No Plot? No Pants? No Problem! | Author Toolbox Blog Hop

Posted by on May 17, 2017 in #AuthorToolboxBlogHop, Creativity and the Writing Process, Uncategorized | 4 comments

No Plot? No Pants? No Problem! | Author Toolbox Blog Hop

“Are you a plotter or a pantster?”

Utter this question in a group of writers and watch from a safe distance as the formerly unified whole splits into two parts like the ground on a fault line in an earthquake (and with about as much noise). Notice the shifty glances cast as writers discreetly shuffle to one side or the other of the gap now forming, ever-so-subtly aligning themselves with those who are likeminded. Look on and wonder, “What have I done?”

What you have done, my friend, is broached one of today’s literary hot topics.

While the divide is not nearly so dramatic as an earthquake, many authors are firmly established as one or the other, and knowing which side you stand on could be foundational in your career as a writer.

A plotter is someone who outlines an entire work before sitting down to actually write it. Writing this way gives authors a detailed map, allowing them to plan minute details before even writing a word.

A pantster, on the other hand, is someone who writes without the outline, literally “flying by the seat of the pants”. Pantsters prefer this method because it allows the story to grow more organically, and allows the writer to be surprised during the writing process.

Well known plotters include Katherine Anne Porter, John Grisham, R.L. Stein, and J.K. Rowling. Nora Roberts, Margaret Atwood, Pierce Brown, and Stephen King are among the pantsters. Many authors fall into one of the two camps, and you can find a lot of resources online to help you identify which style suits you the most.

Me, however… I’m more of an excavator. As I’m playing with my initial idea, I find scenes scattered throughout the plot like bones peeking through surface dirt. I craft those scenes carefully, executing the tools to hand as precisely as an architect excavates fragile skeletal fragments from the earth. Once out in the open, I hang them on a plot diagram in rough-guestimation about where they belong. As I write, more of the current work’s structure is exposed, and a better picture of the overall whole begins to form, allowing me to plan the positioning and execution of the elements of the work accordingly.

Much like exhuming a fossilized skeleton from the ground, my method is slow, painstaking work. It requires many drafts, but what work-in-progress (WiP) doesn’t? And, oh, the surprises I find along the way!

If, like me, you find you are neither a plotter nor a pantster, never fear. Writing is subjective, even down to its very creation, and no to authors work exactly the same way. My suggest is to experiment with both plotting and pantsing, borrow what works from each method, and meld them into a combination of your own. Then, when your WiP is completely excavated and ready to be viewed by the masses, look on and wonder at the amazing thing you have done.


To continue hopping through other great blogs in the monthly #AuthorToolboxBlobHop, or to join in, click here.



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The Emotional Connection | Author Toolbox Blog Hop

Posted by on Apr 18, 2017 in #AuthorToolboxBlogHop, Creativity and the Writing Process, Uncategorized | 17 comments

The Emotional Connection | Author Toolbox Blog Hop

I am knee deep in the revisions of my current WiP—a sequel to my debut fantasy novel The Healer’s Rune—and I’ve come upon a problem. Although my plot is technically correct, the story itself lacks the spark of life. This is not an uncommon problem among authors, so I turned to two Internet-based writer’s groups that I belong to for help. In the course of the discussion, I was introduced to The Emotional Craft of Fiction by literary agent Donald Maass.

In the opening pages of this writing resource, Maass states: “The most useful question is not how can I get across what characters are going through? The better question is how can I get readers to go on emotional journeys of their own?” (2).

Maass goes on to argue that, although a manuscript can be well written and technically correct in every aspect of plot, those characteristics don’t guarantee that readers will be caught up and carried away by the story. He proposes that what is lacking in this instance is an emotional connection.

Ah ha! I thought. This sounds like exactly the problem my manuscript is suffering from.

My guess is, I’m not the only one. If Maass is right when he states, “Emotional impact is not an extra. It’s as fundamental to a novel’s purpose and structure as its plot. The emotional craft of fiction underlies the creation of character arcs, plot turns, beginnings, midpoints, endings, and strong scenes. It is the basis of voice” (4), then the emotional impact of our stories is something all authors should look at more closely. But where to begin?

