Tearing myself a new one – Round 1

First off, I’d like to thank M-E for giving me the idea of critiquing my younger and more inexperienced writer self.  We all started somewhere, green horns with much to learn and writing that was, for some of us at least, a few hundred miles from stellar.

I thought it would be a hoot to dredge up some of the skeletons in my laptop so I could poke at myself and laugh see what I would have done differently now that I’ve been slinging words for a while.

This passage is from the second novel I ever wrote called Across Morrow Bridge, an adult PNR.  The first I wrote was a middle grade novel of all things, and those who know me will understand why it didn’t work.  I’m totally an adult writer.

So, here we go.  Yikes.

Across Morrow Bridge

Chapter 1

I always thought happiness would come to me if I waited patiently enough for it.  Time dragged me from those innocent childhood years when everything was still unwritten and hopeful, and when I got tired of waiting for something extraordinary to happen to me, I went in search of it.  I wandered through short, meaningless relationships and reached what I thought were extraordinary goals, but happiness still it eluded me. 

I understood the concept of the emotion, but could only imagine what it would feel like.  A few years ago, I finally accepted that it will always elude me.  My blank canvas would never return any swirling colours of beauty brushed into thought-provoking designs, and the script of my future was already written in black ink.

I would spend this life alone. 

This life.  It seemed a strange thing to say, like there was some hope of another life to come.  The mere thought of another of these lives was too hard to take.  When the light of my soul finally blinks out, I’m sure it will be lost forever, my energy returned to the earth to be consumed by other living things.  At least, I hope that’s true.

The faces in this coffee shop off the beaten track of Toronto are windows into two distinct kinds of people: those who have felt real joy to the core of their bones at least once in their lives, the Normals, and those like me, who realize that we’re different somehow, maybe unable to feel such things.  We are the Ghosts.  I’m not unhappy, as such, but I feel like an empty shell waiting to be filled up by something, surviving and blending as much as possible.  It took a very long time for me to master the mannerisms of happy people.  This is my camouflage.  Now that I blend more easily into society, I recognize the people who have yet to master their shield.  The Rookies.  They are exposed to those of us who have perfected the illusion.

“Brin!”  A familiar voice screeched across the stranger’s heads who sipped coffee and crunched pastries.  “You’re here!”

I waved, outwardly enthusiastic, but inwardly only slightly more at ease with the day.  My best girl, the one who had the most tolerance for me was grinning as she waded through the sea of tables to reach me in the back corner of the café and looked as if she was going to start climbing arms and stepping on shoulders if she couldn’t find her way through fast enough.  Her curly red hair was half contained in a clip on the top of her head and wisps of it trickled down her pale cream cheeks.  Her name is Stevie.  Her parents had hoped she would be a boy.  We all had our issues.



Well, all right then.  What did I do wrong here?  Take your time, I’ll wait.  *grabs a cup of joe while shaking my head at myself*

Okay, lay it on me.  Mmm-hmm, *nods*  Yep, you’re right.  It’s BORING.


Because nothing happens.  My MC blathers on for, count them, five paragraphs.  About herself.  Starting with back story, in my opinion, is a big no-no.

The statistics show that you have about three paragraphs to hook your reader, so a story needs to start with a WHAM! not a woe-is-me.

This is also a classic fail on the show and not tell method.  I should have let the reader learn about Brinley during her story through her actions and interactions, not shoved it down their throats in the first paragraph.  There are also tense and grammar issues.  I won’t even get into punctuation.  As I said, yikes.

Let me try again.  This was the last draft of the first paragraphs I wrote before shelving this story back in 2009.

Chapter 1 – take one billion and fifty-two

Brinley stood at the edge of the world, arms spread wide.  The angry wind whipped her hair out behind her like a dark flag.  Victoria Falls plummeted over the cliff to her right, sending a storm of white spray into the air and shaking the ground beneath her hiking boots.

