Monday, August 31, 2015

Ian S. Bott on Researching the Unknown

Hi all! Today I have the pleasure of hosting one of my very talented Crit Partners, Ian S. Bott, as part of his blog tour.

Having read Tiamat's Nest as a critique partner, I can tell you now that those who buy the book are in for a wild ride. One of the best things about the story is the feeling that, although we're dealing with events and technology that is still beyond our reality, they were written in a what that makes them feel real.

And today, Ian's going to tell us about researching for Speculative Fiction.

Before we start, though, I just want to mention that Shell Flower interviewed me on her blog today.

Okay, Ian, take it from here.

Researching the Unknown

When you write fiction set in the real world, the need for research is obvious. You’re writing about places and things that a lot of your readers already know about, and you need to be credible enough to keep those readers along for the ride.

One of the great joys of speculative fiction is that you get to make things up. Nobody can argue that you can’t possibly see the mountains of Mordor from Minas Tirith, because nobody’s been there!

So, when your whole world is invented, where is the need for research?

Well, no matter how far out your speculative ideas, readers need your world to have some foundations they can relate to. Even the most fantastical of worlds inevitably has considerable overlap with our familiar world.

If you’re writing medieval fantasy, for example, you can bet many of your readers will know their pikes from their halberds, so you’d better know too! That means research.

OK, maybe you’re into far-future sci-fi instead, with biology and technology that has no earthly counterparts. Surely that’s safe? Well, what about the (eminently fashionable indicators of a non-Earth setting) twin moons you’ve placed in the sky which always seem to rise and set together in defiance of orbital periods? You may not be aware of the gaffe, but your target audience may not be forgiving.

One of the challenges of speculative fiction is knowing what you don’t know. When you write a real-world setting you are usually aware of your boundaries. Never been to New York, or worked in a hospital, or erected a circus big top? Well, you know what you have to read up about. But assembling a world from scratch with credible seasons and ecology? Most likely you’re going to write what you’ve decided you need for the story without much thought to what laws of nature you’ve trampled along the way.

The strangest thing about sci-fi is that people happily accept blatant present-day impossibilities, like FTL travel or artificial gravity fields, without so much as a blink of an eye, but they get picky about smaller things. It's relatively easy to get away with big bold lies, but the closer you get to some version of recognizable reality the more demanding people get.

Like trying to plan the perfect murder, it's the little details that'll trip you up.

For my latest novel, Tiamat’s Nest, I’ve researched things like the topography of Greenland under all that ice, the temperature of magma and melting point of aluminum, driving snowmobiles across open water, and how far you have to run to survive a small nuclear explosion.

What cool things have you researched for your work?

Tiamat’s Nest

The virtual world comes alive and reaches out into the real world with deadly results. University professor and devout technophobe, Charles Hawthorne, confronts technology full on to end the hidden threat to humanity.

Available on Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo.

Find out more about the author on his website:

Friday, August 28, 2015

Update Day: End of Winter Edition

Phew! I can’t believe that August is all but over. This is the last Friday of the month, which of course means that it’s time for me to update on my progress.

For those of you who are unaware, Beth Fred and I host a monthly bloghop where we set lofty (or crazy) or just important goals. Then on every last Friday of the month, we all post updates for a mixture of accountability and encouragement.

You’re welcome to join at any time. Just click here for more information.

And now, this is how I did.

My goals for August:


1) Write 15k words.
I wrote almost 21k so far and will be adding a few words more by Monday.

2) Finish the rewrite to O1.
Very almost done with this. Just suffering from a bit of separation anxiety, or I would probably have finished it already. I should get to it this weekend, though.

3) Edit BvB1
Did some light checking before sending to an editor. Will start this on Monday. (Didn’t want to mix edits with O1’s rewrite to avoid introducing errors to BvB1.)

4) Edit ES1
Didn’t do this.

5) Edit Untethered Realms Short Story
Done and Submitted. And Oh look! The Cover…

6) Tie up any remaining loose ends to The Vanished Knight and The Heir’s Choice.
This I couldn’t do because someone screwed up with the mailing of my paperback proofs. Amazon are now shipping them for free and the ETA is Tuesday.

