Justice (Deck of Lies, #1)

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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 Redux: Anyways...

When should you be using anyways in your storytelling...if ever? Look back at this week's Throwback Thursday Writing 101 to find out. 

Writing 101: Unnecessary Storytelling

So I’m not going to point fingers at any authors, but I will say that lately I was exposed to some unnecessary storytelling...and I’m kind of mad about it. Misdirecting your readers is one thing, but wasting their time falls into a whole new category. So let’s find out if you’re guilty of unnecessary storytelling, because maybe you are.

Writing and Writing

For every author, there is that moment when thought no longer even seems to apply. Suddenly the words are just pouring out, so hot and thick your fingers can’t even keep up with them. And you’re in such a zone, Mount Vesuvius couldn’t possibly shake up your concentration. You are writing, and it’s going well. Iit’s when you’re in this zone that unnecessary storytelling might start to sneak in. It happens more often than you think.

Writing 101: Being a Sadist

Have you ever tortured a man until he broke down and cried? Killed a person and watched them die? You have if you’re like a lot of authors, because sometimes being a writer means being a sadist. If you write books, you’re going to end up doing a lot of terrible things -- all on the page, of course.


Characters in books start to feel a little like friends, don’t they? I know Anne Shirley well. I would feel totally at home sitting with her in a turn-of-the-century Canadian kitchen, drinking raspberry cordial. For authors who create those characters, the connection is even stronger. And it’s really hard to make terrible things happen to those characters, to allow those characters to feel the pain of it all. But you have to. When you’re writing, you need to get sadistic.

The Other 57 Books That Charles Dickens Wrote

Great Expectations. Oliver Twist. A Christmas Carol. Charles Dickens was clearly an incredible author, and everyone can name one or two of his books because people are still reading them. But here’s a little secret about old Chucky the Brit: he wrote 20 novels. With the possible exception of Jeopardy champ Ken Jennings, I’m pretty sure no one can name them all -- and even more certain that only a handful of people have actually read them all. Charles Dickens wrote lots of other books besides David Copperfield.


In the days of Charles Dickens, there was no automatic spell checker. The typewriter wasn’t invented until the very end of his life, which means he was writing out his novels by hand. That makes his 20 novels highly impressive indeed, though not all of them have been big hits. Charles Dickens tried a technique that’s used in advertising all the time: saturation.

Writing 101 Redux: Toward vs. Towards

Should you be moving toward your dreams, or towards them? Today's Throwback Thursday Writing 101 will answer that question conclusively.

Writing 101: Confessions of an Absentee Author

In a perfect world, I would write every word of my books from the proper typing position, in a comfortable room all alone. I would have an endless supply of coffee and Mountain Dew. And I would type on my laptop, watching the story unfold before my very eyes. This is not how I write my books. I’m about to tell you the truth of how I manage to write books while working an 80-workweek. The truth is, I almost never type books on my laptop. These are the confessions of an absentee author.

To Tell the Truth

Last Thursday, I worked for 16 hours straight. I do mean straight. I don’t take breaks to eat, because clearly I haven’t got the time for that nonsense. I eat one-handed and drive the mouse with the other so I can still get some work done. The Wednesday before last Thursday, I worked for almost 14 hours. Every day, I work all day. When I get finished, I want to sleep. It would be ideal if I could just go ahead and crash then and there with the laptop still on top of me. That way, when I wake up I can just get right back to it. But that’s not very practical, because I still have to brush my teeth. So I don’t go immediately to sleep when I finish working. I may have to fold laundry or clean something up. I’ve got to wash my face and floss. And here is where I find the time to write my books. If you can call it that.

Writing 101: Focus

When you want to write a book, it really helps if you’ve got a good vocabulary. You’re going to need something to write on, and I recommend a lightweight laptop with a full-sized keyboard. It’s always useful to have a good imagination, to have the ability to visualize and picture things. But it is absolutely essential that you have one ingredient, or you will never, ever, ever finish that book: focus.

What’s That Over There?

Seriously, the other stuff can be dealt with. You can buy a thesaurus, right? You can learn typing techniques. Heck, there are classes online for free that teach technique. It’s even possible to improve your imagination. The more you use it, the more it works. Focus...that’s something that you either have, or don’t. And lately, I don’t have it. Do you?

It’s Really Easy to Hate Nicholas Sparks

Sure, I enjoyed "A Walk to Remember," like everyone else. But by the time "The Best of Me" came to theaters, I was thoroughly disgusted. It's really easy to hate Nicholas Sparks...and I do.

Author, Author

Please, don’t bombard me with emails. I know all of you love “The Notebook,” and yes I have seen the film also. But sometimes, I feel a little bit like Nicholas Sparks is writing the same book over and over. In fact, I’ve noticed that lots of authors are writing the same books over and over.

Writing 101 Redux: It's Very Easy to Over-Use Very

The word very doesn't really lend anything to your writing. In fact, some authors will tell you not to use the word at all. Find out what you should do about very in today's TBT Writing 101. 

This Throwback Thursday post will tell you exactly what to do about very, and where it belongs in your writing.