She’d been standing there for a long time, hoping to feel something:  fear, anxiety, excitement.  Anything would be better than the roaring emptiness that had filled her body since the day she was born.  If attempting a jump like this didn’t evoke an emotional response, she decided nothing would.  If she felt nothing, she wouldn’t release her parachute.  This time, it was feel, or die.


Okay, that was a little better.  Within two paragraphs, my MC is about to base-jump to her death if she fails in her goal to evoke an emotional response in her body.  A little more exciting, right?  You didn’t yawn as fast as before?  Not perfect, but definitely better. 

What was different?  Plain and simple, something was about to happen.  Maybe something bad.  It raises questions in the readers mind, like why can’t she feel anything?  What has led her to such desperate measures?  And who is going to stop her from jumping to her death?  Or will someone?

There aren’t really any sure ways to hook a reader, but starting off some sort of conflict will hit more often than miss.

What’s your favorite opening paragraph of all time?  What did you like about it?

What’s in a name? #thingstoponder

I’ve been pondering this question for a few weeks now.  The power of names came to mind when I saw someone’s moniker that was spelled so far outside the norm a thousand authors with a thousand typewriters couldn’t have reproduced it if they’d had a thousand years to try. 

I couldn’t sound it out phonetically.  The letters appeared–to my eyes, anyway–in the wrong order.  I actually had to ask how to say it and scratched my head when the sounds didn’t match even half of the letters in the spelling.

It led me to ask, what were the parents thinking, giving a kid a name like that?  Did they hope that by giving a unique spelling it would give their daughter a unique identity?  Did they not realize they had condemned this poor girl to having to spell her name out EVERY time she did anything?  Having it mispronounced every time?  Being left off of registration lists because the administrator simply couldn’t find her in the computer?

I know I risk offending some people out there, and I really don’t mean to, I’m just very curious about people’s motivations behind things like this.  My personal thinking is that identity comes from the type of person someone is, the experiences they have, the engagement of their parents and their friends.  Would you agree?  Am I out to lunch on this one?

How much power does a name hold for you?  Do you make immediate assumptions about a person based on the name they’re given?  Does it really shape the person they’ll become?  Do you assume a person with a wild spelling of their name must be an incredibly neat individual?

Shifting to fictional characters within books, would you not read a book about a Mary or a Peter because they’re simply spelled, old fashioned names?  How about if Mary could heal the sick with a smile?  What if Peter battled his way through a terrible childhood and went on to lead a nation out of poverty?  Would you still think these two were ordinary?  In the end, do the names make more of an impact, or the character’s personality and choices they make? 

Some of my absolute favorite characters are named Abigail, who, at 106 years old still bakes her own bread and talks to God, and Stuart who’s much more than the red neck he first appears to be, both from Stephen King’s The Stand.  Loved them both and never really considered their names as ordinary, because they weren’t ordinary.

Another of my all time favs is called Odd when his parents misspelled Todd on his birth certificate from Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas.  Thinking about him, his name is only a small piece of his character, the rest coming from his pride in being a fry cook and his ability to see dead people.  *shrugs* Would it have been any different if his name had been Todd?  I’m not sure it would have made a shred of difference for me.

How about you?  Do you have a name with a unique spelling?  Do you love it?  Hate it?  Would you change it if you could?  I’d love to hear your thoughts on all of the above.

I won! Sort of #deathmatchresults

So, back in October, the lovely and talented (and way too fast of a writer for my liking), Ms. Aimee Laine, challenged me to a write-off rematch during National Novel Writing Month in November.

Being the non competitive person I am (yeah right *snort*) I grudgingly accepted.

The rules:  First one to hit 50,000 words and send it off to Judge Julie–who had to verify we didn’t type “and” 50,000 times–wins, gets to do a happy dance and point and snicker at the non-winner

The spoils:  The non-winner has to write a blog post bowing down to the winner & send chocolate


November first came and the heckling began.  Check out Judge Julie’s post here to see samples of our back and forth.  🙂  Hehe  It was a blast!

