Spreading the Word Some More . . . Again

Jina S. Bazzar’s fifth book, From Fame to Ruin—a standalone romantic thriller/suspense novel—has been out a short while.   Her blog tour didn’t happen as it should have, so I thought I’d give a quick [well deserved] plug.

Fame is a thrilling read, one you’ll be glued to because you’ll want to find out who-dun-it.  Set in beautiful Brazil, the enthralling story revolves around the music and business worlds and various persons who reside within them.  Both are  as competitive as they can be cutthroat; darkness dwells beyond the glitter in one and rivalry exists in the revenue of the other.

The gripping storyline is filled with twists and turns, and surprises.  Love at first sight does exist.  But does it last?  Can Carol and Ricardo’s rollercoaster relationship withstand the challenges, trials and tribulations certain characters thrust at at them?

aa1jinablogJina is known for fantasy (like the Roxanne Fosch series), but it’s obvious she excels at writing other genres.  Switching categories isn’t easy, so [numerous] hats off to her.

Please check Jina out here:




Spreading the Word . . .

. . . on behalf of Sean Robins, author of The Scarlet Queen, The Golden Viper, and The White Republic (some of the quirky [fun/exciting] books in the sci-fi The Crimson Deathbringer series).

Jim Harrison is the main protagonist, a fighting hero with an ego and alter-ego named Venom.  He has a trustworthy best friend, Kurt, who helps him win battles.  And there is a great array of secondary characters, such as dogged and determined (win at all costs) General Maada, prank-dense and maybe dangerous (but you can never truly be sure) Tarq, and beautiful femme-fatale mercenary and spy, Xornaa.

So, per Sean’s request, I’m helping spread the word: the box set continues to be a bestseller!  How awesome is that?  If you haven’t yet checked out his books, I highly recommend you do; each one is an entertaining (easy-to-get-hooked) read.

A little about Sean: he’s a university/college-level English teacher and huge Marvel (plus Star Trek, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, and Stargate) fan, as is evident in his stories (they’re full of pop-culture references).

Check him out on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/sean.robins.77, and Amazon, https://www.amazon.com/Sean-Robins/e/B07PS1116K%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share, among others.

The Fairy in a Tale

Fairies seem to be quite popular in fiction (I’ve seen several in the last while, particularly in manuscripts I’m editing).  The ones I’ve “encountered” are usually small, cute, have magical powers, but can sometimes be tricksters (they’re cute but not necessarily sweet).

That got me to thinking where “fairytale” originates from.  The general dictionary consensus is that a fairytale is a children’s story about magical and imaginary beings and lands.

The genre originates courtesy of different spoken stories passed down through various European cultures. Per Wikipedia: “the genre was first marked out by writers of the Renaissance, such as Giovanni Francesco Straparola and Giambattista Basile, and stabilized through the works of later collectors such as Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm.”

Not sure about the other names, but I’m familiar with the Brothers Grimm, Wilhelm and Jacob.  They sported several hats but were perhaps best known for their stories (folk tales), first published in 1812.  Thought I’d throw that in there.

I digress, something I do well.  In today’s fiction market, what makes a fairytale a fairytale?  They’re set in the past is one of the criteria.  I’d disagree with that; they can certainly be set in modern times but contain components of that mythical/mystical/magical world that differentiates it from the world as we know it.  I’d concur that there’s that once-upon-a-time element, suggesting that the story transpired in another realm (a make-believe one).

Common features of the fairy’s fantasy world—forests seem to be particularly popular—include castles and palaces, villages and rural areas, rivers and streams.  Royalty often resides in one form or another.  There are bad sorts to challenge the good ones.  Additionally, there’s a lesson and/or moral to be found.  And, for sure, you have to have a happy ending (or should).

HcXSThe purpose of this post was to enlighten myself infinitesimally, an amount as miniscule as a flitting fairy.

The Kid in Me & You

Who doesn’t love a good children’s book?  There’s always a little bit of a kid still in us, no matter what our age. But perhaps you’re considering writing a children’s book?  If so, do it!

Figure out what type you’d like to write: early reader, picture book, chapter book, middle grade, YA, etc.  Challenge yourself.  Have fun.  Write to your heart’s content . . . or until the imagination drowses . . . then pick up again the next day.

