10 Great Gifts for Book Lovers

Sometimes buying books for a book lover on your list can be difficult, especially when you’re not sure what they have already read. So my list is branching beyond books. Happy shopping everyone!book-scarf

  1. A Scarf from their favorite book. This one is from Etsy featuring Anne of Green Gables, but they have Game of Thrones, To Kill a Mockingbird, and more starting from $29.00                                                                                                                                vinyl-quote
  2. Vinyl quotes: You can have them put on wood to hang, or even straight on the wall. Etsy has custom quotes starting at $6.00.                                                                 mercys-garage-shirt
  3. Wearable Words: There are many shirts from popular books. You can search Amazon or Etsy or go directly to the author’s web page. One of my favorites is from Urban fantasy author Patricia Briggs’s Moon Called Series.                                  cute-notebooks-11
  4. A cute notebook to take notes in or write down ideas.                                                                magnetic-scrabble
  5. Scrabble magnet that you can play on your fridge. Found on Amazon for about $11.00.                                                                                                                                     laptop-sleeve-typewriter
  6. Laptop Sleeve for around $25 on Amazon.                                                                                       literary-pendant
  7. A variety of literary pendants on Amazon, my favorite is a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson. There are several with pictures of books, and a variety of quotes.                                                                                                                                                      vinyl-laptop
  8. Decorate for your laptop. Great vinyl quotes and pics that can go on directly on laptops. Starting from $5.                                                                                                           embosser
  9. Personalized custom embosser for books. You can get a custom seal, embosser and foil labels for
    under $100 at customembosserpro.com.                                                                                     water-tumbler
  10. Last on Etsy (which as a slew of great customized gifts) is an ‘I love books’ water tumbler or $12.00.

 

Good luck with the gift giving and I wish everyone the Merriest of Holidays!!

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Thankful for Authors

‘Tis the season of thanks, and I thought I’d expound my list of gratitude by adding some of my favorite authors to it. Some of these books have gotten me through hard times, comforting me like an old friend. Many have inspired me with their well-crafted words. Whatever the case, I am grateful to these wonderful authors for their gifts.

patricia-briggs

 

Patricia Briggs – Her urban-fantasy Mercy Thompson Series and Alpha & Omega Series will keep you flipping the pages. I love her main characters. This is a world, I never want to leave. Moon Called is the first book. Thank you Patricia!

these-is-my-words

 

Nancy E. Turner – One of my favorite love stories is These is my Words: A Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine. It’s a sweet story based of the author’s grandmother as she settled with some of the earlier pioneers in Southern Arizona. It’s one that I’ll always remember.

John Steinbeck – While Steinbeck isn’t on my binge list, I find a comfort in his beautifully crafted words. They inspire me to be a better author and have changed me for the better. Grab any one of his books and savor his prose.

I hope peace and gratitude find you this Thanksgiving Holiday, and of course, a good book too.

~DeAnna

be-thankful

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The Demons in the Writer’s Mind

I recently signed my first writing contract. When people learn of my accomplishment they often congratulate me and ask how happy or excited I am. I always reply positively, which in the first moments of learning about the contract offer I was truly happy and excited to begin my journey as a professional author.  Sadly, I don’t think the feeling lasted twenty-four hours before those dark thoughts crept in: the publisher must have made a mistake, or everyone I know will hate the book. Initially, I felt alone. Other authors published easily with a smile on their face−see their Facebook photo for proof.

But slowly I found this topic coming up more and more with authors, and I think it is worth repeating. Writing maybe a solitary activity, but we’re not alone−and many people fake their Facebook photo (see my super smiling one for proof). A lot of my author friends experience the doubt and demons, even after publishing several books. At the ANWA 2016 Conference, J. Scott Savage spoke about how after seventeen releases, he still experiences the gut wrenching fear before each book release.

So how do we fight these demons that can threaten to take us down?

The first step is to RECOGNIZE THE NEGATIVE THOUGHT. Acknowledge it is a fear, an opinion, but not a fact.

Then QUESTION IT/MOCK IT even. Discredit it to give it less power.

