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 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.

Writing 101: Breaking Up is Hard to Write

Characters in books are made to fall in love, aren’t they? It happens so often, in fact, that there’s an entire book genre that’s just about characters falling in love. It’s nice to fall in love, and it’s nice to write about falling in love. It’s even nice to read about, and that’s why it gets written about. But in the real world, that shining coin has another side: the breakup. This is a very hard thing to write, but you can’t always avoid it. So flex your typing fingers, and get ready to break some hearts.

We’ll Always Have Chapter One

Sometimes break ups happen on the page, too. There are a few different ways to write it, and I’ve rarely seen it done well. But it is a fact that when characters fall in love, a break up can always happen later...even if it’s only a temporary one.

Writing 101: The Rules of a Trilogy

There are book series, and then there are trilogies. The three stories that make up a trilogy are a series, but they have to be much more than that. If you write your own, are you going to follow the rules of a trilogy?

It Comes in Threes

There are many great book and movie trilogies out there. “Star Wars,” which is both, is a huge fan favorite. I’ll hold up “Back to the Future” as an example of a perfect trilogy any day. But if you really want to know the rules, there’s a movie trilogy you can watch to discover most of them: “Scream.” When it comes to writing your trilogy as a series of three books, the greatest trilogies ever told can help guide you through the specific rules that are now considered to be a requirement.

Maybe You'll Be Like Jane Austen, After You Die

If you've ever seen "Becoming Jane," you've been exposed to a few lies about the author's life. The truth is, no one really knew or cared about Jane Austen when she died at age 41 -- other than her immediate family and friends, of course. She'd published four novels then...all of them anonymously. Austen didn't achieve fame until many years after her death, in fact. So you can always hope for that, if things don't work out while you live.

This, and Other Dark Thoughts

If you have a bit of a dark streak, like I do, then that should serve as a sort of weirdly comforting thought. Jane Austen's books were written by "A Lady" as far as the reading public is concerned. Her brother Henry revealed her name only after she died, when he published "Persuasion" and "Northanger Abbey."

Gripped by Rebellion

"A gripping, young adult adventure in an authoritarian, fantasy world."

"This is an author and world I would like to read more of."

"Hope’s Rebellion" has been reviewed at the Bookworm Chronicles. Read the whole review to find out the Bookworm’s final rating!

Visit the Books page to find out how to get your copy of "Hope’s Rebellion."