Before you submit your completed work to a publisher or editor, confirm that it’s professional quality.  This means, yes, you’ll have to edit it.

While you want to be aware of how you express yourself on paper / on the screen for a younger audience, most of the basic editing “rules” still apply.

Have a dynamic opening—you want to catch your readers immediately (reel them in from the get-go).

Remember the opening of Charlotte’s Web?  Young Fern asks why her father has an ax.  Mrs. Arable says he is going to the barn to do away with the runt of a pig litter.  The little girl immediately races out to stop her father.  I don’t know about you, but I was sucked in right away (in fact, I didn’t put that book down until I finished it, a sobbing, blubbering mess).

Ensure that the plot/storyline are entertaining; young(er) readers get bored with bad, silly, or boring plots just as easily as older ones do.

Offer an intriguing (entertaining) main character and ensure the other ones are strong/personable/memorable.

“I am Sam”.  Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs & Ham was a favorite.  Simple.  Fun.  Entertaining.  But, then, so were most of his books—all with memorable and fun characters.

If your main character is searching for something, or perhaps themselves, or may think aloud a lot, talk to themselves, or have things to share, consider adding a “buddy” that he/she can bounce ideas off of or enjoy adventures with.  There are many friendships to list from childhood, but think of Charlotte and Wilbur, Charlie Brown and Snoopy, Bently and Daisy, Winnie-the-Pooh and Tigger, Eeyore, Piglet, and Roo, Curious George and the Man in the Yellow Hat.

Make certain dialogue serves a purpose and isn’t repetitive.

Show, don’t tell; ensure action and dialogue make the story come alive.  Keep the “he said” “she said” to a minimum.

Avoid using the same words too frequently, and don’t be overly descriptive or detailed.  Maintain your young readers’ attention.

Provide appropriate transitions when moving to a new scene or chapter.

Be clear.  Keep the flow and action consistent and logical.  The story and action have to make sense (even if in a fairy/fantasy world).  Provide reasons for actions/reactions.  If Mr. Moose and Mr. Caribou have to fly to Alaska on a magical sled, ensure the reader knows why—even if they’re doing it for a lark.

Keep the writing tight and pace steady/smooth.

There you have them, a few suggestions.  Editing your own work, as many will attest, is not always easy or enjoyable (the moans and groans can prove plentiful, so can the caffeine breaks).  Think of editing as a challenge.  Pull on your editor’s hat and have at it.  You can do it . . . and you may even have fun.

Baring the Ol’ Soul

Emotions are a very real, raw thing, and can be difficult to capture in fiction if not presented correctly or well.  Making them public in nonfiction may prove equally difficult, not only because of how they are described, but because they come from the soul, the heart . . . from experiences that are taxing, trying, empowering, lifting, or bittersweet.  Imaginary or real (dramatized or recounted), they often prove poignant. 

Editing nonfiction accounts of challenging times in people’s lives—memoirs, personal accounts—is tricky at times.  Do you edit with the fiction hat on . . .  and propose the following, without applying the “editing pen”?  Do you offer the same advice you would to a fiction writer?

    • Show, don’t tell.
    • Avoid using the same words too frequently.
    • Be mindful of dialogue and dialogue tags; don’t restate or offer the obvious.
    • Steer clear of repeating an event, action, or conversation.
    • Dodge overused/reiterated devices and approaches that lend themselves to flatness.

The nonfiction hat, particularly when dealing with emotional/heartbreaking topics, wants to be softer, less analytical.  As such, you may be tempted to:

    • keep the simplicity/intensity, even the repetitiveness, that’s being revealed (because, again, it comes from the soul, the heart)
    • preserve—as is—something that is being shared and bared.

Then, the juggling hat appears.  Maybe you determine that the best editing tactic is to allow the narrative to unfold exactly as the writer—soul-barer—intended.  If someone has disclosed some highly subjective if not private moments, is it fair to alter what is visceral, intense, and so very personal?  No, probably not . . . but it wouldn’t hurt to tighten here and there, staying true to the writer’s intention(s) and mode of expression. 

It’s a tough call sometimes.  And editing instinct has to play a part, too.  Get a feel . . . for what feels right.