7) Prep for rewrite to VD
Didn’t get to it yet.

8) Work on concept to P.
This I did, but the concept simply isn’t getting together in a way that pleases me. So I decided to put it waaaaaaaaaaaaay back on the back-burner. Behind all the other projects I still need to get to.

Writing-wise, my month looked like this:


1) Read six books.
I read three and am reading my fourth, but it won’t be done before the end of the month.

2) One of which must be Shakespeare.
This I did. I read The Tempest.

3) And another must be in French.
I’m reading Les Trois Mousquetaires (The Three Musketeers, but in French). It’s the original version (IE not simplified and not abridged. Which means it’s huge.)

4) Read for an average of fifteen minutes per day. (Which mean I can read for an hour on one day and then skip three, if needs be.)
My average is currently 28 minutes. (Yes, I keep track.)

Social media:

1) Continue with my regular blogging schedule.

2) Regular Tumblr and Wattpad posts.
Done(ish) for Tumblr, Done for Wattpad.

3) Start catching up on Wattpad Critiques
I am slowly catching up, but it’s tough going with all the other stuff I need to do. Including things that cropped up after last month’s post.

4) More regular presence on Twitter and Google Plus.
I feel that I have made a move toward this, but there’s still a lot of work to do.


1) Continue to grow business.
Boy this one got a sudden leap forward recently. Not going into details, but I will say that it makes the whole growth thing a lot easier.

2) Get some crafty stuff done.
I crocheted.

3) Start a painting/drawing.
I started a huge painting and would have done more, but the weather has thrown my plans a bit. (Can’t really mix the right colors when it’s cloudy, and it’s too expensive to flub something.)

Special Mentions:

I critiqued about a quarter of someone’s book.
I wrote and submitted a film concept with my mother and grandmother.
The Vanished Knight and The Heir’s Choice (but mostly The Vanished Knight) sold the same number of books in five days of being published as The Vanished Knight sold in the five months it was with my former publisher.

My goals for September:

When I decided to move P down my priority list, I decided to shift quite a few of my projects to next year etc. because I’ve seen this year how much I can do and I’m not going to put any unnecessary pressure on myself. That said, a lot of the goals from last month are moving to this one, because I should have a bit more time.


1) Edit BvB1.
2) Rewrite Wo6C3
3) Rough Draft BvB2.
4) Rough edits to ES1 and get critique partners for it.
5) Prep VD rewrite.
6) Rough Draft StW
7) CdW concept.
8) Critique works sent to me by critique partners.

Writing-wise, my month should look something like this:


1) TRY reading six books.
2) Give up on the idea that I’ll catch up on my yearly reading goal.
3) See how far I can get with Les Trois Mousquetaires.
4) Read for an average of 15 minutes per day.

Social Media:

1) Maintain about the same level of activity as August.


1) Don’t freak out while waiting to hear back from the film company I submitted the concept to.
2) Crochet.
3) Get the first layer of paint on my canvas.

That’s it for me for today. How did you do? Thinking about joining in?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

A to Z of Things Writers Should Know About Writing: Underwhelmed

I'm still on my mission to complete my A to Z Challenge theme, and I'm actually feeling like I'm finally in my home stretch.

And today, I'm writing about a biggie.

Writers all have to come to terms with this simple fact or we simply couldn't function as writers.

First drafts almost never live up to the pictures we have in our minds.
(Unless we're temporarily delusional.)

I wish I can say that it becomes better, but really, all that happens is we learn to expect that compared to our idea, the draft will suck. So we're not as crushed when we find this when we re-read what we've written. 

Why is this, though? Why don't we just write the idea the way we have in our mind? 

Well... For one thing, writing is hard. Don't ever let someone tell you it isn't. Furthermore, our minds have a way of making ideas look incredibly shiny, because along with just the basic idea, we also see how we expect it to look and feel in the end. But the truth is that this sense of perfection is an illusion. 

