One of the simplest ways to add humor to a book is to do it through a funny character. Have someone in the book deliver your one-liners, and you can drop a little comedy into any part of the book that feels too serious and heavy. Being funny gets a little easier if you craft a character that’s around just to be a clown. Now, all you need to know how to do is write a clown.

What You Have in Common with Chaucer...and Mark Twain

I always wanted to be an author, growing up, so I always answered with that when people asked me. They would then invariably try to give me advice about how to do it. Write what you know, they would always say. That’s confusing advice. You can’t always know what it’s like to swim in the ocean or climb a tree, but you can still write about these things. But authors like Geoffrey Chaucer and Mark Twain understood the idiom, and they used it in their books. You probably have something in common with these two greats, too. 

It’s Not What You Know…

I found out that “write what you know” can apply to just about anything. You can write about going to the Grand Canyon after visiting it. You can write about shopping because you’ve done it. But many of the greatest authors used it to create their characters. Two of the greatest character-creators ever were Chaucer and Twain...and they did it by writing not what they knew, but who they knew.

Death and Deep: Coming Soon!

Death and the Deep

coming in September!

I came back to the land because I thought it would be safe. I didn’t know the waves would keep calling me, even weeks after I decided to leave them for ever. 

That’s the problem with the ocean. The things we leave behind in the waves have a way of washing back up to the shore. Everything I left in the water is still out there…and I can hear it calling for me, no matter how hard I try to block the sound of the waves. 

There is death waiting for me in the deep. Even when I try my best to stay on the land, the ocean won’t stop trying to claim me as one of its own. I’m afraid that soon, it’s going to succeed.

Writing 101 Redux: There, Their, They're

Some writing lessons deserve to be repeated -- a lot. 

One set of words that cause many authors to struggle is there, their and they're. Learn the difference with today's Throwback Thursday Writing 101 tip, and don't get your words wrong anymore.

Writing 101: Skipping Time

One of the first books I ever loved follows the first-person perspective of a single character for about three years, and it’s so rich in detail that you live practically every day with the heroine. Except for that weird chapter that begins with a shocking sentence. In that sentence, the author skips ahead an entire year. Skipping time is an often-used fiction device, and it’s often jarring and upsetting. That’s probably because authors rarely do it really well.

Flashing Forward

In the book I’m making an example of, the narrator carefully details a year while living inside a very strange environment. The reader sees every detail, thought and spoken word unfold. I don’t think a single day is left out. Then all of a sudden, a year flies by. It’s just one sentence, and the first year took many chapters. No matter how you want to read it, that’s a jarring change of pace. It takes a few paragraphs to get back into the flow of things, after that. If your book is strong enough, you can always get over a rough spot.

...But why would you want to have a rough spot?

Writing 101: Repeating Words

If you write long enough, you’re going to develop a stable of favorite words. I use “clearly” all the time and describe things as “gray” way too often. When you edit your books, you should also be checking to see how often you’re repeating words. Too much repetition ruins the flow of the book and ends up becoming distracting...becoming distracting.

Clearly, Repetition is Bad

It’s really easy to fall into patterns when you write a lot. Scene structure, dialogue and your narrative voice can start to become formulaic, and you may find yourself repeating words. It’s a bad writing habit that you can’t always break.

You can, however, edit it.

Author, Interrupted

It was the second of July in the year 1961, and Ernest Hemingway was famous. He was a well-loved, bestselling American novelist and one of the world's most celebrated storytellers. This is why so many people cannot fathom why Hemingway woke from his bed that morning at 7, walked to his storage room and took out a shotgun. He placed the barrel of the gun against his forehead, and fired. It was a tragic ending to the story of an adored author.

The Hemingway Curse

At first, his wife claimed the gunshot was accidental. He'd been cleaning the weapon, she said. Finally, she admitted that she believed he had intentionally killed himself. It didn't make any sense. Hemingway was larger than life. He was a world traveler, a bullfighter, a hunter of big game, a man's man and an amazing writer. Why would such a man end it all when he was so successful and so admired by the world?

Cover Reveal: Saltwater Secrets, Book 2

Death and the Deep, Book 2 in the Saltwater Secrets trilogy comes out this September!

Writing 101 Redux: Quotes and Song Lyrics

Adding quotes and song lyrics to your book is a great way to convey certain moods and feelings. It' s a great way to set the stage. But is it legal?

Get the answer in today's Throwback Thursday Writing 101 tip, and find out all the legalities of the quotes and lyrics you want to use.

Writing 101: When Characters Grow Backwards

As you experience things in life, you learn and change because of them. This happens to the best book characters, too. Great books have character development...but there’s no rule that your character always has to improve as a person. Sometimes, characters end up growing backwards before they can start moving forward.

Lessons Learned

As an author, it’s your job to put your characters through awful situations. Give them what they want and take it away. Make them fall and hurt themselves at the wrong time. Reveal a terrible betrayal. Some characters take in all this badness and become better people because of it. But, some don’t. People don’t always improve through life. Some of them pick up more flaws as they go along. This is what I like to call growing backwards. It can be a lot of fun to write, if you can make your readers hang around to read it.

Writing 101: How Do You Compare to Other Authors?

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I like to delve into the background of famous authors. I want to know when they started writing, how they got published, if they did anything weird in their spare time, even how much money they had when they died. But that’s a bad use of my time, because I inevitably start comparing myself to those other authors. Do you ever catch yourself doing the same thing?

Stacking Up

For a little while there, I was totally obsessed with author origin stories. One author in an interview talked about how she started writing a short story. Then, she said, the next thing she knew she had a 200,000-word book. Yeah, right. Reading stories like this used to make me feel bad, because I sweat to put 200 words on the page most days. So I stopped comparing myself to them. And now, I feel better.

Famous Authors Who Died Broke

Lots of authors don’t find fame and fortune during their own lifetimes, even some of the biggest names you’ve never read. It’s hard to believe, but all of these famous authors died broke.

It’s Not About the Money (Because You Won’t Make Any)

Book writing is not a money-making game by any stretch of the imagination, unless you’re J.K. Rowling (but I’m pretty sure she doesn’t read this blog, so I think we’re safe there). Most authors, even the ones who manage to achieve a lasting legacy of fame and readership, actually pass from the world in relative obscurity without much money in their pockets. All of these famous names did, though you have certainly read at least one -- if not all -- of their books.

Secrets in the Sea

Book 2 in the Saltwater Secrets trilogy is coming out soon, so you'd better catch up on the story right now. This weekend only, you can download Saltwater Secrets, Book 1: Song of the Sea. Get it FREE at Dropbox.

I always knew who my mother was. I always knew where I belonged. And I always knew I wanted to be on the water, like my dad.

…Until I was forced to go out into the water, anyway. Out there, you feel really lonely. But you’re never alone. There is more life and emotion under the waves than most humans will ever see, more than I could have ever imagined. Down there, it’s an entire world of rage and hate, love and hope. It’s a world of fear.

It’s a world of war.

Once, my mother told me she would sing me a song of the sea. But under the waves, the only music I ever heard was the sound of screams.

Writing 101 Redux: That, Which, Whom

Do you know when to use that instead of which? What about the difference between whom and who? 

Get it all figured out in today's Throwback Thursday Writing 101, and get your grammar perfect.