Here are my daily totals, the diagonal line representing the daily goal to hit 50k by the end of November.  Day 5 was a good one.  Any other writing day I can usually manage about 2,500 words.  For some reason when Aimee and I are racing, I can pump out anywhere from 5-10,000 words per day.  Crazy, right?

Although I cursed myself for accepting the dual while it was going on because Aimee is such a formidable opponent, I got so much done it was worth all of the stress.

Thanks to our friendly (mostly 😉 ) competition and despite being sick for half of the time, I set a new personal record.  Fourteen days after NaNoWriMo began, I crossed the finish line.  Woo hoo!  Though, my victory is a little empty this time.  Ms. Laine went on vacation for a whole week where she didn’t write, and if she hadn’t, she might very well have won.

Oh well.  I guess we’ll just have to have another rematch soon to settle this like the proper ladies we are.  *snort*

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The Glass Man by Jocelyn Adams

The Glass Man

by Jocelyn Adams

Giveaway ends December 17, 2011.

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Meet Charlie Kenmore

I had the pleasure of meeting Charlie Kenmore, paranormal romance author, through Alexx at Momcat Reviews.   Check out our chat below.

We all began our writing careers somewhere.  What inspired you to write your first book?

I needed a birthday present for D. Alexx. She loves paranormal romances. I thought, I’ll just write her a paranormal romance. How hard can it be? I barely finished Book One before her birthday.

Ah, that is so sweet!  I bet she loved it.  So you write for love, but who inspires your style?  If you had to choose, which writer would you consider to be your greatest mentor?

Anton Chekhov, the master of indirect action. He churned out “flash fiction” by the dozens.

I haven’t read anything by him.  I’ll definitely check him out now. I’m interested in your book.  Introduce the main characters to us.

On the “Heroes” side:

Prince Dzhok (goes by Jack) of the Qpiad (commonly misspelled as “cupid“ in Earthside English). He’s an All Realms Class Lover, with over 1980 children, including 22 with Salash, the High Sidhe Ambassador to the Court of Queen Amura of the Qpiad (Jack’s mother). He’s a human-appearing humanoid of average build and height. He’s much stronger and faster than any human, but much weaker than any of the heroines. His principal claim to fame is that he is always a perfect fit for his sexual partner, regardless of the species, size or color (yes color, since brown hamadryads and green hamadryads have different average lengths for their vaginal canals).

Salash, Jack’s oldest friend and lover. She’s got copper skin, flame red hair, and all chrome diopside green eyes. She may be short, but pound for pound, she’s one of the deadliest fighters in the Six Inhabited Realms. Her weapon of choice is a sword. It is always available, but Jack has no idea where she keeps it since she doesn’t wear a scabbard.

Brunhilde, the Valkyrie, a large, muscular warrior from the House of Odin. She was responsible for the custody of the Chosen before she escaped. Odin put out one of her eyes. She’s a long time acquaintance of Salash’s. Prefers to hit something first, and ask questions later. Her weapon of choice is a rune inscribed battle axe.

Vejamate, the Lithuanian Goddess, the Mother of Winds, a grandmotherly type. If something is in the wind, she’ll know about it. She can go anywhere there are winds.

The Gang at Halflings‘: Rowan-the eldest of Jack’s and Salash’s children, the bartender;

Khaarkh-Jack’s son by an Earth Elemental, 7’8” and 450 lbs, the bouncer;

KiKi-ik-Jack’s three-eyed, green skinned daughter by a wood nymph, the lounge singer.

Aithne and Birkita–Identical twin daughters of Jack and Salash. Salash’s youngest children, still live with her.

Alyxx, High Lady of the Qpiad, the Royal Court Healer. One of the foremost healers in the Six Inhabited Realms.

On the “Jury is still out” side:

High Lord Athol of the High Sidhe, Salash’s father, one of the foremost spymasters in the Six Inhabited Realms.

Queen Amura of the Qpiad, Jack’s mother, fond of Court intrigue.