It's a nice illusion. It helps us be excited enough about our ideas to commit to the writing. 

But as soon as words start appearing on paper, you'll find you don't have exactly the right words to get the feels across that you have. You'll discover plot-holes you never considered (even if you did plot). You'll discover that the characters simply refuse to act in the way that you need them to in order to bring your vision about. 

Or you'll get to the end and reread the whole thing, find that you got almost everything that you envisaged down and... it... just... sucks. 

There's not really all that much that you can do about it. The translation from idea to draft is never perfect, and there's not much you can do to change this. 

You can, however, change the way you see and react to the imperfection. 

I think all writers come to terms with imperfection in various ways, but this is what I do: 

1) When reading what I've written, I make note of flaws and weaknesses, but focus on the positives. No, no one's rough draft sucks in its entirety. There's always something worth keeping. Your job is to find that thing. And make note of all the things you need to change in order to improve your story. 

2) Remember that it's always better to have one sucky draft than a million good ideas. This might seem counter-intuitive, but an idea is worth very little until you have it written on paper. Especially because of our mind's way of making things look shinier in our thoughts than in reality. Once the story is written, we can fix it no matter how bad it looks. (Even if it takes a rewrite.) But if you don't ever write it, there's nothing you can do to it.
So yes, be underwhelmed, but remember that a sucky first draft is just part of the process. And be glad that you're underwhelmed, because it will help you in edits later.

How do you deal with first draft suckage? Are you struggling with first draft suckage at the moment?

Monday, August 24, 2015

Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

I have today the great pleasure of announcing the coming of:

Realms Faire 2015

It is a Faire not only restricted to medieval themes, but to all times and themes. The organizers are still looking for participants in two events.

Do you want to battle an immortal? 

Or would you rather duel with other bards? 

Both still have spots open.

Then, we the organizers are looking for a wide variety of prizes and will be most grateful for your most gracious offerings.

Perhaps you only want to watch the fun. (Or you missed entering one of the challenges.) 

That's wonderful too. There is nothing as fun as having an audience, and all are welcome to spectate the spectacle. We also have a variety of open games:

Hall of Doors
Riddle Me This
A Unicorn Hunt
The Hero's Dilemma
Who Roams Here
Stockade Brigade

All have prizes to be won and will be great fun. 

Remember This Date

For more information, to enter or to submit prizes, click here.

Who's in?

One last thing. Michael D'Agostino interviewed James from The War of Six Crowns today. I'd love it if you all came to say hi. 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Interview with Taryn Tyler

Hi all! Today, I have Taryn Tyler over for an interview. (Questions are in Bold.)

Welcome to The Five Year Project! First thing first, please do tell us a bit more about yourself. 

I daydream a lot, drink too much tea, and usually wear a hat. 

I'm also a lover of tea, although that said, it's actually rooibos tea and therefore not tea at all... What got you to start writing?

When I was thirteen my friends and I started a monthly newsletter called "The Friendship Times". At first it had mostly 'articles' about our Jr. High lives and maybe part of one or two stories but by the time we reached High School it was a weekly publication of six or seven novels being written in serial format. We changed the name to "Knights of the Page" and invited more people to submit. We even made the font smaller so we could fit more in each edition. It was crazy fun and I haven't stopped writing since. 

That sounds like a lot of fun. What's your favorite part to writing and why?

The things that I discover about myself and the world that I never knew I knew until I'm reading what I wrote.

I love that about writing too. Tell us a bit more about your newest story. What's it about?

WHITE HART is about Sir Gawain's first (well technically second) journey to Camelot and how he becomes a knight. He is pretty uncertain about he is going to be accepted at Camelot because his family just lost a war with King Arthur. Not really the best way to start off your career! 

No indeed not. What inspired you to write White Hart?

Gawain has always been my favorite knight, I like him because even though he's not pure of heart like Galahad or super suave like Lancelot he's not afraid to jump in and make a mistake. And boy does he make a lot of them! It's also always resonated with me that he comes from a big family that he cares about a lot even when they make really bad choices about who to side with. It makes for a lot of interesting gray area and I wanted to make sure his story was told from the beginning. 