For someone planning to pen a personal tale, before beginning, give some thought to the following:

    • write [reveal] vital, relevant events
    • don’t communicate every detail
    • share with all senses—allow readers to feel, smell, see, hear, touch (like fiction, pull them in; let them understand the situation from a “sensory” POV)
    • ensure readers get to know you or the person you’re writing about (the quest, struggle/situation, outcome)
    • be honest
    • use dialogue here and there and make it compelling, not of the “he said, she said” variety.

1abckindpngsatSharing a personal tale can prove purging, which is great (I have some of that to do), but it can also be enlightening, instructional, supportive/helpful, encouraging, for readers who have undergone similar situations . . . or those that want to learn about, and from, them.

Consider the goal for sharing [publishing] the intimate account—aim for it—and write [honestly and honorably] from the soul and heart.


There’s nothing better than a riveting suspense novel, one that is full of excitement, thrills, tension, edginess . . . one that keeps the reader glued to the pages, wanting to find out what transpires . . . yet not really wanting the story to end . . . because it’s that good.  (I’m reading one now; hence the compulsion to post about it.)

So, you’d like to write one and are wondering what helps make a suspense story good?  Don’t reveal all.  You want to grab a reader’s interest/curiosity from the get-go and that is done not just with the story or plot, but through the characters.  There’s a problem or challenge, maybe a few, a mission or quest, maybe a few, that the protagonist (and/or main characters) has to pursue, and solve or resolve.

The protagonist, like the main characters, should have issues and/or a complicated past.  Something drives him or her.  Or maybe something makes him or her want to avoid the world.  What incidents/events have molded the protagonist?

Teasing the reader here and there can add to the suspense.  Perhaps Jim’s private-eye partner, Ralph, has been severely beaten.  Jim is supposed to meet him at ten, and is waiting, eager to hear what information Ralph has received that will help them solve a puzzler of a case.  The reader is aware of what has happened to Ralph; Jim is not.  Tension builds . . . particularly if the thugs who’d done the dastardly deed have discussed meeting Jim at the rendezvous spot with the intention of “taking care” of him, too.

Perhaps certain characters are bleak or somber, mysterious or treacherous, deranged or self-centered; this makes them dangerous, intriguingly so.  Revealing snippets of what makes them tick—or doesn’t—will keep the reader wanting to learn more.  Will the somber and deranged Mr. Darke succeed in his desire to bring down a former ally?  Can Ms. Perile convince her employer that a coworker is the saboteur and, subsequently, the reason the company lost a major account?

The reader should know more than the protagonist.  Not everything, but more.  Anxiety and hope want us to continue reading—and spur the protagonist.  At the same time, the reader wants to be solving the mystery/dilemma with him or her.  And there’s certain dread when the reader, like the protagonist, comes face to face with evil or terror, be it in the form of a serial killer, a maleficent boss, wicked wife, or pugnacious partner . . . or ghastly past.

Throw in surprises/shocks.  Have something happen that comes from left field—something no one, character(s) and reader(s) alike, ever expected.  Maybe someone unpredictably dies or proves to be a completely different person (be it via a personality change, revelation re background, or switch in intentions).  As with mysteries, suspense novels should throw out a red herring or two, offer clues and/or foreshadowing, elements that create excitement, anticipation, and tension.  The reader is dying to know what’s what.

Create suspense early and sustain it throughout the story.  In each chapter, you want to have a question or two that remains unanswered; this will prompt the reader to continue to search for the answer(s).  Perhaps reveal something startling or unforeseen in the last paragraph.  Determine what works best, given the plot and characters, and have at it.

Additional storylines can be added—lesser ones.  Perhaps you’d like to share action/dialogue between two villains or secondary characters; make certain it’s tight, of value-add, and interesting.  Flashbacks can also help but keep them manageable and to a minimum.

Finally, before “the end” arrives, ensure all loose ends are tied up, because you truly want to avoid reader head-scratching.

Now,  a great [suspenseFULL] read is beckoning my return.

Jewel in a Journal

Hey, it’s Rey, with my first post of 2022.  The Boss’ blog—when it’s not featuring me and Linda and JJ, and our Triple Threat Investigation Agency—tends to deal with editing and writing from a published perspective.  That got me to thinking about sharing something not related to the world of publishing, something I started last year: journaling.  It can prove a real jewel.

