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Jan 24, 2013

Blood To Be Released on Valentine's Day


Dindi and Umbral have an uneasy truce, forced to work together to defeat a greater enemy: the Bone Whistler. The Bone Whistler’s scheme to sacrifice humanity and resurrect the Aelfae will culminate during an eclipse on the spring equinox…in three days.

Their fragile alliance may not withstand the terrors they face. Dindi hides as a clown, but even disguised, her dancing draws the eye of the Bone Whistler himself. She will have to defy him alone, for Umbral has  his own troubles.

Finnadro, who has hunted Umbral for a year, finally catches up with him… determined to punish Umbral for all his black deeds.

Life and death, spring and autumn, human and faery, are all reeling out of balance, and these three days will determine the fate of all Faearth.


Take a peek inside with this excerpt: 

Jan 22, 2013

Big News About Book 6 TOMORROW!

Hey everyone! It's Tara's assistant, Katie, here to let you know that Tara has some big news to share about The Unfinished Song (Book 6) Blood tomorrow to all of the newsletter subscribers. Everyone else will have to wait until Thursday. Subscribe today if you want to be among the first to find out! Click here to sign up. 

(Of course we will not sell your email address (No matter how much we're offered!) or use them for shady purposes. In addition to information about new releases, we're working on a regular monthly newsletter, so it shouldn't be too much extra coming to your inbox.) 

Jan 18, 2013

How To Take Criticism Of Your Writing


Now, we always give advice on how to crit, but, as we discussed 
earlier, perhaps it is more important to discuss how to receive 
crits. Personally, if one receives a crit that tells you, "Your basic 
idea is all wrong," how should you take this?

image: xkcd

Jan 17, 2013

Three Ways To Do Dialogue Attributes Wrong


One of the first novels I wrote, 
when I was, ye gods, twelve or thirteen, I don't remember (or I have 
thankfully blanked the memory from my brain) was Star Trek 
fanfic.

On the first draft, the dialogue looked something like this:

"Maybe the attacker was a Klingon," said Kirk.
"That is not logical, Captain," said Spock.
"But he looked like a Klingon," said Kirk.
"But then he turned into a furry white snow monster," said Spock.

"That's what puzzles me," said Kirk.

And so on.

Graphic Conversation
image: Marc Wathieu

Well, neophyte though I was, even I could tell that was 
terrible dialogue. (And it tended to go on for three pages). But why, WHY did it suck rocks? That's what I needed to pin down. Probably 
because so much was wrong, I settled on the most obvious (to me) 
problem, the boring repetition of "said."

Jan 16, 2013

Writing for Boys -- Take the Quiz!

I have a son who is learning to read. I want to write stories that will be of 
interest and value to him. I know the 
values that I believe are universal to sentient beings, but are there elements which are particularly attractive 
to the little boy goobers out there?

JJ's Beautiful Mess free creative commons

Jan 13, 2013

Guest Post: Are Indie Books Worth Reviewing?

Rayne Hall has published more than forty books under different pen names with different publishers in different genres, mostly fantasy, horror and non-fiction. Recent books include Storm Dancer (dark epic fantasy novel), Six Historical Tales Vol 1, Six Scary Tales Vol 1, 2 and 3 (mild horror stories), Six Historical Tales (short stories), Six Quirky Tales (humorous fantasy stories), Writing Fight Scenes and Writing Scary Scenes (instructions for authors).

She holds a college degree in publishing management and a masters degree in creative writing. Currently, she edits the Ten Tales series of multi-author short story anthologies: Bites: Ten Tales of Vampires, Haunted: Ten Tales of Ghosts, Scared: Ten Tales of Horror, Cutlass: Ten Tales of Pirates, Beltane: Ten Tales of Witchcraft, Spells: Ten Tales of Magic and more. 

Her short online classes for writers intense with plenty of personal feedback. Writing Fight Scenes, Writing Scary Scenes, Writing about Magic and Magicians, The Word Loss Diet and more. 

For more information about Rayne Hall go to her website


Certain book blogs state categorically that they won't review self-published books. I understand their motivation: They get inundated with submissions and are trying to keep the numbers down.

However, No Indies is as arbitrary as No Jews or No Women.

The reviewers aim to filter out low-quality works - but is the publishing method a valid quality filter?

It used to be. In the late 20th century, the established path to publication was author-agent-publisher-bookseller-reader. Each book had to pass three gates on its journey from author to reader, and each gate represented a quality test. Self-published books were inevitably those that had failed at the first two gates.