He's my favorite too! It's always sad to me that almost no one knows who he is. What's the biggest lesson you've learned from writing White Hart?

That nobody is perfect and sometimes when you spend too much time chasing an ideal you miss the point. 

That's such a beautiful lesson to learn. What's your best advice for new writers?

Read. Write. Don't give up.

Very true. Not giving up is the essence of success. Where can people find you online?

My blog
My Facebook Author Page
And Goodreads

Awesome. Thanks for visiting and all the best with your new book! 

Gawain of Orkney has not been to Camelot since before his father led a rebellion against King Arthur. Now that the war is over Gawain is sent to attend Arthur's wedding as a token of peace. 

The night of the wedding Arthur bids Gawain to hunt a white hart -- a beautiful deer of unearthly purity. Gawain accepts the quest but the dangers of the wilderness become hard to battle when he is bound by Arthur's new ideals of peace and trust. Gawain realizes he may not be so different from the knights of the old, violent ways of as he had imagined. 

Gawain does not have long to decide which life he wants to chase. Not all of the rebels put down their swords when his father did. The knights of the old ways are planning an assassination and even King Arthur may not survive this new idealistic trust.

Available Now on Amazon

Did you know who Sir Gawain is? Have you visited Taryn's blog before? What do you think of the cover?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A to Z of Things Writers Should Know About Writing: Time

Yeah yeah. I know. It's August and I still haven't finished April's A to Z Challenge. I'm getting there, though.

For those of you who missed it, my theme was: Things Writers Should Know About Writing, and I planned to post once a week on the theme until it was done. But then I published two books and held a month long blog tour...

Which actually brings me to the whole point of today's post.

Since I define writers as people who are writing, (as supposed to people who say "I have this great idea, but I just don't have time...") this relates to actual writers having time.

More specifically, I want to point out that writers very rarely have any time to spare. We never have enough time to write enough. And when we do, we don't have time for anything else.

It's a curse, I tell you.

It is, however, quite normal, and you needn't feel guilty about it.

Nor should you feel guilty when you steal time.

Or when you make time, be it to write or not.

You're writing. Even if it's only a small bit at a time.

You're writing, and that's the important thing.

What's your relationship with time like?

Monday, August 17, 2015

5 Tips to Writing Dialogue by Tanya Miranda

Hi all! Today I get to welcome the amazing Tanya Miranda to my blog, where she talks about writing dialogue well. Take it away, Tanya. 

5 Tips to Writing Dialogue

#1 – Read your Dialogue out loud.

You have to feel the words coming out of your mouth in order to know if they sound real, if they sound like something an actual person would say. Say it as the scene requires it. If it's an argument, raise your volume and sharpen your tone. If it's gossip, whisper. If you are exasperated, change your inflection to match the range of emotion. You might change the dialogue as you speak, to feel more natural to the character and situation. Follow your instinct on this. Throw the grammar book out the window since most humans don't follow strict technical rules when speaking in real life.

Unless, of course, you are writing dialogue for an English professor character - then you're grammar has to be top notch!

#2 – Act out the scene.

In addition to speaking the words, act out the scene.  For example, in a fight scene, pretend the aggressor is about to throw a punch and duck to avoid getting hit. Stagger backwards as if you've lost your balance. Will you say, “James, I was only kidding.” or will you say, “For the love of Christ, James, I was only kidding!” Placing yourself at the scene (by pretending) will make the dialogue explode.

Sometimes, you will find that your dialogue doesn't work as you physically speak and act out the scene. Those clever line might not fit the adrenaline pumping through your veins as you imagine being punched in the face. It happens. It's alright to delete a scene altogether if it doesn't work, or rewrite it completely so that it feels realistic. That is why we're doing these exercises.  

#3 – Use body language beats.

Don't forget that people speak volumes with their body language. Reciting dialogue and acting out a scene will help define the body language accompanying the words. Hands hooked into hips, long eye rolls, shrugging shoulders, rubbing your eyes… use these body language beats in place of dialogue tags to add to the emotion.