Finally, REPLACE IT with an empowering thought, a mantra maybe. Personally, I don’t go around saying how wonderful I am. I’m not there yet, but I start with what I know to be true: I love to write. I write every day, and I write for a reason. The rest isn’t as important.

I hope this helps along your journey in writing or in life. I’ve love to hear any of your tips or experiences.

DeAnna

What can Novelist Learn from the Movies?

I recently read the book Save the Cat by Blake Snyder , a must have for screenwriters and all story tellers. As I’ve been reading, and going over notes from my last conference, I realize there is much we can learn from TV and movies.

  1. Dialogue: This is the most obvious of course, but TV/Movies are littered with good, and bad, dialogue. It is a great way to hear what works and what doesn’t. Aprilynne Pike recently said that she thinks her writing is better when watching Gilmore Girls. I agree it is a witty show that does a great job with dialogue. And as writers, I think it’s important to read our dialogue out loud to help edit our work.
  1. Plotting: Because of the short length of movies (in comparison to sitting down and reading an 80,000 word novel), movies are a great way to look at the plot of a story and see what works. Most movies follow a formula, and those that don’t struggle. Blake Snyder goes over plotting in his book for screenwriting, and it mirrors a lot of what I’ve read from other writing books as well. Usually you can watch the major plot points happen like clockwork.
  1. Characters: Watching Pulp Fiction and seeing how Quentin Tarantino makes two drug addicted hit-men likeable is amazing. Whether creating an anti-hero or making secondary characters memorable (I think of Second Hand Lions), TV and movies are great examples.

So don’t feel guilty next time your binge watching your favorite series. Think about what makes the show work for your or where it can improve. Ignore the guilt and chalk it up to homework.

Upcoming Release: LOVE IS DEATH by LP Masters

L.P. Masters has crafted an exciting paranormal romance that both young adults and adults will enjoy. Filled with realistic characters and an intriguing plot, Love is Death offers readers a tantalizing experience that will keep them on the edge of their seats. Masters’ view of the afterlife and beyond is unique and fascinating, making you wonder what truly does come next. Masters has done a wonderful job, and I look forward to reading more of her books in the future. — by Miranda Miller of Editing Realm

 

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                            LOVE IS DEATH: BOOK 1 OF THE AFTERDEATH SERIES                                                Love is Death will be released November 16, 2016. Pre-order Information Here 
Rest in Peace? What a joke. Ghosts rarely rest, and when we do, it’s never in peace.
Gina’s plan for her afterlife is simple: survive as long as possible. The afterlife is a ghost-kill-ghost kind of place. When she meets newly-dead Alec, she can’t help her desire to protect him. Before she knows it, she finds herself falling for him, despite the little voice in her head telling her it’s a bad idea.
Alec’s goals don’t mesh well with Gina’s plans. Determined to save his living sister from a murderer, he’s willing to disobey the laws of a well-established cult in the afterlife. If the cult finds out, they’ll kill him. Again. He’s hesitant to accept Gina’s help and threaten her afterlife, but he’s guaranteed to fail without her. Together they embark on a perilous mission, but the most dangerous aspect of all is the threat of falling in love. Because in the afterlife…love is death.

Read an Excerpt

“Hey,” I said softly. “What’s going on?”
He bit his lower lip and shook his head. “Nothing.”
He was lying. Something was bothering him, and that was dangerous.
I heard a rare sound: birdsong, but it was clear, not muffled, which meant it was a ghost. I searched for it. There!
“Look, quick.” I pointed at the ghost of a black-capped chickadee a few feet away.
Alec smiled. The little bird twittered in its usual way and hopped across the grass, head turning in jerks like birds always do. It took wing, and I knew what that meant.
“Watch,” I whispered.
In the middle of a flap the bird disappeared. Its water dropped and splashed on the grass, and for a moment the afterghost continued to fly, swooping and twisting in the air before it disappeared as well.
“What the…?” Alec looked shocked.
“Birds don’t stay in the afterlife. Not for long.”
“Why not?”
“Soul sickness. They get here, realize there is nothing like them around, and they get sick.” I held my breath. “The same can happen to you if you’re upset about something.”
Alec looked me in the eyes. His stare was intense, as if he wanted to tell me something. Then he tore his gaze away. “I’ll be fine, Gina.”
I wanted to swear. He wouldn’t be fine. I could see it. I could feel it. He was going to die again if he couldn’t get himself out of that mood.

