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: 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?