For example, instead of this:

            I backed away and said, “For the love of Christ, James, I was only kidding!”

You write this:

            I backed away, balling my fists. “For the love of Christ, James, I was only kidding!”  

Is he preparing to fight back? Is he on the defense? You've added a layer of detail to the scene by including the character's body language in place of the dialogue tag, and the reader still knows who is speaking. 

#4 – Keep Dialogue tags simple.

Some writers are obsessed with too much usage of dialogue tags. The word “said” is one of those “invisible” words readers don't notice, until you add an adverb or a description. Too much “she said excitedly” or “he said with anger” distracts the reader from the actual words the characters are saying. When you find these, remove the adverb or description altogether and return the dialogue tag to its simplest form. In addition, either rewrite the dialogue or add body language beats that will help the reader feel the emotion.

For example, instead of this:

            “He proposed to her?” Karen said in a shocked tone.

You write this:

            “He proposed to her?” Karen's jaw dropped open.


            “There is no way he proposed to her!” Karen said.

You barely even noticed the word “said” there, right? That's because the dialogue is rich with emotion. You want your readers to feel Karen's shock in the beats and dialogue. You don't want to tell your readers she was shocked.

#5 – Avoid “ers”, “uhs”, and “ums”

Some people, uh, naturally speak with, er, these pauses, but, um, reading them is annoying. You may think it sounds realistic, and maybe it does, but … doesn't it sound annoying in real life? Just like it turns people off when they listen to this type of speech, it's likely to turn people off when they read it. 

There are a few exceptions, like when it gives away an emotional shift that is different than the normal tone of the character, or it is triggered by an event and may last for a scene or two. If you need to use it, use it sparingly, unless you want to create an annoying character.

Also, some writers use these to indicate a level of shyness or embarrassment in the character. I find that using body language beats to portray these traits is a better avenue to take.

For example, instead of this:

            Eric said, “She, um, dumped me for Kile.”

You write this:

            Eric shrugged his shoulders and glanced to the side. “She dumped me for Kile.”

It's cleaner and gives more information about how Eric feels while speaking. Also, if Eric has to tell another person his girlfriend dumped him for Kile, you can use a different beat to show off his shame instead of saying the same thing again with an “er” or an “um”. 

~ * ~

Tanya writes fantasy, sci-fi and a little romance. She loves running 5Ks though Braddock Park in North Bergen and playing softball and soccer with her kids. If you give her some Godiva, she'll be your best friend.

To connect with her, visit her blog at

Check out her latest release, The Box Of Souls, below!

~ * ~

Even the darkest magic can’t break the bonds of family.
18-year-old Jasmyn secretly resents her family’s preference for her 8-year-old sister Katarina. Her jealousy grows when her grandmother, a dying witch, overlooks Jasmyn and chooses Katarina to inherit her magic powers. Although being second-place to her sister is something Jasmyn has grown accustomed to, this rejection wounds her like no other.

When sinister dragons appear along the California coastline, Katarina tries to stop them, but her spells fail. Her family discovers it is because she didn’t inherit all of their grandmother’s magic and that her grandmother split her magic between the two sisters.

Now, Jasmyn and Katarina must work through their sibling rivalry to stop the menace. Can Jasmyn put her pain and resentment aside to wield her grandmother’s magic? The bond of sisterhood is strong, but so are powers of darkness.

Thanks for visiting Tanya! So, ladies and gents, what do you think of Tanya's dialogue tips? What's your favorite way to make dialogue work?

Friday, August 14, 2015

Last stop!

Hey everyone!

Today marks the end of my official blog tour, although I have been invited to a few more blogs over the next few months. Just want to say a huge thank you to everyone who's hosted me, and everyone who've supported my tour over this past month.

Also, I want to thank all of you wonderful people who've decided to give my books a try, be they reviewers or people who bought my books.

I can't even measure the amount of gratitude that I feel toward all of you.