In The Emotional Craft of Fiction Maass proposes three primary paths to producing emotion in readers. He calls them “inner mode,” “outer mode,” and “other mode.”

  • Inner mode involves the telling of emotions – authors repot what characters are feeling so effectively that readers feel something, too.
  • Outer mode involves the showing of emotions – authors provoke in readers what characters may be feeling by implying their inner state through external action.
  • Other mode involves causing readers to feel something that a story’s characters do not feel themselves.

Maass does not spend a lot of time on inner mode and outer mode. While he discusses them in sufficient detail in chapter two, and includes advice on how to wield them most effectively, he postulates that writers are already most familiar with these two modes. With this in mind, he devotes the rest of the book expounding upon what he calls other mode, which he says is not a single technique or principle, but a “vast array of elements tuned like the instruments in an orchestra to create a soaring emotional effect” (30). He spends the remainder of the book detailing these elements and includes writing exercises to help authors develop or enrich the emotional levels of their current works in progress.

As I write this blog, I am half-way through Maass’ book. Working through each of the writing exercises has helped me discover and develop the missing spark that my work lacked, and I am once again excited about my current WiP.

How about you? How important do you think developing an emotional connection is to the full development of a novel? How easy or difficult is it for you to include/develop the emotional layer of your work?

To continue hopping through other great blogs in the monthly #AuthorToolboxBlogHop, or to join, click here.

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The Healer’s Rune from Aodhan’s Perspective

Posted by on Mar 14, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

The Healer’s Rune from Aodhan’s Perspective

As I’m in the process of writing the sequel to The Healer’s Rune, I’ve had to make many stylistic decisions. One of them was to decide whether or not to introduce a new perspective in the second book, namely Aodhan’s. I chose not to for many reasons, but I did do some playing around with the idea first. Here, for your perusal, is Aodhan’s perspective on Sabine at the opening of The Guardian Prince (the working title for the second book):


At first, I couldn’t stand her. She’s Human, after all. That, alone, is enough to make her unworthy of notice. If it hadn’t been for that night at the portal, I never would have disturbed her insignificant, self-absorbed life.

But… the portal. She could have let me die. I would have. Torian knows, I’d have slit her throat instantly and put her out of her misery.

*sigh* Okay, maybe I wouldn’t have. I’ve been watching her, as I’ve gone back and forth, keeping tabs on her to make sure she was unaware of our presence. I have to admit – she has spunk. The way she stood up to that Rüddan officer… I wish I could have seen it, rather than just hear the Dryht reporting what his bird saw.

Not only that, but she saved me. She could have killed me at any moment, but she let me live and nursed me back to health. She even delivered my warning to my sister without revealing our presence to the Rüddan, which she could have done at any time without hinting at the fact that she was hiding me in her own home.

So I rescued her from the Rüddan for two reasons: because I owe her a life-debt, yes, but also because I need a Human to use the godstone. Since she didn’t kill or betray me when she had the chance, she’s my best option.

What about the Wereden? Actually, she was right about that. Just because her father was Wereden, and the bond does pass to her, that doesn’t automatically mean she’s obligated. She has to accept it, first. I only used that to push her – to motivate her to do something instead of just sitting by, complacent.

Now that she’s with us, I find her – intriguing. She has a presence about her that commends her to my people. It was all I could do not to laugh when she put Amala in her place that first morning at breakfast. She certainly has spunk. And she doesn’t whine and moan as much as I would expect of a Human. it’s obvious to see she’s not used to riding a horse all day, yet she keeps getting back in the saddle without complaint. I’m willing to be there’s fire in her. Even if she never tells me what happened to her while she was in the Tower of Khapor, the fact that she came out of it alive speaks of her strength of spirit.

So, she’s with us to use the labyrinth map, and maybe she’ll find a place among us. We’ll see how well she fits and what we can do to maximize her usefulness.

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A New(ish) Home for The Healer’s Rune

Posted by on Feb 11, 2017 in My Books, Uncategorized | 0 comments

A New(ish) Home for The Healer’s Rune

The Healer’s Rune has a new-ish home.