LP Masters

Born and raised ileannn the rainy streets of the Seattle Area, L.P. Masters spent her fair share of time staring out rain-streaked windows and writing novels. Masters has always had extremely vivid dreams, which often spark inspiration for her novels.
In 1999, after one such dream, Masters began writing her first novel. She has participated in National Novel Writer’s Month every November since 2010. Writing isn’t the only thing she can do with a pen in her hand, she also enjoys sketching and drawing—with varying degrees of success.
Masters now lives in the slightly-less-dreary city of Spokane Washington with her husband and two wonderful daughters.
Connect with L.P. Masters!  www.lpmasters.com  Facebook: /lpmastersauthor Twitter: @https://twitter.com/CXVI116

Three Truths and A Lie: Creating Characters that are Believable

Do you remember the game three truths and a lie? It is a group game often played to get to know one another. A person tells three truths and one lie, and the other people have to figure out what is the lie.

This game is a great example of creating believable characters. In the game people try to create truths that may appear out of character and a lie that is ordinary.

As authors we can often create truths for our characters that don’t align with the world we have created for them. I currently am struggling with one of my characters that is flat in my story. Here are a few tips that have helped me along the way.

*Character’s Journal: I have to go beyond the standard character questioner we often see, and write in their voice. Even if the story is not from their point of view, I write a scene or more in the character’s point of view.

*Motivation: Know your character’s motivation. Not only the motivation that drives them to accomplish their goals, but possible unconscious motivation that drives their personality, speech, and actions.

*Avoid Stereotypes: Most characters can be easily categorized-which is fine. Go beyond the stereotype though. Make yours unique and realistic by giving them a history, a motivation, and a voice all their own.

Delve into your inner Freud and create characters that are complex and interesting. And just for fun I added below my three truths and one lie. Feel free to join in.

  1. 3-truths-a-lieI am prepared for a zombie apocalypse.
  2. I find being underwater peaceful.
  3. I have eaten a cricket.
  4. My first pet was a five foot snake.

Brainstorming: Finding Ideas That Work

At a recent write-in, a couple of us needed to work on world building. In my case, I was working on names for magic ceremonies, events in the past, that sort of thing. One technique that worked well for us was what I call idea dumping (aka brainstorming).

I’m not talking about the old style of brainstorming: grabbing a pen and staring at a blank page for an hour until the perfect idea comes. I’m talking about dumping all the ideas out of your mind−good, bad and ugly—until you find what fits. We pulled up a thesaurus, and I wrote down everything that was said. My paper was a mess, cramped and full of notes.

I can’t lie and say magic poured out of our mouths, but as we batted around ideas they morphed into something great. So when you’re searching for that perfect name for your next goblin or handsome hunk remember a couple of things:

*Write every idea that comes to mind, even the crappy ones.

*Write at least ten if not twenty. I find my first three ideas are generic, and middle five to ten suck. The other day, it was not until at least twenty or more names had floated around until I found one I loved.

*Keep the list for a little bit, percolation helps sometimes. One writer thought she had a name, but it wasn’t until we moved on and were talking about something else did she realize the perfect one hit.

Idea Dumping can be used for book names, magic systems, upcoming plot twists, and more. Sometimes our creativity is laying on the service and other times we have to dig a little for that golden nugget.

Filling your writing toolbox with books

Many a handyman will say that without their toolbox, the work can’t be done. Writers are the same. We fill our toolbox with a variety of tools. We may pick these up at conferences, writing groups, or even blogs (wink, wink). Some of my favorite places to find those gems are books. Great writing books help me look at my writing in a whole different light.

emotion-thesaurus

 

The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. I use this book most frequently and keep it at my desk when writing. Definitely a must have. They also have several others that are worth purchasing.