Writing 101: What Do You Know About Insanity?

At some point, you may want to write a murder mystery, or just insert a murder into your story. You may need to have a character behave in a way that’s inexplicable, or less than normal. You may need to write a character who’s crazy. But what do you know about insanity?

Crazy is as Crazy Does

To simply write a character who is “crazy” is going to feel unsatisfying. Being crazy is a motive for killing someone or running around the street naked and screaming, or doing other things that just plain don’t make sense. But it’s not an explanation, and your readers are going to crave an explanation. How is this character crazy? Why are they insane? Because what you have to remember is this: the character doesn’t know they are insane. To them, everything they are doing makes perfect sense. So before you write it, you have to get inside of their crazy.

Are you ready to make yourself insane? Because if you’re going to write crazy, you need to know it.

Writing 101: You, and Your Writing Environment

I've always said that writers have to know how to tune out the world if they're going to get anything done. You have to know how to write in a noisy room, in crowded rooms in a house with pets running around and people underfoot. Your writing environment may be imperfect, but a writer soldiers on. But it has come to my attention recently that you can learn how to shut out the world, ignore those other people at Starbucks, pretend the phone isn't ringing and stay away from Twitter for one more hour...and still struggle in your writing environment. The most important space you will ever work in is your own head space. And if that space isn't right, nothing will be.

Check Your Head

Every book you will ever write is inside your head. You have to pull it out of your brain, word by word, and sometimes it's painful. Sometimes it's difficult. Sometimes you've got phones ringing and stereos blasting and cats screeching. And sometimes, you won't. You could have a perfectly silent room with blank walls and a big desk to write behind with no distractions whatsoever, and you can still be unable to pull those words out of your brain. Because sometimes, it's your own head that's too noisy, and cramped,and cluttered...and messy. This is the writing environment you need to control. And of course, it's the hardest one you'll ever have to control. 

Why You Can’t Be Margaret Mitchell Anymore

I always thought that Margaret Mitchell had a pretty sweet gig. Raised in the south, like another author we know, Margaret Mitchell wrote about the stories that she heard growing up. She wrote "Gone With the Wind," and that turned out to be the only book she needed to write. Margaret Mitchell never wrote another one. But I can't be her, and neither can you. Authors can't just write one book anymore. And if Margaret Mitchell was around today, she wouldn't be able to, either.

One Book Wonders

Lots of authors actually do write just one book, but you don't know who those people are. Most of them don't spend the rest of their lives reading fan mail and turning down interview requests. For the most part, authors who write just one book simply fade away. A rare few are remembered...or at least, they were.

Writing 101 Redux: Book Pricing

Lots of indie authors are great at writing blurbs and creating attractive book pages, but when it comes to pricing things get tricky. For people whose strength lie in words, numbers can get frightening. 

Visit this week's Throwback Thursday Writing 101, and find out what you need to know about pricing your ebooks

Writing 101: What You Can Do with Book Clubs

Book clubs are used by readers who want to get together and talk about what they’re reading. But authors can’t afford to overlook these casual clubs. Indie authors should start using them at every possible opportunity. Do it, and you could sell more books and get lots more readers.

The Ends and the Means

For this exercise, convince yourself of two things. First, you are an amazing writer and everyone ought to read your stuff or they are missing out. And second, you are incredibly assertive. You will need both the confidence and the strength, or you may not get anywhere at all. But if you can believe these things, you can start promoting yourself to book clubs in a whole lot of different ways.

Writing 101: What Hasn’t Been Written Yet?

Why aren’t your books selling? It could be that your book is too similar to books that are already out there. Lots of authors find themselves telling the same stories over and over, and I maintain that anything that Shakespeare didn't write, the Greeks already wrote. To that end, lots of Shakespeare stuff looks like the Greek playwrights. So if you’re looking for a new idea anyway, look around the book market. And ask yourself this question: what hasn’t been written yet?

A Tale of Two Writers

So, you probably don’t think of Julia Child as a writer. If you think about her at all, it’s most likely you’re thinking of Dan Aykroyd. That’s what I think about: a tall woman with a high-pitched voice, showing me how to cook a turkey. But Julia Child was also an incredibly successful writer, and not just a world-famous chef. She noticed a book that didn't exist, and she wrote it. That’s pretty much what all authors want to do, and she succeeded at it.

Having a Wild Imagination Isn’t Always a Good Thing

Every author needs to have a good imagination. Writers must envision entire people and settings, visualize action and see scenes play out. It’s good to have an imagination, but not always. Some authors maybe get a little too creative with their thoughts. In some ways, I think Bram Stoker was a little crazy. He had a really wild imagination, and you won’t believe where it took him.

Conspiracy Theory

Most people know Bram Stoker for “Dracula,” that chilling tale of the immortal Count who must drink blood to continue his unholy ways. Fewer people are aware that Stoker was also a conspiracy theorist who wrote what he called non-fiction. One of his most popular --and peculiar-- theories is that Queen Elizabeth I was, in fact, a dude in drag.