Healer’s publisher, Brimstone Fiction, is moving from an imprint to an independent publisher! This exciting, awesome, and amazing news means that The Healer’s Rune needs a new ISBN number and a new print run. As of today, the book is currently unavailable on the market, but never fear! Sabine and Aodhan will be back next week, and should once again be available on Kindle and in print by the weekend of Feb. 18. See you then!


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Happy Birthday to The Healer’s Rune!

Posted by on Jan 19, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Happy Birthday to The Healer’s Rune!

One year ago today, The Healer’s Rune was officially released for publication.

And what a year it’s been! I’ve learned about marketing, done some reading, done lots of writing, and had some great experiences along the way.

The better part of this year has been devoted to learning: how to build a platform; how to market a book; how to set up and then host a book signing; how to get the most out of attending a writer’s conference; how to put my book out there despite my natural inclination to avoid drawing attention…  I had no idea how much time needs to be devoted to the “published” part of being a published author! For those of you who are still seeking publication, get started on your marketing platform NOW! Seriously, it’s never too soon. Check out “When Should Authors Start Working on Their Platforms?” on my Writing How-to: Marketing board on Pinterest.

According to my GoodReads list, I managed to read 23 books this year, including The Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, The Novice and The Inquisition by Taran Matharu, and The Firethorn Crown and The Midsummer Captives by Lea Doue. I started reading The Shadow of What Was Lost, by James Islington, just after Christmas, but didn’t finish it until after the new year, so that one doesn’t technically count for 2016, but is seriously an amazing book. If you’re in the mood for a good read, any one of these books will fit the bill. You can also find out more about my reading habits and the books I’ve reviewed on my GoodReads page.

Just before I went back to school for the spring semester, I finished the first draft of The Guardian Prince, which is the working title for the sequel to The Healer’s Rune. I took a week off to give me a fresh perspective, and now I’ve begun the first of the revisions. If you’re interested in keeping up with my progress, check out the progress bar in the right-hand margin of my web page.

Speaking of plans for the future, here are a few writing-related things I hope to accomplish this year:

  • Design some bling for the Ceryn Roh saga. (I’m thinking maybe some charms with the runes for the Morning Star, the Wereden, and each of the races… What do you think? What kind of book bling are you interested in? Leave suggestions in the comments below. If your suggestion is chosen, I’ll send it to you once it’s available.)
  • Enter The Healer’s Rune into a few award competitions
  • Finish revisions of The Guardian Prince by the end of June and submit it to my agent
  • Attend the fifth annual Realm Maker’s conference this July in Reno, NV where Ted Dekker will be the keynote speaker
  • Start the first draft of The Blind Queen (the third book in The Ceryn Roh saga) this fall

I don’t really make resolutions… I figure if there’s something I need to change or work on, then I should do it now, not just because the year is changing. However, around the turn of the year I decided to try two new things: bullet journaling and consistent blogging. I’m really not very good with agendas and reminders on paper. Once I write them down, I forget to ever look at them again, so if there’s an appointment, birthday, or whatever that I need to remember, I use the calendar and reminder service on my phone. However, I am seriously drawn to the idea of bullet journaling, so I’m going to try it with a more writer-oriented twist. As for blogging… I would love to engage more with you guys! I plan to blog twice per month: once about life in general, and once about writing. However, I’d love to know what you guys want to see. Please feel free to leave questions or ideas in the comments section below.

I want to thank all of you for taking a chance on a new author and reading The Healer’s Rune. Because of you, it has been an amazing year. I can’t wait for you to see what’s in store for Sabine in The Guardian Prince, and I’m looking forward to interacting with you over the next year.

May your 2017 be amazing!

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Now on Kindle Unlimited

Posted by on Jan 17, 2017 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Now on Kindle Unlimited

Are you a Kindle Unlimited subscriber? Then you can now access The Healer’s Rune at

Check it out today!

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Author Interview

Posted by on Jan 8, 2017 in Guest Posts, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Author Interview

This week I am thrilled to be hosted on 2 Me From Him, a blog written by Norma Gail, a Christian blogger and a Bookvana Award winning author. Stop by to discover how my students respond to having a published author as a teacher and whether I think it’s more important to write in order to teach or to entertain. You can also enter a Rafflecopter giveaway to win a print copy of The Healer’s Rune. Please note the giveaway is only open from January 6 until January 12, 2017.

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