For those not in the know, journaling is, basically, jotting down your thoughts, emotions/moods, and memories.  It’s a way to purge—what’s eating at you, what makes you sad or angry or happy.  Record problems and issues (when you revisit them later, you may find solutions or see that they weren’t as intense or bad as they seemed at the time).

I’ve heard it said that it’s beneficial, not only to watch yourself develop/grow, but in that it can enhance how you work and act; it allows you to think, contemplate, mull over, and process and, thereby, deal with stresses, traumas, and challenging situations.  It’s a little too cerebral for me, but maybe we can have Linda post about that at a future date.

Journaling can be comforting.  I know when I’ve had a bad froth-at-the-mouth day and I sit down to write what’s p’o’d me, I actually feel calmer once I’ve let it all out.  Now, I may still want to yell at the person who’s annoyed me, or kick the door shut, or scream, but not nearly to the same degree.  And, with time (a few minutes, a few hours) I’ve shut off those non-productive emotions like I’ve shut my journal for the day.

What I can also confirm is that journaling works—you really do feel good once you’ve laid it all out on paper or screen.  It’s kind of like having a silent psychotherapist; you reveal all, no holds barred, and you don’t receive advice you feel is useless or know you can’t follow.  Re-reading journal notes can be eye-opening, sometimes jolting, sometimes soothing . . . and sometimes kind of like an epiphany (my new word of the year).

Think of it as a record of you.  Even though I’ve only been doing it a short while, I like that, years from now, I will have accounts of who I was, what I was going through, and how I dealt with or resolved problems.  Will I laugh?  Cry?  Groan?  Roll my eyes?  Maybe all, he-he.

Not sure you can do it?  Feeling intimidated?  You can do it.  Remember, you don’t have to write a full page.  You don’t even have to jot down full sentences.  Write one line or use point-form (words that describe that day, that moment).  Swear if you like.  It’s your personal journal and you can say whatever you want.

Don’t be intimidated by the thought or commitment.  Just grab a notebook and pen or sit at the computer.  Give it two minutes, if that’s all you can commit to.  You don’t need to do it at the same time each day, but I find, for myself, that sitting down at night, an hour or so before bed, works for me.  Maybe you’d like to do it while having a morning coffee.  Whatever works . . . works.

Should you share?  A good question and I can’t answer that.  I’d prefer to keep my journal private, but who knows?  Maybe one day I’ll feel that others can benefit from my experiences and solutions.

You won’t know how helpful or cleansing it can be until you try it.  So, if you haven’t tried journaling, I simply say . . . give it a go!

Twenty-Two, How’d You Do?

Happy 2022 . . .  a new year, new dreams and wishes and hopes.  Here’s to them coming true.

It was difficult deciding what the first post of the year should touch on.  Should it be informative?  Entertaining?  Silly?  Serious?

Then, a thought hit: why not “pen” something different, something rarely done?  Like a poem.

Welcome to twenty, twenty-two

How do you do?

I’m not a poet, as you’ll soon see

But what would life be

Without a challenge or three?

Here’s hoping this year brings a reprieve

Re issues and tidings we’ll likely receive.

May our circumstances improve

That we find a new cheery groove

And once again forward we move.

Farewell to the old, the sad and the bad

Let us embrace joy and be so very glad.

Allow the pandemic to finally leave us be

So our lives are filled with total glee

And we’re all once again so very free.

Well, that was kind of fun.  Yes, as the gals from the Triple Threat Investigation snorted and chortled, and declared, “Don’t leave your day job!!”  (He-he, I believe I’ll heed their advice.)

Happy 2022!

Another Year Arriveth

As the 31st approaches, there’s a certain energy in the air.  It’s different from that experienced the week prior, but it’s definitely there, electric, tangible.  There’s hope . . . optimism . . . faith that things will be better. 

And the beauty of a new year waiting around the corner is that anything is possible.  The pandemic will finally disappear.  World peace will prove achievable.  Despots and tyrants will see the light.  Wars and violence are things of the past.  Lessons are learned and applied.  Prejudices and biases are forgotten.  Inequality and intolerance no longer exist.  Hardships and burdens will vanish.

Here’s to a new year that is forgiving and bountiful, filled with days that hold promise and potential.

Happy 2022 everyone!

Judy Hogan Writes

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