On the “Villains” side:

The TechnoWitch, a human body stealing witch, who has her eye on taking the Anarch’s body.

Deimos and Phobos- identical twin who-knows-whats, raised by the TechnoWitch, proficient, amused by, and deadly with every kind of weapon, and every form of combat.

The Conspirators:  Setekh, Shiva, Themis, Loki, Empusa and Pelactere.

Oceanus, the Atlantian–possibly the oldest living mortal in the Six Inhabited Realms.

Finally, on the “All of the Above” side:

Chosen/Anarch/Earth Angel–born into the House of Odin, intended to be sacrificed to support the Veil under the High Sidhe’s First Accords, so never given a name. She escapes into the Veil, and becomes one with it. Her escape from the Veil imperils the Six Inhabited Realms.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

I’m an attorney. Writing fiction is not the same as writing a legal brief. I have to get out of my “attorney” head. So if you were to ask me, “Are you out of your mind?” I’d reply, “I certainly hope so.”

It must be hard to switch hats like that.  To help with that, do you have any rituals when you sit down to write?  Coffee, certain music playing, that sort of thing.

First, I top off my iced tea. Then I place a snack where it is readily accessible. I put one or more dictionaries and thesauruses within arm’s reach, aaaaaaaand, I’m off.

Simple and easy.  I like that.  What advice would you give to aspiring writers who dream of publication?

Keep writing. Pay attention to the basics (ie spelling and grammar), but don’t obsess over it, particularly in the first draft. Get the story down. You can always go back and revise (provided the Muse failed to give it to you straight the first time).

You will get rejected. Live with it. It doesn’t mean that the work isn’t good. It means that the work isn’t suitable, at the time, for the intended publisher. Earth Angel was rejected several times. Each rejection included some words of encouragement, but noted that the work was not a good fit for their readership. Just find a publisher that is in tune with your target market.

Yes, we all have that stack of rejections, don’t we?  They’re just part of the business, though they still hurt.  🙂  Tell us your latest news and what’s next for you.

There are four more Seven Realms Tales under submission, including  The Flow of Magic, the sequel to Earth Angel.

I have a short story “Custody Battle” in the Dark Carnival anthology from Timid Pirate due out at the end of September.

My darker and naughtier alter ego, Ken Charles has a couple of works under contract with Naughty Nights Press. The Mercies of Cinderella is due out in February. The Naughty Ladies of Cotton Glen is due out in April.


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There are seven parallel worlds known as the Seven Realms which are separated by a Veil. Six are inhabited by all manner of entities, some natural, some not. That may not be the case for much longer. The first portion of the High Sidhe Prophecy of the Sevens has been fulfilled. The Anarch, who is one with the Veil, has escaped. If she chooses, she can part or drop the Veil or she can lift the Veil in its entirety. The Seven Realms will converge. The laws of physics and magic will collide head on. Unless she is stopped, there will be nothing left.

Queen Amura has called for an assembly of the signatories to the High Sidhe’s Second Accords, a multi-realm peace treaty to consider how to deal with the threat of the Anarch. An Earthside TechnoWitch and other dark forces also are seeking to control the Anarch. Prince Dzhok (Jack) , High Sidhe Ambassador Salash (Jack’s oldest friend and lover), and Valkyrie Brunhilde set out to find and befriend the Anarch before all is lost.


Salash paused to give Jack a few minutes to consider her words and to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Jack took a moment, and then he saw the light. Unfortunately, it appeared to be attached to an oncoming train. Jack was no pacifist. Like Salash, he would kill to protect his children (and had). But as a pansexual high blood Prince of the Human Whisperers and Allied Kinds, “make love, not war” was not a mere platitude, but rather was the very core of his being. Jack knew that he would have little influence on the upcoming gathering in Paradox. This was not a symposium. It was a war council. And the outcome was fairly certain. His Mother and her allies would seek to kill the Chosen. And they would fail miserably.