Times have changed. E-publishing makes it possible to reach the readers directly, and many authors choose the direct route instead of queuing at the gates.

Without gatekeepers barring entry, many poorly-written and under-revised books get published. A lot of indie (i.e. self-published) books are not as good as their authors think. Frankly, there's a mass of indie dross - but there are also many indie gems.

The boundary between “good book” and “bad book” doesn't happen to coincide with the frontier between indie-published and legacy-published books.

Consider the authors who use both publishing models: Amanda Hocking, John Locke and Michael Stackpole submit some of their works to legacy publishers and self-publish others. Are these authors' legacy-published books better than their self-published ones?

Or how about the authors were successful with legacy-published books, but then decided to go indie? Consider Joe Konrath, Barry Eisler, Kevin O. McLaughlin and Dean Wesley Smith. Have they lost their ability to write good books?

Then there are the authors who took their previously legacy-published out-of-print books and self-published them as ebooks - Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Piers Anthony, for instance. The books are the same, so how can they suddenly be less worthy?

Over three decades, I had twenty books published by several legacy publishers before choosing the indie route. Does this mean my old books are worth reviewing, and my new books are not - even though I have grown as a writer?

Not long ago, a book blogger approached me. She had enjoyed the stories in Six Scary Tales Vol 1 and asked for review copies of Vol 2 and 3, so she could review the series. Shortly after I sent the books, I received an email “Your books are self-published and therefore not worth reading or reviewing.”

Excuse me? When she assumed that the books were legacy-published, she liked the stories and wanted more. On discovery that they were indie-published, the same stories were suddenly not worth reading. What does this say about the reviewer's judgement?

Most stories in the Six Scary Tales series were originally published the legacy way in magazines and anthologies. Did inclusion in the self-published collection damage their quality?

I appreciate that book bloggers decline to read certain books, e.g. No Erotica, No Horror or No Romance, because if a book isn't to their taste, it would be tedious to read and difficult to review.

But to decline all indie-published books because they can't possibly be good is like refusing to read books penned by women or by Jews because no woman or Jew could possibly write something worth reading.

So how can a book reviewer assess which books are worth reading? I think the answer is obvious: by looking at the book itself. Reading the first few pages will show the reviewer whether it's their kind of book. Often, a quick glance at the first paragraph is enough to weed out the obvious dross. If reviewers can't form their own opinion of what they're reading, they shouldn't be reviewing books.

Jan 12, 2013

Opportunities Lost



In April 1667, an  signed an agreement with Samuel Simmons, a London bookseller, to publish 1,500 copies of his book.

The author earned five pounds.

He later earned another five pounds for the sequel, which he sold in 1669.

After his death, the author's wife granted the rights to both works, in perpetuity, to the publisher for a whooping... eight pounds.

The book?

Paradise Lost.

Jan 6, 2013

Guest Post: Writing Short Stories to Promote Your Novel


Rayne Hall has published more than forty books under different pen names with different publishers in different genres, mostly fantasy, horror and non-fiction. Recent books include Storm Dancer (dark epic fantasy novel), Six Historical Tales Vol 1, Six Scary Tales Vol 1, 2 and 3 (mild horror stories), Six Historical Tales (short stories), Six Quirky Tales (humorous fantasy stories), Writing Fight Scenes and Writing Scary Scenes (instructions for authors).

She holds a college degree in publishing management and a masters degree in creative writing. Currently, she edits the Ten Tales series of multi-author short story anthologies: Bites: Ten Tales of Vampires, Haunted: Ten Tales of Ghosts, Scared: Ten Tales of Horror, Cutlass: Ten Tales of Pirates, Beltane: Ten Tales of Witchcraft, Spells: Ten Tales of Magic and more. 

Her short online classes for writers intense with plenty of personal feedback. Writing Fight Scenes, Writing Scary Scenes, Writing about Magic and Magicians, The Word Loss Diet and more. 

For more information about Rayne Hall go to her website


Short stories are excellent promotional tools. You can offer free stories to attract new readers. If they like the short, they'll be hooked and look for more by the same author. Make the story free, and charge for the novel.

What Kind of Story?

The story must appeal to the same readers as the novel. Don't write children's stories if you want to promote adult novels. Make the story as similar to the novel as you can. Here are some ideas:

* Same genre. This is important. Paranormal stories promote paranormal novels; horror stories promote horror novels; chicklit stories promote chicklit novels.

* Same mood. If the novel is funny, the story has to be funny too. If the novel is scary, gritty, thought-provoking, tear-jerking or sexy, then the story has to be scary, gritty, thought-provoking, tear-jerking or sexy.