 

James Scott Bell has so many great books on writing it was hard for me to pick only one, so I didn’t.dialogue-book

How to Write Dazzling Dialogue: The Fasted Way to Improve Any Manuscript

 

conflict-book

 

Conflict and Suspense

 

 

save-the-cat

 

Save The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need by Black Synder. While about screenwriting, this book covers essential elements on storytelling that every author can use.

 

story-engineering

Story Engineering by Larry Brooks has a great comprehension books on the essential building blocks of a story.

 

 

I’m in the middle of another craft book, so this list may grow. Do you have any that I have missed? Please let me know.

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Riding the High of a Writers Conference

I recently went to the 30th Annual Anwa Writers’ Conference this weekend, and though my body is exhausted, my mind is filled with ideas, fueled by motivation, and warmed with a slew of new friends in the publishing world.

It took me a several years to go to a writers’ conference. I thought for sure I could learn just as much through classes and books. This weekend I realized conferences are more than the new techniques we learn (though I found some invaluable). Conferences include growing friendships in the professional writing world, and being inspired to fulfill your potential.

Where else could I casually talk to a publishing manager about my book and the current trends in the market? Or learn from New York Times Best Selling authors about craft and get to chat over lunch with them?  With some of the bigger conferences you may not get this opportunity, but you need to find what conference fits your needs.

Now that I am back home and alone in front of my computer, I’m trying to decide what is the best way to keep riding this high and fulfilling my dream. Here are some tips I thought I’d share and feel free to add some of your own.

  1. Stay in Touch: When you make connections at the conference, keep them. Friend them on social media and keep that connection if it works for you. These writers, published or not, are serious about their careers. Support each other on your journey.
  2. Utilize the Connection: If you met an agent and plan on querying them next year, make sure to remind them where you met.  And with other authors, reach out to switch reviews or beta reads.
  3. Read those Notes: We all took notes over the weekend, but don’t let your conference notes get buried in that deep drawer we never venture too.
  4. “Success is in the doing”: Don’t let those negative thoughts most writers have, get to you. We can’t wait for happiness when we get our first book deal, or make a certain list, or win a certain award. Live in the journey. Live in the writing.

 

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Digging for Characters

I recently read Cannery Row by John Steinbeck. I’m a fan of Steinbeck, but have to admit I struggled with the beginning of this book. It was full of description: describing places, houses, people and even a couple pages on the Model T truck. By page 34, I wasn’t sure what the plot was. Halfway through the novel, I realized how this Nobel Peace Prize Winning Author continues to draw me in—characters.

There are over two handfuls of unique, interesting characters in this book. While writing, I often want to reach for clique or average, especially in secondary characters. I want to challenge myself to dig deeper for those unique personalities that we love to read about.

Here’s an example of a secondary character, Gay, in Cannery Row that only participates for thirty five pages. While I don’t remember the color of his hair or body type, I won’t forget this story anytime soon.

 

Doc asked, “How are things going up at the Palace?”

Hazel ran his fingers through his dark hair and he peered into the clutter of his mind.          “Pretty good,” he said. “That fellow Gay is moving in with us I guess. His wife hits him        pretty bad. He don’t mind that when he’s awake but she waits ‘til he gets to sleep and          then hits him. He hates that. He has to wake up and beat her up and then when he goes      back to sleep she hits him again. He don’t get any rest so he’s moving in with us.”

“That’s a new one,” said Doc. “She used to swear out a warrant and put him in jail.”

“Yeah!” said Hazel. “But that was before they built the new jail in Salinas. Used to be           thirty days and Gay was pretty hot to get out, but this new jail—radio in the tank and             good bunks and the sheriff’s a nice fellow. Gay gets in there and he don’t want to come         out. He likes it so much his wife won’t get him arrested any more. So she figured out this     hitting him while he’s asleep.  It’s nerve racking, he says. And you know as good as me         —Gay never did take any pleasure beating her up. He only done it to keep his self-                respect. But he gets tired of it. I guess he’ll be with us now.”

 

Steinbeck paints gritty characters that stick with us. Two dimensional characters are easy, like neighbors that we wave to while our garage shuts. There is more out there, let’s tip over their trash and see who they really are. Let’s keep digging.