Since everyone is so interested in my self publishing journey and I've been praising the process so much, I thought I'd finish off with a bit of balance. So for today, on Annalisa's blog, I wrote about the less than wonderful things about self publishing.

Hope to see you there!


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Want a Sneak Peak from The Vanished Knight?

Hi all!

Today, Cherie Reich is sharing a teaser from The Vanished Knight, so click on over for a sneak peak into my book.


Monday, August 10, 2015

Terry W Ervin II is interviewing me today.

Hi all!

We're in the home stretch for my blog tour as this is the final week. Although, if anyone wants to interview me or wants me to do a guest post, just let me know. I'm always game. :-)

In the meantime, Terry interviewed me, and we covered a wide range of subjects. From what I like to read, to why I use a pseudonym and how my paintings look. (I sent him a picture too, if you're curious.)

See you there, I hope!


Friday, August 7, 2015

J Lenni Dorner is interviewing me today.

Hi all!

The blog tour resumes today with me being interviewed by J Lenni Dorner. J also gave my books a great review, for those of your still wondering if you'd like the book or not.


Thursday, August 6, 2015

Announcements and Reveals

Today I'm taking a quick break from my blog tour to spread some great news.

First things first, I want to give a shout-out to Angeline Trevena, whose new book is coming out. My other announcement is at the bottom of the post, and it's totally worth it if you want to market your books.

Not All Medicine is Good for You; Better Check the Label

Never one to let a good character die, British horror and fantasy author Angeline Trevena has accumulated several characters from previously unfinished books, to populate the dystopian world of The Bottle Stopper.

Currently available for pre-order on Kindle, this tense adult horror tracks the story of Maeve, as she devises a murderous plan to free herself from her violent, abusive uncle.

Born and bred in a rural corner of Devon, Angeline now lives among the breweries and canals of central England, with her husband, their son, and a somewhat neurotic cat. She's been writing since she was old enough to hold a pen, and released her d├ębut novella, Cutting the Bloodline, in May.

The Bottle Stopper, the first book of The Paper Duchess series, is set 100 years after the world we know today, in a society where the birth rate of girls is at a catastrophic low. Desperate for protection, women turned to the state, but that protection came at a price. Namely; their freedom

Maeve lives outside of the overbearing administration, in the slums of Falside. Having been torn from the arms of her mother at six years old, Maeve, now seventeen, works in her uncle's apothecary shop, bottling his medicines. But these are not medicines that are going to make anyone better. In fact, once Maeve puts her plan into action, they may well be deadly.

Tony Benson, author of dystopian thriller, An Accident of Birth, said “Angeline Trevena, with her ever fertile imagination, creates dystopian visions of the future that are both innovative and chilling. ”

The cover was built, photographed, and designed by Ben Farrow, and you can view a 'making of' slideshow here.

The Bottle Stopper – The Blurb

"Too much trouble, and you'll end up just like your crazy mother."

Maeve was six when they took her mother away, and left her in the care of her Uncle Lou: a drunk, a misogynist, a fraud.

For eleven years she's lived with him in Falside's slums, deep in the silt of the Falwere River. She bottles his miracle medicine, stocks his apothecary shop, and endures his savage temper.

But as his violence escalates, and his lies come undone, she devises a plan to escape him. 

The Bottle Stopper is now available to pre-order on Kindle.

Realms Faire is Coming

That's right. M Pax's brainchild is back and I'm one of the hosts. Right now, we're looking for contestants in some of our competitions as well as prizes. 

The Faire takes place over a number of blogs, and attracts a lot of attention, so if you want to be part of it (either as contestant or by donating a prize), click here for more information. If you want to know more about the events, just scroll past the entry form.

Anyone excited to read Angeline's new book? Who's signing up for Realms Faire?

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Handwriting Drafts

Hi all,

That's write. Today I'm visiting M.J. Fifield and answering questions about rough drafting by hand.

Hope to see you there!


Monday, August 3, 2015

I'm visiting Bish Denham's blog today.

Hi everyone!

Today, I'm visiting Bish, sharing an interview I had with King Conal from my War of Six Crowns series.

Would love to see you there!