* Same location. Are your novels set in South Carolina or in Hong Kong? Choose the same setting for the story.

* Same period. To promote contemporary novels, you need contemporary stories. If you write historicals, using the same period cuts down on research and has the greatest promotional effect.

* Same characters. Involving the heroine and hero in another story can bring problems, but minor characters are a safe choice. Consider promoting members of the novels' supporting cast to a starring role in the story.

Jan 4, 2013

5 Secrets of the Kickass Heroine



Kickass heroines are all the rage. But it's tricky to do right. I've read some books that do a terrific job... and others that aren't convincing.

1. Less Talk, More Action

The first time we meet Katsa in Graceling, she is knocking out guards, breaking into a dungeon and rescuing a prince. A quick flashback shows her accidentally killing a child-molester with one blow when she was only eight years old--the first time her Grace showed up. Since we have seen her amazing martial arts skills and innate ability to defend herself in action, her position as Utterly Badass is secure.

However, I've read other books where characters keep talking about what a badass the heroine is... without much evidence. They mention that she trains or that she "could beat any guy here" but when we finally see her in action, she's sick at the sight of blood, or doesn't want to kill. Huh?

2. Morality is Relative

A badass heroine needs to be strong, even ruthless, without being devoid of compassion. This is true for a hero as well as a heroine, but the fact of the matter is that readers are less forgiving of a unforgiving heroine than a hero. People even complained that Katniss was too hard, although her character was perfectly consistent. 
To try to make a heroine sympathetic, some writers will try to emphasize how she hates what she's doing... killing disgusts her, or blood makes her sick. Pushed too far, however, and these kinds of reactions make it hard to believe she would make much of a fighter.

The key is to remember that if she is fighting someone much, much worse...or to defend someone much more innocent... she will come across as strong yet heroic rather than cold and unfeeling.

3. Defeat Lesser Baddies First

There are two opponents who will typically throw the Badass Heroine for a loop. One is the Big Bad. Naturally, he / she /it has to be pretty crazy awful or the final battle will be anti-climatic. A Big Badass deserves a Big Bad. But... don't have them fight all at once. Because the first time, the Big Bad is going to wipe the floor with the heroine, and it has to be clear this is because the Big Bad is THAT POWERFUL not because the heroine is a timid little girl.

The other one who will nix the mojo of any hotblooded heroine is the Hot Guy. He may be her equal of the field of martial arts or he may defeat her by some other equally powerful but totally different kind of talent or he may freeze her with Pure Hotness.

To truly display her awesome, a badass heroine needs to easily dispatch lesser threats before she meets a threat -- or a boy -- that she can't immediately overcome. In Paranormalacy, we see Evie bag a creature, and understand this is ordinary business for her. Only after that does she encounter a bigger danger than she can handle... or an invisible boy.


4. Juggling Gender Roles

Another issue that always faces a badass heroine (but not a hero) is how much her society approves her martial prowess. Even if she is a contemporary urbanite or a futuristic soldier, she may encounter people who think a woman "shouldn't".  If she is from a feudal, quasi-medieval world, or from a sexist, quasi-medeival dystopia, she's going to be going against everything her people believe in to fight for herself. It has to be convincing that she could learn to fight, want to fight and have the opportunity to fight.

It might help if she belongs to a subculture or has a "special" circumstance that works against the majority culture. But if is she alone out of all the world has contemporary feminist values, that's going to be pretty hard to believe.


5. Opposites Attract

Traditionally, the strong, silent gunslingling cowboy had a soft, peace-loving but verbally sharp female to stand beside him. Now that the heroine might be the strong, silent gunslinger, it makes sense that she might fall for a peace-loving, verbally sharp guy. Right?

Sure... but this is tricky because of the lack of symmetry when it comes to switching gender roles. As unfair as it is, when you say a girl is boy-like, it's a compliment, but if you say a boy is girl-like, you insult the boy. And unfortunately, one place this rule still holds sway is in Romance stories. (Even more in stories than in real life.) The ideal Romance hero is still an Alpha male... and if the heroine falls for a guy she has to physically protect, rather than someone who protects her... some people still have a problem with that.

If the hero has feminine strengths, never play it for laughs (even though three thousand years of literary convention will encourage this). Show those strengths as power. As they should be. In the three examples I've mentioned, GracelingHunger Games and Paranormalacy, the heroes possess many traditionally feminine strengths, such as empathy, and are often in need of protection from the heroine. But they are still an equal and a match to her.