Month: March 2018

Avoiding Stage Directions

Avoiding Stage Directions

In novels, “stage directions” are sections where the author begins listing a character’s visible actions without giving the thoughts or feelings associated with them. As a result, the reader is bombarded with useless information, unable to discern which actions are meaningful.

Scene and Sequel: Making them work together

Scene and Sequel: Making them work together

“Scene and sequel” doesn’t have to be mysterious writer talk. This simple formula will help you create the lean exciting plotlines readers crave. By mastering this technique, you can cut out all the dead weight and unlock your story’s true potential.

A Twist of Wyrd Author Interview

A Twist of Wyrd Author Interview

Author Interview with P.J. Friel

P.J. Friel, author and victim of The Manuscript Shredder, is releasing her debut Paranormal Romance, A Twist of Wyrd, today. This book is a sexy romp filled with supernatural races we don’t get to see as often. Kudos to P.J. for expanding the PNR world. In this interview, P.J. discusses her favorite characters and her experience being “shredded.”

What drew you to Norse Mythology?

The movie Conan the Barbarian, the original one starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. It came out when I was thirteen and I got my first glimpse of a Valkyrie when Valeria (in the form of a Valkyrie) saved Conan from certain death. I’ve loved armored, sword-wielding women ever since, so it was a no-brainer to start with Norse Mythology when I was looking for a belief system on which to base my series. FYI: readers won’t meet the Valkyries in A Twist of Wyrd, but they’re coming in future books. Brace yourselves!

In case you’re curious, here’s the scene from Conan I referenced. 

Who is your favorite character in the book and why?

Come on, ML! How am I supposed to choose between my babies? I love them all equally…for the most part. But, okay fine. I MIGHT have a special place in my heart for Jack, the bartender at the Dance Stage. He was an unexpected and hilarious surprise to me—walking onto the page and giving Trygg crap from the get-go—and I’m looking forward to seeing where he pops up in future books.

Are any characters based on yourself?

As writers, we inject a bit of ourselves into all of our characters, I think. Our loves, fears, hopes, fantasies, and experiences all play out across the page in ways big and small. But none of the characters in A Twist of Wyrd are one hundred percent me. As much as I’d like to claim some of the cool powers Bryn and Trygg possess, I was born a Midgardian. Hmm. On second thought, maybe Dezi is my avatar…

If Bryn was a real person would she be your best friend or your worst enemy?  Why?

Bryn would absolutely be my bestie. We’d meet at traffic court and bond over speeding tickets and our mutual love of cars, coffee, and hot berserkers. Dezi’s pokey driving would make both of us equally twitchy.

If you could date Trygg, would it be a wild fling or would you consider taking him home to mama?

I would put a ring on that man…or a ball and chain. Whatever it takes. Like that song by Live says…forever may not be long enough with Trygg.

What was the most difficult part of the writing/publishing process?

Letting go. The urge to write and rewrite the book until it was “perfect” was hard to suppress. That kind of thinking is a trap, though. The perfect manuscript is a unicorn. Trying to produce perfection is paralyzing.

If you could tell your younger writing-self something, what would it be?

Stop looking for the “right way” to write a book. Years of trying different methods and systems have shown me that there’s no one right way. Just trust the characters and tell the story.

How many unfinished/abandoned novels do you have stashed away?

side-eyes a mountain of paper in the corner of my office Next question?

In working with M.L. Keller (The Manuscript Shredder), was there any point you really hated her?

I could never hate someone who was trying to help me. Now, that’s not to say that we didn’t have our differences of opinions, but that’s the best part of working with critique partners and editors and beta readers. Everyone comes at stories from a different angle, offers different insights, excels at different things. Writing your novel inside a bubble is the absolute WORST thing you can do. So, fellow writers, send ML your manuscripts ASAP. The lady has fantastic suggestions.

You had an entire team of people behind you during the creation of this book. Anyone specific you would like to give a shout-out to?

chuckles As my editor Rita says, my acknowledgments already read like an Oscar speech, so I’m going to use this space to give a shout-out to fellow scribbler Jaime Bunnell. I just beta read her first novel and I know someday I’m going to be saying, “I knew her when…” Check out her short story in Medium Chill – Issue 1 (Volume 1). 

Check out A Twist of Wyrd

A Twist of Wyrd

They say a person’s wyrd – their destiny – is carved into the branches of Yggdrasil long before they are born.

Three hundred years after Odin’s gates to Earth malfunctioned, Outlanders left behind have integrated into society so thoroughly that few humans are even aware of their existence.

Straddling the divide is Bryn Ullman, a PI with a unique skill that’s in demand by Akron PD and a phobia that even her martial arts training can’t defeat. Her shadowy heritage means that she is always looking over her shoulder, and has no patience, and no place in her life, for Trygg Mackenzie and the confusing things he makes her feel…and want.

Trygg, head of security for the Devourer mob, is a berserker in hiding. If the Allfather finds him, eternal servitude will be the least of his worries. But for Bryn, he’s willing to take the risk if it keeps her safe and gains him redemption for his past.

A murder investigation throws them together, but with mob secrets and unknown factions at work, will giving in to their passion be their undoing or their salvation?

On the path of fate and destiny, it’ll take A Twist of Wyrd to save them both.

This book is available here (Affiliate link)

Find P.J. Friel at:

Amazon Author page

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Using Character Motivations in Plot Chains-authortoolbox

Using Character Motivations in Plot Chains-authortoolbox

People may not always behave in a logical manner, but when you are planning out your stories, your characters should. Creating characters without any internal logic will produce an inconsistent, illogical mess. Fortunately, there is a simple trick for fixing this problem

Creating the Perfect Love Interest

Creating the Perfect Love Interest

The love interest is an integral part of contemporary plot structure. But too often that character is little more than a pretty face designed to be the main character’s dream girl. Today’s love interest needs to be more than just a skirt waiting to be rescued. Make sure your love interest is a person who matters.

Celebrating a win-IWSG

Celebrating a win-IWSG

How I Celebrate a Win

This post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group: a monthly blog hop therapy group for writers.

The awesome co-hosts for the March 7 posting of the IWSG are Mary Aalgaard, Bish Denham, Jennifer Hawes, Diane Burton, and Gwen Gardner!

March 7 question – How do you celebrate when you achieve a writing goal/ finish a story?

The short answer is: I don’t.

Perhaps I’m an overly pessimistic person, but I’ve never been one to count my chickens. The world is too quick to remind you that you aren’t as smart as you think.

As a beginning writer, I made the mistake of querying too early. Twenty queries turned into twenty rejections and my previously “finished” novel would undergo another round of edits in preparation for the next batch of queries, which would produce the same results. This cycle lasted until I had exhausted every agent in the query tracker database.

My next novel fared no better.

After doing this for years, I’ve decided not to celebrate tiny milestones. They don’t motivate me and one tiny checkmark on a hundred point list only serves as a reminder of how much further I still need to go. Even if I were to land an agent with my current WIP, the novel would get another round of edits before submissions, and then another from the publisher. As it stands, I see no reason to celebrate finishing something I know isn’t really finished. So maybe I’ll uncork the Champagne on the day the book is released, but by that time, I will probably have moved the bar to making the best-seller list. In any case, I have plenty of time to make up my mind.

As for smaller works, well, I celebrate those by checking my PayPal account.


Continue the blog hop here

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Have something to add? Leave a comment. I love hearing from readers.

The First 50 Pages: Recommended

The First 50 Pages: Recommended

Jeff Gerke’s The First 50 Pages is a writing how-to intended to point out every way you are ruining your manuscript, and then guide you through ways to fix those problems